Sports commentary in regional languages might be a recent phenomenon in India but the number of viewers is steadily increasing for such programmes and channels.
A good example is Star Sports Kannada, the first-ever dedicated Kannada sports channel launched in December last year. It is now one of the most sought after sports channels among Kannadigas, a testimony to the fact that “sports is more engaging, enjoyable and thrilling when it is watched in a language one speaks,” as a Star India spokesperson said.
Metrolife got in touch with three Kannada IPL commentators to know about their experiences and challenges.
Can you share your experiences of commentating in Kannada?
More than commentating, we are talking to each other and making a conversation with our Kannada viewers, just like how we do among friends. The experience so far has been great; Kannadigas have reached out to us on various platforms to appreciate our work. We are happy to be doing this.
Is it necessary for all English cricket terms to be translated into Kannada?
Frankly speaking, it is not easy to translate all cricket terminologies in Kannada. Sometimes, even the meaning might change. For instance, batsman is Kannada is ‘Dandiga’ but the word also means ‘hulk’. So if we say ‘Dandiga’ on air, people might think I am accusing that batsman (laughs). So, I think it is good to stick to some known English words.
Any fun moments while commentating?
The commentary box is always filled with laughter; we poke fun and pull each other’s legs a lot.
What are the challenges of doing cricket commentary in Kannada?
Cricket, being an English sport, has a lot of cricket terminologies which cannot be translated into another language; either the meaning will be lost or it will be really awkward. We have been instructed not to speak completely in Kannada; it gets difficult for us to find the right words as well as for the listeners to understand.
How is the response so far?
The response has been great. It was a surprise to find that a lot of people in Bengaluru were also tuning in into Kannada commentary; our target was mainly rural Karnataka.
Any amusing moments on air?
We usually talk a lot, off air, inside the commentary box. However, once I said something a little informal on air and then I had to somehow wiggle my way out of it.
Do you think the commentators and the audience has become comfortable with Kannada commentary?
Kannada commentary started off with the 2005 world cup. So, I think people are used to it by now. Our job now is to polish it a bit more and take it to the next level. Since all of us are cricketers-turned-commentators, it makes the job easy.
Are you training young presenters as well?
Yes, We are looking for young commentators. If we find fresh talents with good cricket knowledge, fluency and a confident voice, then why not?