Prasar Bharati

“India’s Public Service Broadcaster”



Friday, May 8, 2020

A trip down memory lane with the voice of Indian radio cricket commentary - Part III

Dr. Narottam Puri picks an India-Australia contest from the 1980-81 series Down Under as his memorable moment - SUSHIL KUMAR VERMA
Q) Can you pick one batsman and one bowler you enjoyed describing the most on air..
A) That is very difficult. I have many favorites. When I was a kid, my favorite was Neil Harvey. I'm not a left hander. But Harvey was a terrific player in my eyes. I saw him get a 100 in Delhi and I fell in love. And I think there are certain moments which stay in your memories because of certain reasons. Subhash Gupte’s leg spin and googly. Vinoo Mankad’s all-round displays against New Zealand. These are what memories are made of. Chandu Borde just about getting a hundred in each innings (109 and 96 in a Test in Delhi v West Indies in 1959), with Vijay Manjrekar - with a fracture - coming in to bat to support him, forgetting what happened to the Test match result. We were only interested in whether Chandu got his second hundred of the match or not. But if I were to say which are the batsmen that I really would pay to watch. I mean, I'd love to watch Bishan (Bedi) bowl. You know, he was poetry in motion. I mean, from the sheer poetry of it. He was so smooth, so relaxed. The way he enjoyed his game, it was very endearing. A person that strangely, and this shocked me as well, and I said this on television a few years ago, a person I'd pay to go and watch would be Virender Sehwag. The way he just blasted the hell out of the bowlers and the consistency with which he has done. But I have a weakness for people who are probably a little more dour and a little more defensive. I thought Sunil Gavaskar, by far was the best opening batsman that I ever saw, not on film, but the best that I ever saw from the perspective of the load that he carried, the attitude that he had, and it was a pleasure to describe Sunny. But what gave me the greatest satisfaction in describing were the square cuts of Vishy (Viswanath). And if I were to continue in the same way, I think a person who I might love to love to watch and love to see play more and more would be Rahul (Dravid). I mean a lot of people will Sachin (Tendulkar). Sachin is great, of course, but Rahul, I think, never got the due that he should have got because he played at the same time. So there are plenty of people I mean, all over the world. There have been some terrific players. And I've been very, very fortunate in getting to see them. But then a lot of people will not know these names, but in 1960, Pakistan had many but they’ll just talk about Hanif (Mohammad). I thought Saeed Ahmed was a terrific player. People who know him say he was a precursor to Yousuf Youhana but a terrific player and pleasure to watch. I think every era produces its own greats. And all over the world, you will have certain class people. The on drive of Greg Chappell was a thing of beauty. So there are so many that you would love to (watch). Sometimes it's difficult even to remember, but it's been a very long innings for me, starting in 1971.

Q) Very few people know about your singing talent and I was among the privileged ones to have attended a concert of yours. You surprised me. I mean, I'd never known that you sing so fabulously. Why did you not pursue it or have regular concerts?
A) No no no. I am no singer. I'm just just an ordinary person who loves music. I have done a few concerts. I've learned some ghazal singing and some semi-classical music from Dilli Gharana. It was my Ustad, my Guruji who insisted that I should do a performance, and I've done a couple of them. But I sing basically to please myself, not for public consumption kind of thing. Music is something that is a great, great love of mine. And I love to listen, particularly old Hindi film songs and ghazals. And sometimes, in small groups of family and friends, I do sing, but I've stopped learning now. I'm 73. And there's comes a time when one must retire.

Q) How do you pass your time?
A) Being a doctor, both a practising doctor as well as a hospital administrator in health care management for the last few years has kept me very busy with work. Although I'm working part time, I'm still occupied three quarters of the day, five days a week at least.

Q) Your connect with the with this game which you have loved so much
A) Cricket I would say was my first love and you never forget your first love. Never. It isn't a game to me. It is life. The way a fielder is moved squarer, four yards to the right at gully; and this mid-on dropped five yards back carries to me a lot of messages. I guess cricket is like a game of chess. And that's why I enjoy it so much because it's a battle of wits. It's a battle of attrition. It's a battle where you can come back despite being down for some period of time, which the faster versions of game don't allow. I mean, it has everything that life has. How is it that somebody is dropped three times and gets a 100 and somebody gets a beauty of delivery, the first ball that he faces and gets out and never gets to play a match again. That's again life. That is how things work in life as well. People keep on getting opportunities till they make it big, and others fail once and are never given an opportunity. So there's an element to me of spirituality or something like gods. I know I'm sounding foolish. But that's the degree of love that I have for this sport. And it has been there with me. I don't know why. But from as long as I remember,

Q) How would you welcome the listener when the producer would connect with you in the commentators box in say Melbourne, and then how would you take us back to the studio when the last ball has been bowled?
A) It’s quite difficult to do. It reminds me of what Tiger (Pataudi) once told me. Tiger was a good friend and senior. I have nothing but praise for that man. He was very helpful to me. Tiger was once asked by All India Radio to judge how good a particular commentator was. It was by the Audience Research Unit. And since this conversation occurred whilst the two of us were in the commentators box and this gentleman was asking him whether he could do it, he said yes, I will do it. Provided that I am also sitting in the ground and watching the match when this is happening and listening in. Not that you record five minutes and make me listen to it in the radio. So of course, they didn't do it and he didn't kind of sit in judgement. He was absolutely right. Unless and until you are there, seeing the action, with that smell of grass, you can't tell. You are a journalist yourself for so many years of distinction behind you, you know what it is?

Q) I agree the presence at ground is critical to capture the ambience….
A) That smell of the earth, that smell of the grass, that atmosphere gets to you. So without that it's very difficult. So during our days, there were lots of do's and don'ts. You used to get a sheet of paper as to what you could or you couldn't say at that time, it's kind of stymied you to a considerable extent But it was, after all, a Government of India undertaking and one can understand that there had to be certain SOPs laid down. Basically you have to be yourself. The idea is that you must not forget what are called the fundamentals of broadcasting. That is the use of the mic. How much is the ambient noise level around you? The second thing is that when you're greeting or you're taking somebody back to this thing, you're leaving them with information. Remember in radio the thing is that everybody is not able to hear every single moment. So in between breaks while you're, you know, maybe taken a coffee break, you're listening to five minutes of commentary. So, if you are in that space, that you are able to judge these things, that the person will need every two to three minutes, an update of what the score, is who's batting on how much, etc, then this is a very important exercise. It might appear repetitive. But it is very important to realize what does the listener want? It's like the same as a good teacher wanting to understand not to show his knowledge, but to understand what does the student want from him? What level is he? So fundamentally, it's very easy. So all that you got to do is put yourself in the listeners shoe, and then describe what will be the situation. In the beginning obviously you're going to say “Good morning, welcome to so and so ground. It's the third day of the match. It's a lovely day. The skies are blue and India are 213 for three, with Kohli batting on such and such and etcetera, etcetera. You do that, just as a quick recap, summarizing in probably 30 seconds, the situation. When you go back, you wouldn't just say that when disaster struck, as far as cricket lovers are concerned, it's not only just rain, it is torrential rain. And it doesn't look like any more play is possible with India on 313 for seven, so and so batting at such such score. This person is batting at such and such score. It's been a day of mixed fortunes for India. Some of them will go back a bit more satisfied than the others. But given the fact that they're batting first, having won the toss, having 300 on the board with inclement whether it's a good position to be in. We'll be with you tomorrow morning, hopefully, with clear blue skies. Till then, bye.” Something like that.

Q) Thanks you for sparing time for THE HINDU and SPORTSTAR despite being busy with work related to COVID-19
A) Thank you. And, to all my countrymen, I would say stay positive. But this is one moment when saying stay negative. That means COVID negative. It is probably the better way to end the conversation. Thank you very much for having me.

Source and Credit :-
Forwarded by :- Shri. Jhavendra Kumar Dhruw.

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