Bahut hi karibi maamla tha! Post ko choomti hui nikal gayi ball.
Stoke City forward Jonathan Walters’s header may have kissed and missed the Manchester City goal nine days ago, but Premier League commentary in Hindi has hit the TRP jackpot.
While some cringe and others chuckle at the sound of the “lambi seetee (long whistle)”, the buzz in broadcasting circles is that Premier League’s desi flavour has found favour among football fans.
“On the very first evening of the tournament this year, viewership jumped 358 per cent over last year’s opening game. The average time spent watching Premier League matches also went up from six to 17 minutes,” an official of ESPN-STAR Sports said.
Techie Arijit Banerjee is not among them. The Manchester City fan almost fell off his chair when he switched on the TV two Saturdays ago to find the STAR Sports commentator going ga-ga over a Sergio Aguero sprint in “shuddh Hindi”.
“Rakshakon ko chakma dete huye badhiya daud Aguero-ki goal ke or,” the commentator screamed, leaving Arijit fumbling with the remote in his hurry to find the audio select button.
“I had seen some promos about Premier League commentary in Hindi but wasn’t prepared to hear it! I wanted my English commentary back,” he said.
Arijit quickly phoned a friend for language help but fellow fan Judhajit Mitra quite enjoys hearing commentators start a match with “Aur isi ke saath khachakhach bhara huya maidan mein match shuru”.
“It brings back memories of watching football matches on Doordarshan as a teenager with the sound of crackers going off in the stands,” Judhajit, a resident of Maniktala, said.
If the option of Hindi commentary has added to ESPN-STAR Sports’s viewership, the little gems flowing off the expert’s tongue are creating a new Premier League vocabulary.
“Khiladiyon mein josh kam hota dikh raha hai. Ab ek goal ki zaroorat hai iss game ko,” a commentator would say if the players looked listless.
“Break ke baad khel ka laye toot gaya hai,” he would declare if the pace of a match slackened post half-time.
According to fans tuning in to Hindi commentary, the language is sometimes accented but each commentator in the line-up appears knowledgeable about the game and eager to give the fan an insight into what’s happening on the ground.
“If the referee signals off-side, a commentator would most likely elaborate on the off-side rule. If Peter Crouch comes on, he will immediately comment on his height and go on to tell you about his hometown and the clubs he has played for,” said teenager Akash Jaiswal. “It sounds cool when you hear something like ‘Agar goalkeeper ko giraya gaya box ke bhitar toh goal kick ki jaati hai, free kick nahin’ from a qualified voice.”
To promote the Premier League, ESPN-STAR Sports had brought in Mahendra Singh Dhoni, a goalkeeper in his school days before cricket beckoned.
Sources said the Team India and Chennai Super Kings skipper was the “obvious choice” of brand ambassador to extend an invitation to the uninitiated, especially the cricket fan, to watch Premier League football and listen to Hindi commentary.
“We thought Dhoni would be perfect for this and our choice has worked,” a spokesperson for the broadcaster said.
ESPN-STAR Sports will be showing 140 matches live with Hindi commentary this season, apart from deferred live telecast of 50 matches.
There are magazine shows every week along with previews, reviews and a 30-minute programme exclusively on goals scored.
A six-episode build-up to the Premier League had focused on the multiple facets of the championship — famous owners, top clubs and, of course, the top players. The information in graphics and charts were all in Hindi.
In one of the promos still on air, Dhoni is seen dodging wife Sakshi to avoid going to a film premiere so that he can catch a Premier League match on TV with his pals.
In another, he leaves it to his on-screen manager to dribble past commitments on the evening of a Man U tie.
The connect is clear. Dhoni represents desi and the Premier League just came home.
Have you listened to Hindi commentary while watching Premier League action? Tell firstname.lastname@example.org