New Delhi: After being in the job for 50 years, an ace cricket commentator in Hindi Sushil Doshi on Monday described himself in the role of Sanjaya, one of the protagonists in Mahabharata.Indore-born Doshi, who is India’s first cricket commentator in Hindi, is in New Delhi to do commentary on South Africa versus ODI series.Doshi spoke exclusively to the UNI on completing 50 years this month as a sports commentator.
He said, "A commentator’s success lies in transforming moments from one place to another, much like Sanjaya in Mahabharata. From Sanjaya’s blow by blow account of the war, King Dhritrashtra could visualise whatever was happening in Kurukshetra. That has been my aim in giving ball by ball account of a match.’’Doshi, 70, is credited with bringing to the job a certain style, flair for the Hindi language, sense of humour, keen sense of observation, lots of literature and use of terminology that is close to people’s heart.
Over the years he has evolved into being a sports writer and has written two books, 'Khel Patrakarita' in 2003, and 'Cricket Ka Mahabharat' in 2017.He is now in the middle of a campaign to bring back sports commentary in Hindi to its original glory as against the use of `Hinglish’, which, he says, is an insult to the grammar of Hindi language.
"We wanted to make the Hindi commentary a culture. Today we are fighting to save that culture. They are committing hara kiri with expressions like 'cricket kheli (not khela) jaa rahi hai or wicket geela hai (not geeli hai). Once when a player got injured and was limping, someone said, `khiladi ka chaal-chalan kharab ho gaya hai.’ This is a joke with Hindi language. What are we teaching to the young generation?’’ he asked.
Charging the BCCI with ignoring the tinkering with Hindi language commentary, Doshi said, "I have this complaint with BCCI also. They are selling Indian contracts to foreigners, okay, but nobody has given them the right to sell the country’s language. Why have you sold desh ki bhasha? This is my charge.’’It was his passion for the art of commentary that brought Doshi as a young schoolboy in 1968 to the Indore All-India Radio when word had got around that they were looking for a cricket commentator in Hindi. At the time he was turned back, but when the match (Ranji Trophy between Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan) actually was to begin and nobody was in sight, Station Director Nagrekar decided to give him a chance.
That began a journey which has completed 50 years and is still going strong. He was awarded the Padmashri in 2017.Educated in Vaishnav Higher Secondary School and GSITC Engineering College in Indore, Doshi is an Electrical Engineer. He spends part of his time looking after the family business of manufacturing branded food grade plastic-ware and dealership of a two-wheeler company in Indore, Madhya Pradesh. So that he can pursue his talent as a commentator, his younger brother mostly takes care of the business.
"I was crazy about cricket and played in school and college, but then did not have the finances to continue even though my father was a businessman. Moreover, my father laid emphasis on the education of his children. However, from a young age, I used to copy the earlier commentators from the BBC and ABC. I would observe their style, their words, way of delivery and so on,’’ he said.
Recalling an incident, Doshi said that when he was aged 14, he persuaded his father to take him to Bombay to watch India versus Australia test match. But little did they know that if 50,000 people were inside the stadium, as many were outside trying to get in. A policeman who had observed them running around for four days, offered to help but allowed entry inside the stadium only to Doshi.
Describing the scene Doshi said, "I went in and watched all the great cricketers in action: I saw Australian Captain Richie Benaud, Neil Harvey, Norman O’Neill, Anil (Babu) Nadkarni (he was bowling maiden after maiden) and the Indian Captain Gulabrai Ramchand. Then I looked up at the commentator box and saw Vijay Merchant and Bobby Talyarkhan and thought if I too will one day do commentary like them. As fate would have it, I did my first test match (India versus England) commentary from the same box in 1972-73 when I was just 22 years old.’’
There was no looking back after that. Doshi has since completed almost 400 One-Day Internationals, and more than 85 Test matches. He is the only sports commentator in the country who has covered 10 World Cups in cricket including five in 50-50 overs and five in T-20 format.Doshi says he never gets carried away while doing commentary: "I have learnt the art of curbing emotions because a commentator has to be impartial. Not only quality time, but you have to give equal footage to both the sides. If opponents are doing well you have got to praise them. If your team is not doing well, you have to criticise them.’’
With a command over the Hindi language Doshi has improved the vocabulary of cricket and contributed expressions like 'shanka ka galiyara' for corridor of uncertainty. Once when Sunny (Sunil) Gavaskar was batting at 100-plus and the sun was setting, he remarked, ``Bhale hi suraj doob raha hai, magar bharat ka suraj aaj bhi pooree chamak ke saath vidyaman hai.’’ (Even if the sun is setting here, India’s sun (Sunny) is shining bright.)For his work Doshi has received high praise from the likes of Sunil Gavaskar, Mohinder Amarath, Madan Lal, Maninder Singh, Bobby Talyarkhan so much so that a commentator’s box in Holkar Stadium in Indore has been named "Sushil Doshi Commentary Box’’ after him. Only two other commentators share the honour in the world: Brian Johnston at the Oval in United Kingdom and Omar Qureshi at Gaddafi Stadium in Pakistan.
On why there were no women commentators in cricket he said, "They are coming up. There is Anjum Chopra. She is a player also. She is doing reasonably well in English commentary. In Hindi, you cannot see any. Col CK Naidu’s daughter Chandra Naidu did two-three matches but she did not get much chance. Now in Indian women’s cricket team, there are Hindi-speaking players. Let’s see, once they retire some may become Hindi commentators.’’Asked about a foremost quality of a good sports commentator, he said, "The person should speak from the heart and touch the heart.’’ (UNI)