Cricket, Kannada and some bombaat banter — filmmaker Suneel Raghavendra’s podcast Cricket Kannadiga guarantees a taste of all three. As someone who’s a hard-core cricket aficionado, Suneel has always loved discussing the game with friends and frenemies. “The idea that maybe someone might like to listen to our chatter or participate came around the time I made my first feature film Puta Tirugisi Nodi. The story revolved around a bunch of kids playing a cricket match to settle an argument. I had a couple of characters that play pretend cricket experts. Given how much fun my actors had improvising on the dialogue and the people who watched it as well, I thought this was an idea to work on. An informal gathering of cricket “experts” sharing opinions and trading barbs in Kannada. It took a while to actually get to making the show,” reveals Suneel.
His podcast has had eight episodes so far with the first episode being aired on the day the Test series began between the men’s teams of India and Australia, while the Ranji league matches were on too. “While a large part of most episodes focus on recent match updates around the world, invariably something happens that has a history or precedent as well. When we were about to start the first episode, the saga with the women’s team coach happened. So, we took the opportunity to reflect on all the times there’s been controversy surrounding coaches in Indian cricket,” Suneel explains.
Suneel’s fervent team comprises four people who are not just buddies but are also a part of a passionate Whatsapp group that follows Karnataka cricket, in particular. “My teammates Alok, Madhura and Thejaswi come in with in-depth knowledge about the game and up-to-date information. I bring the passion and production skills. I’m greatly inspired by Mandira Bedi — I think there’s a lot of space for different perspectives to be part of the team,” he says.
Giving us a little background about himself, Suneel reveals that he was a gully cricket enthusiast. “I could barely bat, barely bowl (or throw), couldn’t field to save my life. But between that, school and the several (caught Dravid; bowled Kumble) dismissals, I can confidently say there’s no other sport I feel as connected to. I’m now a filmmaker, the other thing I was passionate about. But at least in this case, the lack of my athletic abilities wasn’t going to impede my learning the craft. As it so happened, my first feature film came to involve cricket as the backdrop to the rest of the story,” he says.
As for what’s lined-up on his podcast, Suneel states that they will still continue discussing the latest matches. “But I’m really keen on compiling conversations about the off-field aspects too — coaching technique and relevance, mental health, social aspects of the game; in Kannada. Considering the rising popularity of the women’s game as well as expanding coverage of the domestic tournaments, we’re in an exciting time. At times, cricket is an intimidating sport to follow, especially if one is new to the game. I hope Cricket Kannadiga is as fun for a long-time fan as it is for someone just starting to appreciate the game,” he signs off.