The “Become a Guest commentator” was a TV show that aimed at choosing one person to commentate on international cricket matches that were telecast on the Bharti network along with the professional commentators like Harsha Boghle and Ravi Shastri. There were advertisements on TV calling for aspiring candidates to send their resumes along with their full size photographs. Being the cricket fan I was, I decided to send an application. Since I did not have any recent individual full size shots of me worthy enough to send, I took a few at a studio and sent them.
After about a week, which seemed like eternity I received a phone call asking me to send a 10 minute video talking about any one cricket player of my choice. I choose my favorite player, Indian star batsman Sachin Tendulkar, who was then the captain of the Indian national squad, and made the home video. I Was asked to either upload online or send it. I uploaded the video online. This time the response was quicker. In about two days time I received a call from the organizers asking me to come to Mumbai for a series of spot auditions which if I crossed all stages would last for ten days.
The organizers provided accommodations for the stay in Mumbai but the travel was my responsibility. I wanted to be fresh for the auditions and so took s flight to Mumbai rather than riding the train. I was received at the airport along with a few others who had also come for auditioning and taken to a four star hotel where I had to share the room with a few other contestants.
The next morning we were picked up via buses and were taken to the studio where the audition was to begin at noon. This was a long wait and there were at least a thousand other contestants waiting. The contestants varied in age, appearance and occupation, I was amazed to see that even a few senior citizens had also come. As soon as we reached the studio we were relieved of our entry forms and were each given a big label containing our entry number. It was by this number that we would hereafter be known, for judging purposes, for the rest of the ten days.
After a long wait, and a good lunch and evening tea, it was my turn to go in. Since the contestants who went in went out by a different gate we did not know what we were asked to do inside. The first stage was simple. There were three judges from the studio who talked to me while I was made to sit on a high platform, they talked to me for five minutes as to why I wanted to participate and how I planned to balance commentating and college (since I was in college then) if selected, etc.,
After that there was an eye test in the next room where I was asked to identify objects and letters which were far away. I aced through the eye test and as I went out after the eye test I was told that I had been selected for the next round. The next phase consisted of three stages and we would be given the result only after two days. Meanwhile at the hotel since only one-third of the original strength remained we were allotted double rooms which we had to share with fewer persons.
The next day dawned sunny and clear. We were again transported by buses to the studio and the wait began again. I practically waited the whole day. At last I went in to discover that this was a round where the tested my knowledge of cricket. About 15 members who were experts in cricket discussed various technical aspects of the game. This was followed by a round of group discussion among the contestants which was video recorded, there were no moderators present.
The next morning, the third stage of the second phase was a written test of grammar and the English language. This test was conducted to all candidates at once. After the test was over we were taken to a tour of the studio. It was a fun tour and we got to see how the cameras were angled to precisely focus only on the specific sets and how what I had thought to be various locations turned out to be different backgrounds of the same settings. This made me change the way I looked at things thereafter. I learned that there is more to anything than what meets the eye as I saw the efforts being put into something as common as a cricket match. I from then on made it a point to appreciate even small things that I noticed that I felt would mostly go unnoticed. This habit i learned here, I can proudly declare, has helped me in more than situation.
After two days of getting to know the other contestants and touring the various places in Mumbai, I got the news that I was one among the 100 participants chosen to proceed to the next stage. There were still three more phases left at the end of which 30 contestants would be shortlisted to participate on the actual show that would pick a winner by eliminating 5 contestants each week based on judges score and TV viewers votes.
The next phase consisted of three tasks, one was to commentate a match by viewing the highlights of the match on a big screen, I did that pretty well, that was followed by a voice and makeup test which again I aced. The final step was commentating a local cricket match using all the methods that were actually used in a real TV telecast. This included numerous monitors with each one displaying inputs from each camera and other showing the score, there were also several computers loaded with statistics about various matches that were somehow related to the current match. Then we were hooked onto a headset with three different inputs, one a feedback of the commentary enabling me to hear what the other commentator was saying, another one audio input from the stump camera and a third one streaming inputs from the producer guiding us on what to talk and other official stuff.Â
It was in this stage that I performed abysmally. It all started of well. I started to commentate and the match was going in a quick pace, then about 10 min later the match slowed down. When it started to slow the producer started to instruct us on what to speak about. That is when all the chaos started. I could hardly concentrate on what was going on when he started to speak, that mingled with the sudden happenings in the game was my breaking point. I ended up missing some vital points of the game and at one point I completely stopped speaking. As anybody’s guess I did not proceed to the next level.
The week I spent auditioning was a lifetime experience. I will never forget the days I spent in Mumbai meeting new people, learning new things and best of all getting to know how much effort is put into telecasting my favorite game live. Though I did not like myself to be one in thousands selected for auditioning or that of sharing the room with others I most certainly liked all other aspects of the event. I did not give up on my dream and fulfilled it a few years later when I commentated on the regional channel for district matches, and since i love the game more than anything else enjoyed doing it as much as I would have enjoyed commentating for the international matches.