After a thriller match against Bangladesh, in which India won by a narrow margin of one run. Bollywood Megastar Amitabh Bachchan took to Twitter to express his displeasure over the nature of commentary by Indian commentators.
T 2184 – With all due respects, it would be really worthy of an Indian commentator to speak more about our players than others all the time.
— Amitabh Bachchan (@SrBachchan) March 23, 2016
To which Indian Skipper MS Dhoni backed and tweeted,
Nothing to add https://t.co/8rBel3vw4o
— Mahendra Singh Dhoni (@msdhoni) March 23, 2016
This created storm in the social media. So, Indian Commentator Harsha Bhogle put up a long Facebook post defending his commentary and was at pains to explain the concept of unbiased commentary on global television.
Here is a full text of his Facebook post–
“I must confess to being a bit taken aback by the intensity of the criticism yesterday over the question of focussing more on Indian players during the telecast. It emerged after a tweet from Mr Amitabh Bachchan, someone I admire enormously for the dignified way in which he has always conducted himself. The assumption among some people was that he was referring to me and while I don’t know if that is true, it did strike me that there seems a slight misconception about the role of a commentator in a telecast. I will try and clarify here.
I have, incidentally, sent Mr. Bachchan a DM on twitter offering an explanation (in passing, the fact that he follows me gives me a great buzz!).
There are two kinds of broadcasts available to Indian viewers. One, on Star Sports 1 is the world feed. That is the telecast, and commentary that goes to everyone around the world. That includes, passionate fans in Bangladesh and Pakistan, in South Africa, Australia, England, the USA, everywhere. That broadcast must necessarily be an objective, balanced portrayal of events. Making that excessively India-centric means being unfair to other teams playing and to viewers from their countries who have the right to be as passionately involved as Indian supporters. And so, talking more about India, in a game like yesterday’s, would be letting down viewers in, say, Bangladesh.
But the viewer must get insights into either team and so producers have commentators from each country who can draw a better picture of the players, and of the sentiments of their land.
I remember, as a young man, listening to radio broadcasts of matches India played overseas, and occasionally watching highlights on a tv in a neighbour’s house, and being very hurt at the fact that they focussed almost entirely on their own players. It was something that stayed in my mind long before I dreamt that I could be a commentator.
Then there is the Hindi feed that you watch on Star Sports 3. The pictures are largely the same but the telecast goes to a fairly well defined geographical zone. And, obviously, to people who understand Hindi. There the commentary can be India-centric, not biased but India-centric. You can look at every situation from an Indian point of view and that is acceptable. I believe you must still explain what the opposition feels but you can look at the story through Indian eyes, something you cannot do on a world feed.
I hope that explains things. A commentator is still open to criticism but ideally, in the light of what I have just outlined.
On a slightly different note, I have always felt that people take commentary, and commentators, too seriously. We are merely storytellers, the players create the story. We don’t influence the game and our role is no more than to be a guide to watching the game.”