The RJ-actor-commentator talks about the ongoing event, coping with the sudden deaths of Dean Jones and SPB, and plans for his upcoming movie ‘Mookkuthi Amman’
Every half hour or so throughout the TV telecast of the IPL, a query pops up for the commentators. It is normally requesting an evidence about staff mixture, methods or alternative of pictures.
On Sunday night, when Chennai triumphed in opposition to Punjab, the query that popped up on Star Sports Tamil was nothing to do with cricket. “Balaji anna, are you really going on leave for a couple of weeks?,” posted an anguished viewer.
Cricket at the IPL has been a welcome aid for sports activities followers after a couple of months of fixed Covid-related updates. But what has stored followers throughout Tamil Nadu glued to their TV units each night is RJ Balaji’s wisecracks and comedian punchlines which have made even boring matches watchable.
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“The response [to Tamil commentary] has been amazing this year. 2020 has been such a dismal year that we wanted the IPL to cheer up people. And it has,” says Balaji, over telephone from Mumbai.
He is referring to the overwhelming response that the Tamil commentary staff has been getting. Balaji, specifically, has obtained loads of congratulatory messages from individuals who say that his gags have lifted their spirits in troubled instances. “My biggest strength is that I am not pretending to be someone else. I have earned this acceptance because of my stint in media for the past 15 years. Also, the sport has evolved; cricket has become family entertainment and that’s where I come in.”
RJ Balaji with Krishnamachari Srikkanth
He believes that his couple of hours on air throughout the IPL matches provides spice to this leisure and regales households who’ve tuned in for cricket. “We get preparatory material before the match so I know the basics. But I leave the cricket talk to the experts and indulge in humour, which is unprepared.” His on-the-spot jokes are extensively shared on social media and WhatsApp teams, which unfold smiles at the same time as folks watched the battle between bat and ball keenly.
This consists of his feedback at any time when a batsman hits a six (“the ball is lost, and it costs ₹ 15,000, and if I had that, I would have paid the electricity bill for the month”) and when there’s any peculiar cricketing motion on show. He can be in style for his pronunciation of cricketers’ names… Eoin Morgan and Rahul’s names roll off Balaji’s tongue like they’ve been put inside a mixer grinder. “I reflect everyday life in cricket commentary. I see myself as a reflection of people,” he says.
A special outing
The RJ-actor has been related to Star Sports Tamil since its launch in 2017, however this yr has been completely different. “So many people are working behind the scenes to bring you live action. We want everyone to be safe and so get tested for COVID-19 every week. When we landed, we were locked in the room for 14 days and we are in a bio-bubble now. There are several protocols, but that is required to feel safe and keep us going for the next few weeks.”
Balaji’s stint to date has been largely full of enjoyable and humour, however the one occasion that left him in shock was the sudden passing away of Australian cricketer-turned-commentator Dean Jones. “Just the night before, he was talking to us about the busy cricket calendar in 2021 and how he would find it difficult to juggle between his commitments. I told him these exact words, ‘You don’t know what is going to happen in the next few days. How can you plan so far ahead?’ The next day, I woke up to the news of his death. It left me devastated.”
The subsequent passing away of singer SP Balasubrahmanyam additionally marked a tragic section for Balaji, however the present should go on, as they are saying, and Balaji sported his common cheerful self on air throughout every week wherein he was feeling dismal. “It was difficult, but TV is a live medium in which we convey our mood to millions of houses watching it. We had to somehow go on with it,” says the actor, whose co-commentators embrace Krishnamachari Srikanth, Hemang Badani, Abhinav Mukund, Subramaniam Badrinath, Muthu and RK.
Fans of his Tamil commentary will miss him for the subsequent couple of weeks, when he’s on depart. He doesn’t reveal the motive for his absence, however sources say it’s to finalise launch plans for his upcoming movie, ‘Mookkuthi Amman’, starring Nayanthara. So, how’s that coming alongside? “The film is complete, but even if theatres open, I’m not sure how open families will be to visit cinema halls. My film is a family entertainer, and so we are waiting for the right time to make announcements. For now, there’s cricket for them to enjoy.”