Bringing alive India's golden cricket episodes

Jairaj Galagali is not just another cricket lover. He strives to bring us rare cricket footage, some not even seen by the players who figure in them.

Cricket fan and chronicler Jairaj Galagali, who shares rare footages with a voice-over for Indian cricket fans.   -  Sandeep Saxena

Why would anyone spend hours in editing raw footage, add his voice and make it presentable to cricket lovers the world over? But Jairaj Galagali is not just another cricket lover. He strives to bring us rare cricket footage, some not even seen by the players who figure in them.

On a visit to home town Bangalore, he sought out the legendary G. R. Viswanath for a brief chat. “They (G. R. V. and wife Kavita) recognised me from my brief introduction to the 1980 Golden Jubilee Test highlights that I had uploaded. I got to spend one hour with my hero. This little kid in me just doesn’t want to grow,” says Galagali, a dedicated chronicler of sorts of cricket from the past.

Friends and followers

The Golden Jubilee Test was 3 1/2 minutes of silent news reel from a ten-minute footage. “It took me ages to prepare that video. It gave me the greatest gratification.” Thanks to social media, Galagali, a senior director with Oracle Corporation, is able to reach out to cricket lovers. He has won countless friends and followers with his service to the game — unearthing cricket videos from the past and reliving some very glorious moments.

It is a tedious job. “I use DVD ripper to convert the footage to MR4 file. I then edit it, give a voice-over, and I have to record it myself on the phone. I have to read the history of the match. I am not an expert on the subject. I am just a common cricket lover. In one minute I have to analyse the match with lot of rehearsal. For five days I prepare the script to be ready at weekend. Word economy is so crucial for me. The package is then converted into a video file for my cricket friends to enjoy.”

Galagali left Bangalore in 1996 in search of better opportunities but carried his love for cricket with him. “I would watch matches on television but missed the time at venues back home. Ranji Trophy was so much fun,” he remembered. And his “friendship” with spin great B. S. Chandrasekhar.

‘Nostalgic moments’

Collecting cricket video was his “hobby” and cricket from the years gone by gave him goosebumps. “It gives me joy when I am able to retrieve some of these nostalgic moments from our cricket history and share it with my friends on YouTube and Twitter.”

Some painstaking archival research has enabled Galagali bring us stars of the golden past: an India-Pakistan series in 1952; India’s historic win over England at Madras in 1962; Chandrasekhar’s debut Test series in 1964; G. R. Viswanath’s debut Test at Kanpur in 1969 against Australia; great moments from the 1974-75 home series against the West Indies. Gems that cricket fans have loved and acknowledged widely.

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Galagali livens the videos with his comments on the proceedings in the absence of commentary. He also packs in vignettes of the times, like a hit film song of that period to rekindle your memories. “It involves big effort, like procuring the footage, editing it with lot of research and data. I visit the Stanford Library to go through newspapers of those times and then add my comment. I have to be accurate too, add elements like crowd applause and the sound of bat hitting the ball. I love to create an ambience to make the video more interesting.”

Blessed with a rich voice, Galagali taught himself by listening to commentaries from documentaries. “Especially BBC. John Arlott was a big influence. To make a ten-minute video I have to work for months,” says Galagali.

Audio books

Galagali, who lives in California with wife (Kalpana) and son (Tarun), also produces audio books for visually challenged children. “They have to compete with other students and need some amusement too. I bring them stories in the form that makes them happy.” His audio book ‘Father’s Help’, a story from R. K. Narayan’s Malgudi Days, and Rabindranath Tagore’s ‘Kabuliwala’ have received huge appreciation. “I love telling short stories for blind students — they are played in classrooms at Shree Ramana Maharishi School for the Blind (Bangalore) and also at a cancer care center for children. In Malgudi Days, I have done seven voices, including the intro singing.”

His love for cricket is well supported by his family. Recently, he flew down from U.S. to fulfill a longtime desire to meet the legendary Kapil Dev. “I met him in Mumbai and it was an incredible day for me. I also met some members from the North Stand Gang, an amazing group of youngsters who support cricket and cricketers.” Galagali also managed to squeeze in a visit to The Hindu/Sportstar office in Delhi. “My favourite cricket chroniclers.”

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