FIFA World Cup 2018: Shaiju Damodaran's energetic Malayalam commentary transcends language barries to become global hit
Shaiju Damodaran's energetic commentary during Ronaldo’s 87th minute free-kick goal proved that sports, like music and cinema, has no language barriers.
In the 87th minute, Portugal won a free-kick outside the edge of the box against Spain, who were leading 3-2. Cristiano Ronaldo — with his usual routine – walked backwards, took a deep sigh before positioning himself to take the free-kick. A small run-up and Ronaldo latched the ball past the Spanish wall and left David de Gea dumbfounded.
Portugal 3 Spain 3. The Ronaldo moment had arrived.
As the world stood still, India experienced the famous Shaiju Damodaran moment. The Malayalam football commentator couldn’t contain himself as he was left in awe of Ronaldo’s picture-perfect free-kick. ‘Ronaldooooo’, he screamed.
And that was just the beginning.
His energetic commentary during Ronaldo’s 87th minute free-kick goal proved that sports, like music and cinema, has no language barriers.
Here's a translation of the commentary:
"Sochi (the Russian venue) with bated breath. Portugal trailing 2-3. Ronaldo takes the free kick... Cristiano Ronaldo. (Ronaldo scores with a curler) Ronaldooooooo... You watch this... why this man is called a genius on this planet," Damodaran screamed.
"This goal shows why this dear son of Portugal deserves to be called a genius. (Switches to English) Cristiano Ronaldo is over the moon. Portugal is 3-3. Goodness! What a goal! Cristiano Ronnnaldo...."
— Mohandas Menon (@mohanstatsman) June 16, 2018
There was more to come. The animated Damodaran borrowed a few Tamil lines from Rajinikanth's blockbuster Kabali. “Naan vandittennu sollu... thirumbi vandittennu sollu... Rono vendittenu sollu... Ronaldo da, Cristiano Ronaldo (Tell them I'm back; tell them Rono is back)," he screamed. The video is still doing rounds on social media platforms and the internet has not stopped raving about it. His high-voltage commentary captivated even the non-Malayalis like Mahindra group chairman Anand Mahindra, who couldn’t resist from tweeting that he is switching to the Malayalam commentary, as the calm English commentary hardly matches the thrill of the throaty screams.
Ok that’s it. I’m switching to this channel with commentary in Malayalam. No, I don’t understand the language but I don’t need to—these guys are so pumped up they make the English & Hindi commentators sound tame! pic.twitter.com/yWqApVx6jp — anand mahindra (@anandmahindra) June 16, 2018
Damodaran is a familiar voice for football fans in Kerala. The fans tune in to Asianet TV just to listen to Damodaran’s aberrant commentary.
“Ray Hudson and Martin Taylor are my heroes. When I listen to Hudson's commentary for La Liga or Tylers’ for English Premier League, I may not get the meaning verbatim. However, I get the spirit of the sport. I try and emulate that," the 45-year-old was quoted as saying by News18.
Apart from being a regular voice for the Indian Super League (ISL) since its inception, Damodaran has contributed for the popular Sevens Tournament in Kerala’s Malabar region. The commentator's voice was also heard in the Malayalam movie Captain, a biopic of former Kerala football captain VP Sathyan.
Damodaran began as a trainee journalist in Mathrubhumi’s sports magazine and worked on his unique style and commentary. “I was a journalist for twenty years and to be accurate while commentating I go back to those roots. However, I am much happier now than during that period. I switched careers at the right time,” he added.
Later, he was the venue media manager when the 2017 U-17 World Cup matches were held in Kochi.
FIFA World Cup 2018’s official broadcaster Sony Pictures Networks (SPN) India, increased its regional outreach with the addition of Tamil and Telugu live language feeds. This is the first time that the FIFA World Cup will be telecast in multiple languages in the country.
In India, Hindi is very widely spoken and consumed along with the vernacular language. However, SPN sees this as a unique market where, besides English, viewers can tune in to Tamil or Bengali commentary. Indian football fans can only rejoice with so many options to choose from.
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