Growing up in Kathmandu, Sanjeeb Shilpakar was one of the thousands of fans of the legendary radio presenter and Radio Nepal commentator Pandav Sunuwar. While others wondered about the face behind the famous voice, Shilpakar not only knew how Sunuwar looked like, he had the opportunity to accompany him to football matches.
“I knew him personally, and that made it easier for me. I used to ask him if I could accompany him to the grounds ; the gentleman ‘sir’ is, he never said no,” adds Shilpakar who knew from an early age that this was the man whose footsteps he wanted to follow. “Sports was my passion,” he shares, “There was nothing I wanted to do more than this and as I look back it has been a wonderful journey.”
Shilpakar started his career with state broadcaster Nepal Television (NTV) in 2002 as a presenter for ‘Khel Khel’, a weekly sports show. But before that could happen, he hosted programmes around Patan to hone his skills. It was only a matter of time before he became a well known MC in his area. The NTV job gave him the break he had been yearning for, but working at the TV station was not easy, especially in the preinternet era.
“Back then, things were different. There was no internet and research was particularly hard,” he adds. For a young man who was mainly passionate about football, Shilpakar had to do cover all sports and that also was a bit of a challenge. “Live commentaries of football were easy compared to other sports because rules change and if you don’t know the rules it becomes hard. Tennis was particularly a different challenge as the commentators hardly speak in between points and the level of excitement is subdued as compared to cricket or football.” he shares.
“I started watching sports coverage outside Nepal and learned a lot from them. The fact that I understood things quickly made it very easy,” he adds.
Before the high speed internet age, journalism in Nepal was tough, especially sports reporting. Reporters had to go through a lot to make sure they got the correct information from their sources. “I remember when the Turkmenistan team came to Nepal I did a lot to get a good story. But there was a problem; none of them spoke English which made it tough. But patiently, we did get the stories we were looking for,” he shares.
When Nepal’s teams travelled to other parts of Asia, the challenges would multiply. “As soon as something happened, I used to call Kathmandu to give them details. If you look at reporters now they have it very easy,” he adds.
Shilpakar has now become synonymous with sports commentary in Nepal–a generation of fans have grown up listening to him describe Bimal Gharti Magar’s goals and Sompal Kami’s wickets. In a career spanning over 16 years, Shilpakar has done it all. From commentating on badminton to hosting sports shows on Nepal Television, there is hardly any sport that Shilpakar hasn’t covered.
But this week Shilpakar enters into an unfamiliar zone as he will bring the FIFA World Cup to the Nepali audience, that too in Nepali. He recently joined Dish Home Media. “This is a new challenge in my life, one in which I hope I can pass with flying colours. It’s something new that we’re trying and maybe it will be received well by the viewers,” he adds.
We will have to wait and see if this new project of his will be a success or not but it is sure that Shilpakar will give his best. To make sure things will be ready, he is training a team of young football lovers to commentate alongside him. “I can’t do this alone which is why I have a team of young guys who are working extremely hard to make sure we have enough information as possible.”
In Nepal, everyone is a celebrity. Once you go viral on the internet, you’re famous. Take the example of ‘Tarkari Wali’, she went so viral that she even appeared in a recent movie. The internet has made everything so easy but Shilpakar has made it till here without the internet.
He’s a celebrity in his own right so much so that people recognise him through his voice rather than his name or face. “I feel very proud as people recognise me through my voice and I’m grateful to all the sports lovers and sports enthusiasts. A reason why I have never wanted to anything else.”
Published on June 13th, Wednesday, 2018 11:29 AM