Tanay Tiwari, alumnus ILNU on working as a Sports Broadcaster at Cricbuzz

Tanay Tiwari who is presently working at Cricbuzz has been interviewed by EBC/SCC Online Student Ambassador Aastha Srivastava. 

“It has indeed been just 4 IPLs since that fateful Motera game in 2015 and life seems to have changed so much already! I’m still not where I aspire to be, I’m not good enough yet. I still make more mistakes than anyone at my workplace and learn from each one of them. But each day when I punch in and get to work, I try with all my might. And in the end, I believe, that is all that counts. Trying hard! If you do that, each day with the same honesty, one day the key will turn, the door will open and beyond it will be an exact manifestation of your dream.”- Tanay Tiwari

  1. Tell us a bit about yourself.

Hi I’m Tanay Tiwari, a lawyer with a degree and a sports broadcaster without one. I work at Cricbuzz – the world’s biggest cricket platform, as an Anchor and a Video Producer

  1. How did you make up your mind to pursue sports journalism?

Ummm, I don’t think you can pin point any one instance and say ‘that’s when I decided’. Decisions, especially life-changing ones, are an entire process. It is in your sub-conscious mind,  and kind of materialises only when you’re brave enough to admit to it. Wanting to become a Sports broadcaster was one such decision.

I was always good on stage, I’d narrate plays, emcee events, participate in debates (win quite a few of them) and just really find any excuse to be on stage. The other thing I loved growing up, like any other Indian kid from the 90’s, was cricket! I’d watch any and every televised game. From Sri Lanka playing Kenya back in the day to some Village Premier League from Madhya Pradesh on DD. If the TV had cricket on it, I’d be sitting right opposite and watching it. So, yes, effectively stage and Cricket! Remember these, they form the very basis of what follows in the story.

I get to college and grind through the initial phase, while at it, stage happens again. I’m hosting events and after the first few, I’m virtually out of class every other week prepping to host the stage for some event or the other. So the host in me is satiated. Cricket meanwhile is on too! I’m keeping a tab on what’s happening in the game, sometimes bunking classes to watch matches.

In April 2015, all my friends at college (the 7 of us shared a 3 BHK) decide to go watch an IPL game in Ahmedabad. Rajasthan Royals are hosting the Kings XI Punjab. Now, while cricket was such a huge part of my life, I hadn’t really had a lot of opportunities to watch a game live from the ground. I was born and brought up in Lucknow, we didn’t host cricket in our city, Kanpur (the closest international stadium) would get the odd Test match but that was that. So my excitement was through the roof.

Now, this was where the sub-conscious will to do something that involved both stage and Cricket started taking shape. Seated in one of the stands at the stadium, I saw so much pre-match action happening at the ground, but what caught my eye was this light flashing on 2 suave gentlemen with mics in their hands. These fine men were Gaurav Kapur and Harsha Bhogle, who would go on to be such huge influences in my journey, for the time though, they were doing pre-match programming from the ground for Sony.

It was for the first time in my life when I was a spectator. Because hitherto, I’d always be in the middle of all the action one way or the other, but on April 21st, 2015 at Motera cricket ground, I was spectating. It just didn’t sit well. Not that spectating is not fun, I just found the other side more alluring. Meanwhile, I saw Harsha sir heading towards the stand where we were seated because that’s where the commentary boxes were, I’ve been a huge fan, a borderline devotee of him for years beyond count. When I saw him heading towards our stand, I just couldn’t contain the urge to meet him. So, I ran down multiple flights of stairs (because cheap seats are high up) and caught Harsha sir just outside the concourse, we spoke for a bit, the usual fan-meets-star chat, and while he left in a jiffy, maybe I had mustered enough courage to finally admit to what my sub-conscious had been building all these years. Of course, it took a lot of reading and researching post that, but right there on a Match day in Motera, was where the mind was made, the dream was born!

  1. What internships did you pursue when at law school and what influenced your decisions to do so?

Internships at Law School were aplenty, one for each semester, once I set my sights on being a Sports broadcaster though, their nature changed. I started by writing cricket pieces for  a website called Sportskeeda. On my legal internships, I’d be busy typing articles after article on cricket. The first 13 drafts that I wrote were all rejected by the editorial desk but the 14th one, on Virender Sehwag’s retirement, made the cut. In fact it went viral and before I knew it, it’d garnered 22k shares in under 12 hours (last year I had the privilege of meeting Viru sir and he said he’d read that piece too, yay!)

So after that piece, Sportskeeda offered me to write more often via a writers’ program they had for freelancers, I knew they did videos too, I asked if they were looking for an intern there too. And they were! I wrote to their then Video team lead, Akash Iyer, and he was happy to have me as an intern for IPL 2016.

Sportskeeda became my elementary school and Akash my first teacher. Everything that I know today about videos and my ability to grasp whatever’s new, is because I learnt from Akash. At Sportskeeda I’d produce small video packages, also host Facebook LIVE sessions before and after every IPL game that year, in addition to which, I’d go on the streets of Bangalore for RCB fan videos.

The first time I ever sat in front of the camera, I froze, this was nothing like stage! You had no humans giving continuous feedback to your communication. It was just a black camera with a red blinking light on top of it! My first ever stint in front of the camera was such a disaster that it convinced me that I didn’t belong. And that’s why I’ll forever be indebted to Akash because despite seeing me try and fail so many times at that internship, he kept giving me opportunities until one day that red light became my feedback.

The SK internship was also where I met Gaurav Kapur for the first time, I’d emailed him about my background asking for an internship at Extraa Innings (the Sony wraparound show for IPL). He was kind enough to reply to it, and after multiple failed attempts at a meeting, I finally got to meet him sometime towards the end of IPL 2016 in Bangalore. I showed him all the work I’d done at Sportskeeda and not only did he patiently watch all of it, he told me what he felt about it.

Now here’s a thing, he’s Gaurav Kapur, perhaps the biggest face of Cricket broadcast, the King of live TV! He doesn’t need to sit there watch a 20 year-old intern’s work and give feedback. Yet he did, we spoke for an entire hour and while leaving for the game, he said he might have something for me at his company Oaktree Creative.

And the kind soul that he is, he indeed did. I interned in the next break at his company and worked largely on the initial production of  now very successful properties Breakfast With Champions and India Plays. But this wasn’t going to be my only stint at Oaktree, I interned with them for IPL 2017 at the Mumbai Indians too where Oaktree was responsible for making digital content for the Mumbai Indians’ social channels – MITV.

This was an opportunity of a lifetime, I was working with the biggest cricket franchise in the world, living in the same hotel as them, watching each game from Hospitality invitation-only boxes, this was life straight out of a dream! Save only for it wasn’t, working on digital content in a tournament as hectic as the IPL and for a team as big as MI was demanding. We worked in a team of 3 and shifts that would start at any time between 6AM to 8 AM on a day and end at around 12:30 AM – 1:00 AM on good days, on bad days, it’d stretch further. As an intern, I was doing everything, from setting up cameras to mic-ing up cricketers to writing scripts for previews and interviewing Rohit Sharma (yaaass!!)!

MITV was my initiation into the ‘Big Boys’ Club’ as they say, albeit at the lowest level, but it gave me a taste of what the demands of this industry were and just how hard I had to work. There were bad days, I’d feel like I shouldn’t be doing this, I should be hosting content! Why should I set up the tripod? But in hindsight, each day at MITV was like learning the nuances of video production at a Media school. This was my education, with which came top-tier privileges… and I was getting paid for it! Why would anybody complain about it!

While we’re at it, I must mention that Cricbuzz wouldn’t have hired me and Aastha and SCC wouldn’t have interviewed me had Gaurav Kapur ignored a desperate 20 year-old’s SOS email in 2016! He literally put me on the rocket ship to dream world and I shall always always be in his debt for that.

  1. How does it feel to be working at Cricbuzz, tell us a bit about your role at Cricbuzz. How did Cricbuzz work out?

Post MITV I didn’t really have a plan, I was enjoying my last year at college without thinking much about what lay ahead, I knew I didn’t want to be a lawyer anymore so that was shelved, but also where was the next opportunity going to come from? I had no clue. I was, meanwhile, doing small social media videos on Cricket every now and then, but that was all for fun.

Then in 2017, the day after Diwali, I get a Facebook message from Ajith Ramamurthy, the then Head of Video Content and Business at Cricbuzz and he asked me if I’d be willing to join Cricbuzz as an anchor? I don’t think that statement needed a question mark! Because in my head, it wasn’t a question! The World’s biggest cricket app wanted me to be a part of their video product! But of course because the stakes were that high, they weren’t just going to hire me like that. I had to send an audition video. Which I did, and they happened to like it. And that was that!

The feeling of working at Cricbuzz is surreal, I mean it has now been almost a year-and-a-half and sometimes I take what I do for granted, only to have moments that put me right back in my place! We have a fantastic team of content creators who revel in each others’ successes and I think that’s what makes this place special. The guy on your next desk genuinely wants you to do well! That’s rare!

My designation is Anchor and Video Producer, and the role really is as simple as that. I write, produce and host videos day in and day out. Have you watched the latest episode of our weekly, Buzz This Week? (Shameless plug). Life has indeed become Stage + Cricket!!

  1. What role did Institute of Law Nirma University play in shaping, honing your skills?

ILNU’s role has been monumental, it’s like it gave me an opportunity to prepare for my audition tape every week when I was asked to emcee an event. The faculty and especially our Director, Prof. (Dr.) Poorvi Pokhariyal was so understanding of what my pursuits were and where I wanted to go!

  1. Tell us about your workplace and what a typical workday in your life looks like?

There are no ‘typical’ days at Cricbuzz! One week we’re covering the series in New Zealand and hence, the shift starts at 4 AM in the morning, the next week, India’s playing a T20 in India so the shift starts at 6 PM in the evening. The nature of this sport and given how much of it is happening each week, it’s hard to describe what a typical day is like. But it involves lots of cricket watching, then creative discussions and writing of scripts, crunching numbers etc. But I think the real joy is in watching your idea take the shape of an actual video! Nothing beats that feeling! And that’s where my qualm with this industry also lies. There are just so many people who work behind making a show. There are editors who polish the show, GFX artists who embellish it with some stunning work, the director who ensures that the light, the camera focus the audio levels are all just perfect and yet, there’s not enough recognition for so many of them.

SO the next time you watch any video, just try and be that extra vigilant about how seamlessly the graphics flow, how easily the transitions happen and how good the music is. These people here create magic without which an anchor is just another face blurting out some lines.

  1. What according to you is the scope for lawyers in the sports journalism arena? Do you feel like your training as a lawyer has helped you in any way? Share a few suggestions for students interested in the field.

Journalism of any sort is much like the law, right? Your main job either involves writing or speaking or in some cases both. You’ve got to be succinct, sharp with your observations and be creative when need be. My time at Law School helped me immensely! As I mentioned earlier, the stage was like rehearsals for my audition.

I wrote for the CLEA ECL Summer School in 2016 and got a paper published while also being one of the speakers of the team that won the 9th BR Sawhney Moot Court competition in 2016. So, in effect, I was doing the writing and talking part way before I ended up doing it for money. But why I mentioned those two things here is also because I’d love for aspirants to know a couple of things as clearly as they can.

First, never leave room for regret, I decided to be a sports journalist and yet wrote a research paper and won a Moot Court competition because I wanted to explore it all. I didn’t want myself questioning my choice of becoming a Sports Journalist while I could’ve been a lawyer. It was only after all my pursuits towards being a Lawyer failed to excite me, that I went ahead and immersed myself fully into Sports Broadcast Journalism

Second, passion can be overrated and misleading. Also, passion may drive you but might not always end up dropping you where you want to go. I speak to so many people who want to be sports journalists, and when asked why, their answer is largely this 7-letter word – Passion. Passion is a very human emotion and sports draws that out in so many people across the globe. Evaluate yourself outside of the realm of passion. See if you want the life of a journalist, the pay of a journalist (which is a fraction of your lawyer friends’, at least initially) and whether or not you’ve left any room for regret. When you’ve done that analysis, and you’re still convinced, jump aboard the wagon of the best profession in the world!

As far as opportunities go, the internet has made it such an expansive field that you may be a Volleyball fan and if you have the journalistic inclinations in you, there’ll be a job for you not only abroad but within India.

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