BANGALORE: Audio books in English and other foreign languages have gained popularity over the past few years. Easily available for download, they allow one to listen to books amid other activities, when reading could be a hassle.
However, there aren’t too many choices when it comes to Kannada. With an aim to change this, a group of young professionals from the IT and finance sectors in the city are putting together Keli Katheya, a three-hour audio CD with six stories by greats in the world of Kannada literature–Purnachandra Tejaswi, Jayanth Kaikini, Ravi Belegere, Na D’Souza, Vasudhendra and Vikram Hatwaar–in the voices of popular Kannada theatre and film personalities–Nagabharana, Prakash Rai, Kishore, Suchendra Prasad, Rakshith Shetty and Vikram Hatwaar.
The team includes Mukund Setlur, Kiran Manjunath, Nithesh Kuntady, Satheesh Gowda, Roopa Laxmi, Harish Malya, Pramod Patagar and Manasa Bharadwaj.
Ahead of a press meet to launch the social media channels and the website for the project, Mukund, who works at one of the better known software companies in Bangalore, said, “In most countries where people have long commutes on a daily basis, there’s a prevalent audio book culture. Here, we don’t have one yet, not for Kannada literature at least. And for so many of today’s kids, the use of the language is limited to conversations with grandparents. We want to build the audio book culture for Kannada literature as well.”
Those who have read out the stories have done so free of cost, for the cause of promoting Kannada. “When Mukund approached me with the idea, even before he finished explaining it to me, I wanted to say, ‘Which story can I read?’ If it reaches people and they enjoy it, I’m happy,” said filmmaker T Nagabharana at the launch in press club on Wednesday.
“As a user of technology, I seek Kannada on technological platforms. This is a great experiment, whether for artistes like us, the audiences or the producers,” said singer-actor M D Pallavi. “Often, I think that our children don’t have access to the kind of educational technology that kids in the West do. Something like this could benefit children too.”
Film director B Suresh reflected that the stories will have greater power when heard through the voices of experienced artistes. “I’m curious to listen to how it sounds. And it’s suited to the present generation–the stories are written by new age writers, read by today’s theatre artistes in the language that today’s youngsters understand,” he further said.
On the message carried by the stories, he explained, “The prime message is to help people reconnect with Kannada. But the two stories by Na D’Souza that Pallavi has read out have a message–the kind of message that Little Red Riding Hood has.”
Mukund said that the sales proceeds of the CD will be used to support the education of government school children in the border areas of Karnataka. “We want to give copies to a few blind schools in the city as well,” he told City Express.
Keli Katheya, priced at `150, will be launched in August. To listen to audio clips of the stories or pre-order the CD, log on to www.kelikatheya.com.