SHIVAMOGGA: Ou love stories, but reading them is a chore. But if someone were to read them out to you loud and clear, filled with life, expression and emotion, it would be a fun exercise. With this simple principle, audio books have evolved as the go-to storytelling tool for the generation on the go. Meanwhile, a Malnad man’s mission to turn Kannada favourites – stories, poems and more – into audio books to be savoured from one’s mobile phone is a fascinating tale in itself.
Chinmaya M Rao, who hails from Honagodu village of Sagar taluk, Shivamogga district, founded Kannada Times, which is spearheading this unique idea. During the lockdown with everything closed, Chinmay, who was at his village, had a brainstorm of sorts when he felt if popular and great works in Kannada could be converted into audiobooks, they would appeal to a wider audience, including a younger one, in turn improving their overall affinity towards books and literature.
“The present generation clings on to headphones to listen to music from mobile phones. Therefore, I thought, ‘if I could offer them literature and stories in the form of audiobooks, would it interest them’,” says Chinmaya.As part of his plan of putting ‘words to action’, Kannada literature, stories from mythology, tales for children, prose, novels, poems, religious discourses and even chintanas began to be converted into audiobooks by the Kannada Times Society. In total, 50 books have been converted into their audio versions, thus converting readers into listeners.
Sharing his initiative with TNSE, he reflects that while many young writers aspire to get their writings printed as books, publishers hesitate to assist them, since reading as a habit is on the decline among people, especially the youth and children. “Many are trying hard to build a culture of reading. They are also trying to explore different means that have some novelty in them. With all these realities, we made an effort to propagate knowledge to people in the form of audiobooks,” he adds.
The presentation of books in their audio format also aids various sections of the society. While on one hand, it kills the need to carry any books while getting around, on the other, it enables the unlettered also to tune into stories with their cell phones in hand. “It is the presenter who presents the books in their voice and many a times, the structured sentences will be presented in a colloquial manner that holds the listeners’ attention. Such minor alterations (without changing the meaning), are made for the audio format,” he says.
Meanwhile, it ought to be noted that recording a reading or rendition for an audiobook isn’t as easy as it sounds. Like in every case, Kannada Times too has paid attention to the quality, tone and clarity of the voiceovers, laying special emphasis on good pronunciation and enunciation. “We took the help of professional voice lenders like Usha Natesh Kasaravalli, who has read stories for children; Jeevottama H Rao, who presented a series of stories on chintana religious discourse; retired professor S C Gowrishankar also offered religious discourses and other poems, which were all part of these audiobooks. Anchored by Sandhya Bhat of Tirthahalli, Alpine School students Simran, Sanjay and Sejal have rendered their voice for these audiobooks too,” Chintan says.
Apart from curating audiobooks in recent times, Chinmaya M Rao is also a Carnatic vocalist and music composer, who has lent his voice for many films, brought out several music albums, and also composed music for some Kannada films. He has also scored music for one of the songs sung by popular singer Hariharan.
Accessing the audiobooks
Those who wish to listen to these audiobooks can subscribe to the Kannada Times channel for free on YouTube. For more updates visit FB page: facebook.com/kannada times audio books, and also follow them on Twittr @k t audio books