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Before we begin the 24-edition series, I wanted to introduce Kalpanthu to the uninitiated. We are a social media platform that aims to highlight the often untold stories of Indian football.
The “experiment”, which started in May 2019 by publishing two videos – the interview of Simon Sundararaj and a documentary on football in North Chennai titled “Vyasarpadi: Chennai’s mini Brazil” is now slowly becoming the go-to place for football enthusiasts.
The truth is, I decided to publish these videos on a YouTube channel because there were no takers for the story in mainstream media. Most spaces didn’t want a lengthy video or didn’t have a specific provision in their freelance plans to accommodate a film.
The interview eventually did get published on a Delhi-based platform, but I had to give it to them for free. And the sports channel that had promised to carry the Vyasarpadi documentary shut shop by the time the video was ready.
This isn’t a story that is unique to me. A lot of journalists and producers struggle to find platforms that are interested in hosting Indian football stories because there is no promise of hits/views. I really had just two options in front of me – either move on to another sport OR create my own space.
In its two years of existence, Kalpanthu has slowly but surely grown into a platform that has become that safe space for Indian football stories. I would be lying if I called it perfect or complete. Kalpanthu is far from it. There was a time when I even attempted to commercialise it by chasing views or adding click baits but it was like water on a cat’s fur – Kalpanthu kept trying to shake these ideas off.
I think I can safely vouch for the fact that Kalpanthu is loved by the few hundreds who follow because we tell stories that nobody else does. In a way that resonates. And that is because we promise to keep improving and learning from our lessons.
A Platform for All
It might sound extremely dramatized, but there was a moment (I swear) during the shoot of Patan’s Pride when I climbed onto an elevated portion of the ground to get a wide-angle shot of the football match.
And I remember thinking to myself, “I wonder if I will ever be able to convey to someone else what I am feeling at this moment.” It wasn’t euphoria, it wasn’t serendipitous. It is what we call a work high or a work coma. That tingling feeling you get when you are doing a piece of work that you really believe in.
And I really wanted to empower a set of journalists to feel the same. It was my privilege that got me to interior Gujarat – I could afford to spend money from my own pocket to chase a story without the guarantee of a publisher. But not a lot of journalists in the country can do that. Nor should they.
Vuvuzela is the actualization of that dream. A bid to empower the fantastic journalists in the country to go tell the story they have been craving to. With the money raised through subscription charges, we’ve managed to rope in some of the finest writers in the country. The desire is to make the newsletter a self-sustainable space for both experienced and budding storytellers to showcase football stories without any restrictions.
May our clan grow bigger. May independent media find a space to prosper during these turbulent times. And hopefully next year in May we will all get together in a big huddle and say, “Hey, let’s make this a fully-fledged magazine.”
PS: This mail does NOT count as a Vuvuzela edition. This was just a note to get you introduced to the channel. The cover image for this letter was illustrated by Mythri.
Also big shout outs to Urmila (who designed the new logos) and Nehal (who is the invisible force of Kalpanthu). We are also listing a few links (below) to documentaries that played a huge role in inspiring Kalpanthu.