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Punekars reinventing storytelling through audiobooks, one voice at a time

Marathi audiobooks have slowly started to gain popularity among Punekars for its language, diction and professional approach

pune Updated: Jun 10, 2018 16:40 IST
Anjali Shetty
Anjali Shetty
Hindustan Times, Pune
Pune,storytelling,audiobooks
Sameer Dhamangaonkar, co-founder of Snovel, a company that sells audio books, points out that audio books in Marathi are a fantastic opportunity to relive the art of storytelling in the information age. He said, “The audio books industry in Marathi does not exist today. There are hardly any dedicated audio book production houses and limited technical platforms for the medium. This is a major reason for us to venture into audio books in Marathi.”(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

For compere and artist Sudhir Gadgil, Marathi audiobooks have always been a medium to introduce veteran and celebrated authors to the new generation. Gadgil admits to have benefitted the most from these audiobooks and said, “I learnt the tricks of compering, use of language, professionalism and so much more from audiobooks. I have passed on my collection of audiobooks to my family. The idea is to inculcate the habit of listening to it. It is one of the most convenient mediums to ‘read’ as all you have to do is pay attention.”

Umesh Kamat, an actor, has also lent his voice for an audio book, titled Drushtimitra buddy, which is the story of a man and a dog. (Rahul Raut/HT PHOTO)

The celebrity compere added that audiobooks have the potential to become a teaching tool for the new generation. “Authors such as Gajānan Digambar Mādguḷkar and Pu La Deshpande can be introduced the next generation through audio books. Not everyone is interested in reading and audiobooks help reach this audience. You can even play it in the car while travelling and is a very convenient way to access Marathi literature. I have actually seen this trend in places abroad, where families play Marathi audiobooks for their children in their cars,” added Gadgil.

Umesh Kamat, an actor, has also lent his voice for an audio book, titled Drushtimitra buddy, which is the story of a man and a dog.

“I think Marathi audiobooks have the potential to be explored and experimented with. I took up the assignment because I loved the script and found it extremely touching. I wanted to give it a shot. The process was tough and I tried my best. It was challenging as I had to work only with my voice. It was an interesting experiment,” said Umesh.

Reinventing storytelling

Sameer Dhamangaonkar, co-founder of Snovel, a company that sells audio books, points out that audio books in Marathi are a fantastic opportunity to relive the art of storytelling in the information age.

He said, “The audio books industry in Marathi does not exist today. There are hardly any dedicated audio book production houses and limited technical platforms for the medium. This is a major reason for us to venture into audio books in Marathi.”

People today do not have time to read. It is what convinced, Jeevan Vaishampayan founder of realizations media private limited, to come up audiobooks to give people something to listen to when they’re commuting, exercising or during their leisurely hours.

Jeevan said, “We started this initiative back in 2009. When we started promoting our audiobooks in 2010, there was no one in the Marathi audiobooks industry. We first produced commercial audiobooks with the voices of Marathi celebrities.”

Finding eager listeners

Vaishampayan believes that the medium has an audience throughout Maharashtra. “We have exhibited our audiobooks in Pune, Mumbai, Thane, Latur and many other parts of Maharashtra. We even had a small outlet in Connecticut, United States of America, in 2011. So, we have demand from outside India as well,” said Vaishampayan.

The audio books in Marathi have been gaining popularity since 2012, according to Dhamangaokar.“We have global listeners for Snovel audio books from more than 15 countries across the globe. Some of the popular ones are Rarang Dhang, Vanvas, Preshit, Shitu, Samudra and Kumauche Narabhakshak,” he said.

However, Rasika Ramesh Rathiwadekar, owner of Akshardhara book store, does not see audiobooks making a large impact. “We used to sell audiobooks at the store but have discontinued it. It was not being picked up by customers and there was not too much interest in the medium. I have not seen a demand for Marathi audiobooks in the past few years,” said Rathiwadekar.

Money matters

Audiobooks, when sold on CDs, usually cost around ₹180 to ₹200, according to Dhamangaokar.

“The global pricing model for audiobooks is a subscription-based model because of huge volumes (library model). However, given the limited volume for Marathi audiobooks as compared to global volumes, we operate under a unit price based model. The price in India for an audiobook ranges from ₹ 50 to ₹500, but can even go up to ₹800,” said Dhamangaokar.

First Published: Jun 10, 2018 16:40 IST