The Royal Concoction

Imagine if a die-hard, obsessive cricket fan were to understand the mystery connection between the game he reveres & film world he so loathes…


When a dashing M A K Pataudi would walk into the lush green cricketing arena, it would evoke shock, spontaneous whistling & love similar to how a Rajesh Khanna alighting down from his car on the Marine drive or a Dev Anand shooting at a suburb location would stir hysteria in their fans. There is a distinctive appeal to men in uniform, be it men guarding our borders or people wielding willows & making red cherries dance in the air. While the former stay anonymous due to the nature of their job, sportsmen have held their audiences captive most of the time on television, during live matches and championships & living in the neighbourhood. They have always had their own charm, a charisma that they carry with them along with their good looks & beautiful game  Film stars do not have to wear a uniform though, but their appeal, fan following & aura is no less than what a famous cricketer commands.

Naturally then a relationship resulting in marital alliances, business associations, mutual admiration clubs, joint advertising campaigns & common cause alliances is no surprise between the two screen scorchers, the attractive pairing, the fatal fable called Bollywood & Cricket. We all love Cricket. For Indians, cricket is like religion that whips up unparalleled frenzy & passion bordering on fanaticism. These sporting heroes & screen idols have captured our imagination for decades now & they continue to enthral their audiences worldwide. But as we move on with changing time & situations, neither cricket nor films have retained that old world charm, character, appeal & purity. Both have, speaking purely from the point of view of their real essence & objective, dare I say, got vandalised, badgered & tinkered with an avoidable stain that has taken much of their gains & gloss.

So while Cricket has its big bête noire in the form of IPL & T20s, films have got pyro-techniques, robotics, over the top stories & make believe sets as theirs. Be that as it may, let us dwell on the concoction the two have warmed up to in recent times & the clubs & allegiances that have got stitched up in the process.

With the flourishing of the Indian Premier league, even the nondescript cricket players have had the spotlight turned on them in almost every outing, every auction.  No wonder the instant focus, charm & off- the shelf glamour combined together big moolah all make for a winning combination that commands the collective audiences of both the cricketing & the movie world. Who cares whether the old time, radio commentary hooked, idolising & worshipping fan wanted this type of a radical transgression in the gentlemen in whites game. Some would argue that there couldn’t have been a bigger & better royal connection between the two. Add to it the growing rush of sponsors from the art, media, corporate, real estate & the tech industry & you have all the trappings of a spicy grand tamasha, a spectacle round the corner all the time.

Not only have film stars owned teams like Shah Rukh & Juhi Chawla’s KKR, Preity Zinta Kings XI Punjab, Shilpa Shetty Kudra Rajasthan Royals, you have most of others either rooting for their Bollywood friends or being a part of the advertising campaigns involving the game & its promotion. All in all a happy go lucky cozy club & its fan boys & girls, dancing in the aisles & drinking their sorrows away after each outing.

While it is a known fact that Shah Rukh Khan himself was a sports freak during his college days, he would play cricket, football and hockey & was good at all three sports. It was no wonder then that he would want to associate himself with any of these arenas as & when the opportunity presented itself. Knowing the sport yourself & having the stomach to seize upon an opportunity to make your awareness count must have certainly helped him get into this newest business on the horizon. That is how KKR must have happened along with Juhi & Jay Mehta who were his partners in Red Chillies entertainment as well.

You could thus see a Hrithik Roshan, a supporter of Mumbai Indians, featuring in a promotional video campaign for the franchise with their motto ‘Duniya Hila Denge Hum’. Even when grapevine would have us believe that Katrina Kaif and Deepika Padukone do not get along well in normal times, you would have seen them together supporting the Royal Challengers Bangalore & Vijay Mallya’s team in early days. It is only after Deepika fell out with Siddharth Mallya, that she has stopped her fan support for the franchisee.

The original Khiladi, Akshay Kumar has been a brand ambassador of the Delhi daredevils team for some time, as has he lent his support to others too during their respective team games. Preity Zinta (KXIP), the soldier girl may not have won any of the championships thus far but she has been a steadfast support to her team with the dimple girl’s ‘jadoo ki jhappi’ becoming more famous than her team. Shilpa Shetty (RR), the Baazigar female lead has been its big strength & she can be seen watching almost all the games involving her team. Despite the controversies mid-way, she has maintained her calm & composure & been there for her team at all times.

Anu Malik can be seen at almost all MI matches, wearing a certain type of a T-Shirt that he believes brings the team good luck, while waving & shouting hysterically during the ongoing matches.  Same is true of Abhishek Bachchan (MI), who has always cheered for his favourite franchise, Mumbai Indians, every time they went on the field. His enthusiasm and interest for the game is evident. Vindu Dara Singh is another of the Bollywood, TV Cricketing triumvirate, whose name had cropped up in the IPL spot-fixing case. One could see him alongside Sakshi, wife of Chennai Super Kings (CSK) MS Dhoni watching matches & cheering for the team. He had even admitted being in touch with some players including Manpreet Gony & also with Meiyappa, the CEO of CSK franchise.

The first lady of cricket, queen Anushka Sharma (RCB), has herself been an ardent fan of the franchisee & you could now well imagine why? You could often see her during the matches cheering for her love Virat & her unfailing support & devotion lead to her tying the knot wither man finally. Well as long as fans are enjoying & cheering, who are we to judge?