Abhishek Bachchan loves kabaddi far more than in his capacity as a team owner. The documentary Sons Of The Soil: Jaipur Pink Panthers has brought Abhishek’s passion for the game to the forefront once again. His voice softens in mellow memories while recalling his association with his kabaddi team Jaipur Pink Panthers.
Recalls Abhishek, “I remember when Charu Sharma (the director of Kabaddi Pro League) and Anand Mahindra (Pro Kabaddi co-founder) offered me the chance to own a kabaddi team. My first question was, why me? I then watched a game on their behest and was amazed at the collective dedicated audience rooting for these boys who played like a dream.” ALSO READ:Read What Abhishek Bachchan Has To Say About His Team Jaipur Pink Panthers And Their Family After The Premiere Of Sons of The Soil
Abhishek was sold. “I was in, of course. I knew little about the game at that time. I remember at the auction I was literally just pointing at names in the auction brochure not knowing who the players were. I wondered if I had put together a good enough team. Over the next 6 years, I came to know I couldn’t have chosen better. We started with eight teams. Now we have twelve teams.”ALSO READ:Sons Of The Soil: Jaipur Pink Panthers Review: Not Just The Game, The Spirit Makes This Documentary Special That Showcases Abhishek Bachchan And His Boys
Abhishek still remembers his team’s first game. “It was on 26 June 2014 in Mumbai. My team played against Ronnie Screwvala’s team. I had invited all my closest friends from the film industry including my wife and parents. Also, the entire cast of Happy New Year, Farah Khan’s film which I was shooting for back then, had also shown up in support. The next day the papers carried photographs of Paa with Shah Rukh and Aamir. It did create curiosity among people about kabaddi, I’ve to admit. So yes, a known face helming a kabaddi team does help initially. But finally, it’s the team’s performance which brings the spectators in.”
Abhishek feels kabaddi was never given its due. “It has always been a popular sport, widely watched and appreciated. But never acknowledged as a sport to be honoured. Me? I knew about kabaddi from childhood, though I played football and basketball as a child. But I had seen my father playing kabaddi in a film called Ganga Ki Saugandh. I was fascinated. Somehow that picture of Paa playing kabaddi stayed. Later I lost touch with the game. Today I can proudly say I am completely into kabaddi. I give all credit to my wonderful players who know they are very close to my heart. They can call anytime for anything.”
Abhishek has big dreams for his teams. “I want Kabaddi to go to the Olympics. So far it has been ineligible due to a technicality. But we’re working towards it. God willing it will happen. Kabaddi will be the only indigenous game from India to make it to the Olympics.”
Image source: Instagram/bachchan
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