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Abhishek Bachchan: “I Come Close To Kabbaddi By Learning On The Job”



Abhishek Bachchan  loves  kabbaddi far  more than in his capacity of 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 Kabbaddi Pro League)  and  Anand Mahindra (Pro Kabbaddi co-founder)  offered me the  chance  to own a kabbaddi 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.”

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.”

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  photograph of Paa with Shah Rukh and Aamir. It did create a curiosity among people  about kabbaddi, I’ve to admit. So  yes, a known  face  helming a  kabbaddi team does help initially. But finally it’s the team’s performance  which brings the spectators  in.”

Abhishek feels kabbaddi 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 kabbaddi from childhood,  though I played football and basketball as a child.  But I had seen my father  playing  kabbaddi in  a film called Ganga Ki Saugandh. I  was  fascinated.  Somehow  that picture  of Paa playing kabbaddi stayed.Later  I lost  touch with the  game. Today I can proudly say I am completely into kabbaddi . 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 kabbaddi 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.Kabbaddi will the  be the only indigenous game from  India to make  it to the Olympics.”

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