By Subhash K. Jha,
The IPL also has Shah Rukh Khan coming in. How does it feel to have him as a competitor in cricket?
I've always looked up to Shah Rukh. When I did my first film Dil Se with him, he was already a huge star. To me it's a matter of great honor to stand on the same platform as him. We're all working very hard on the IPL. Ours is the youngest team among all the IPL owners. Let's be positive about it. Initially, it's very important for the IPL team to work in totality.
Which members of the IPL have you interacted with?
You mean besides Shah Rukh? Vijay Mallya. He's a very good friend, and a really cool person to know. As for the cricketers, they're all in Australia now.
How cricket savvy have you become?
Right now, I am more IPL savvy. We are working on the format and the modalities constantly. But yes, I am trying to get as cricket savvy as possible. On Tuesday, I was watching the match at Australia. I was so pleased to see Yuvraj perform so well. He's rocking. And yeah, I'm reading the sports sections more now. Rome wasn't built in a day. And my interest in cricket will take time. We just did a trip to Mohali. The stadium there is fantastic. Mr. Bindra of the Punjab Cricket Board has been very accommodating.
Are you happy with your new work schedule?
I'm loving every minute of it. I have always had a lot of energy. Therefore, I am now using it in the right way.
Are you growing beyond cinema?
I certainly am. But my first love will always be acting. Cricket will have to take second place. When I'm in a shot nothing else matters. When I'm watching Yuvraj bat I'm fully there. But I'm in control during my shot, not Yuvraj's shot. All I can do is motivate the cricketers. I do have various sides to me. And now I'm getting a chance to explore things that are helping me grow as a human being. I am just so thankful to get these opportunities. I always wanted to make a positive impact.
Are you proud to be so active in a game that's dominated by men?
Men talk about equal opportunities for women. But when it comes to the crunch hardly anyone comes forward to let women rub shoulders with them. I just want to say, the three guys who exemplify true feminism are my IPL colleagues Ness Wadia, Karan Paul and Mohit Burman. These three men have supported me wholeheartedly and without being patronizing. They're truly the modern men of the world.
Having the love of your life by your side surely helps?
I joke with Ness and say you're the wing beneath my wings . When I suddenly burst into a loud exuberant rendering of 'Wind Beneath My Wings' Ness looks at me as if I've gone crazy.
Does Ness enjoy being called the wind beneath your wings?
He is that! To give me this kind of support and provide me with equal opportunities as his male colleagues. It's fantastic. Very few people will do that.
What do you expect the outcome of the IPL auction to be?
It's an open auction. All of us have to be on our toes. It isn't going to be easy. To be honest I've absolutely no idea what will happen. I've giant-sized butterflies in my stomach. I'm looking forward to forming our teams and going ahead full-steam. There's a lot of work ahead. I'm an eager student of cricket. Fortunately, I've so many knowledgeable people around me. I'm just happy listening.
That must be tough for someone as talkative as you?
The toughest thing for me has been to sit in one place for an hour. When I'm on a film set I'm all over the place. But at a board meeting I better be still. This is a whole new world for me. And I've plunged into it headlong.
Did you ever feel you might just end up as the glamour prop in the IPL?
I always wanted to avoid that. But in any sphere of activity people treat you the way you want. I've been on-board in the IPL full-on attending all the conferences. At every meeting I'm the first one in, the last one out. Everyone has got the message that I'm interested and passionate about the IPL. That I'm not in it just as a token representative. I'm fully inducted into it. Let's see where it goes.
Any downside to the auction?
I felt bad that we couldn't get Harbhajan Singh on board, he being from Chandigarh to have him on board would've been nice. But Mumbai went hard for him, and so did we. But…at least the good thing is, he got paid really well. A team is never made of one person. We had our budgets, and we had to stick to it. We wanted a team that was heavy with Indians. A lot of mathematics went into the game. Overall, I think we got a well-balanced team. And in the team format no individual wins or loses. That's the best part of it.
Did your budget afford you the players you wanted?
I think the teams that didn't have to bid for icon players had more flexible budgets. Chennai, Hyderabad and Jaipur didn't have icon players.
Do you think it's important for your team to have an icon player?
We love our icon player Yuvraj. He's one of the best 20-20 players in the world. He makes a helluva difference to our team's morale. The good thing is, we're the youngest team in the IPL.