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Shah Rukh Khan
Kolkata Knight Riders IPL franchise owner Shah Rukh on Monday admitted he is more worried about the comfort factor for spectators in Kolkata rather than sale of tickets.
Kolkata-based newspaper Anand Bazaar Patrika, had quoted Shah Rukh Khan [Images] as saying he was "quite disappointed" at the poor audience response.
However, the Bollywood star dismissed the report saying: "It is miswritten how you read it in the papers."
Shah Rukh said he is not worried about the sale of tickets, but about how to provide a memorable experience for spectators who purchased the tickets.
"I am not worried about the money part; I only want spectators to be comfortable and happy. There are a lot of unknown things I am worried about, but, hopefully, when the first match happens in Kolkata, it will be a hit," said Shah Rukh from his Mumbai residence Mannat.
"I am bogged down. I hope I can run it smoothly. I wish I had money to do the whole stadium and get everything right for the spectators. I will make it look the best I can. I am worried, but that is not my job. If ten people who have a ticket but could not get entry I would be worried about that," he added.
The Indian Premier League kicks-off on April 18 in Bangalore with the Kolkata Knight Riders taking on Bangalore Royal Challengers.
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"The first day, when I heard this, I was really surprised that only 237 tickets had been sold at the counter," Khan had told the Kolkata paper.
However, he seemed a bit more assured when quizzed about the same in Mumbai. He said his management team has assured him that the ticket sales would gradually pick up as the tournament begins.
"It's a new venture, so I don't know too much about it. I am not involved with the administration part, and even in my own company I am not involved with administration. That is why I was a bit worried. But the people who are dealing with it told me there is a specific trend for cricket ticket sales and this is how it happens. Cricket ticket sales are different from movie ticket sales. There are a lot of things which I don't really understand [about the IPL]. I think it will take me around 2-3 years to understand it fully," he said.
Khan further added that running a cricket team is a new venture for him and it will take him time to get used to the finer points.
"It is a new venture, the Kolkata Knight Riders; so it has been stressful for the last three months. This is a new venture for me. If it had been a film, it would have been a houseful for sure," he quipped.
Khan assured Kolkata's cricket fans that the ticket rates are the lowest possible and expressed hope that it would inspire them to come to the Eden Gardens.
"The ticket rates are the cheapest possible so that everyone can come and watch the match. The cheapest ticket is Rs.150 for students and I think if I make it anymore cheaper it will be paying people to come and watch the match. The rates are the cheapest possible in terms of breaking even including the cost of running the stadium everyday," he said.
Khan hopes the West Bengal government relents and waives the entertainment tax, so that Bollywood stars can provide additional entertainment during the cricket matches.
"The entertainment tax hopefully will be waived. The entertainment will be for about 10 minutes, so it won't be a big loss or gain. I can get some actors to sing and dance; it will make it more affordable," he said.
But he believes that only good performances by his team can attract the fans to the stadium. Kolkata, led by Sourav Ganguly [Images], boast of some top class performers in Australian captain Ricky Ponting [Images], India's pace ace Ishant Sharma and West Indies [Images] opener Chris Gayle, to name a few.
"I can do the entertainment part. I hope the cricket part will also bring in the people. There is a lot of entertainment portion and that I will handle, but other than that I think the cricket will have to be attractive -- that will bring in the tickets, sell the tickets. I can sell tickets of films, but cricket will have to sell tickets for cricket," he said.
Khan revealed that any player from his team who wins a man-of-the-match award during the tournament will be given a helmet made of gold, weighing seven kgs.
"We have a golden helmet that will be given to the man of the match; it is of real gold and weighs seven kgs. I think we need the Great Khali [WWE wrestler] for it," he joked.
The veteran actor is hoping all major issues that crop up along the way will be resolved soon.
"There are lot of issues and a lot of them have not cropped up yet. I think once we play the first match then we will know where we stand. Maybe, things will smoothen out.
"This is just the start; this is new, so people will come to see something new. I am sure there will be lot of mistakes and issues but we can iron it out. But, at the same time, whatever you start there will be issues initially; passion is important," he said.
Asked what is his target, he replied: "My dream of IPL is to win the championship!"
Photograph: Pradeep Bandekar
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