'I had seen my father playing kabbaddi in Ganga Ki Saugandh. I was fascinated.'
'Somehow, that picture of Paa playing kabbaddi stayed.'
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 his passion for the game to the forefront once again.
"I remember when Charu Sharma (director, Kabbaddi Pro League) and Anand Mahindra (Co-founder, Kabbaddi Pro League) offered me the chance to own a kabbaddi team. My first question was, why me? Then I watched a game at their behest and was amazed at the dedicated audience rooting for these boys, who played like a dream," Abhishek looks back, as he chats with Subhash K Jha.
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 six years, I came to know that I couldn't have chosen better. We started with eight teams. Now we have 12."
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.
"I knew about kabbaddi from childhood, though I played football and basketball then. But I had seen my father playing kabbaddi in 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 credit to my wonderful players, who know they are 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."