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Stoic to showman: SRK wins and sings for Preity

Waiting to exhale. That was Shah Rukh Khan throughout the IPL final at Bangalore’s Chinnaswamy Stadium on Sunday night.

And when the moment came, a low full toss deftly despatched over point by an unlikely hero, the dam of emotions burst. Shah Rukh Khan, arms in the air, let out a whoop and hugged daughter Suhana.

Exit, stoic team owner. Enter, showman.

“A lot of people ask me to behave like a gentleman, but Sameer (Kochhar), you made me do this!” Shah Rukh declared after a trademark somersault at the request of the SET Max anchor after the presentation ceremony.

“We (KKR) don’t have big names. We are not flashy but we go and do the job,” SRK said, flashing that winner-takes-all look that he had kept locked for 40 overs.

In his mindspace, it wasn’t just enough for the Kolkata Knight Riders to be more businesslike and less flashy than Preity Zinta’s King’s XI Punjab on the big day. SRK himself chose to be so uncharacteristically understated that there were times when the television cameras had little to show when they focused on him.

Shah Rukh’s nervousness ahead of the KKR’s second appearance in an IPL final in three years had been apparent from a series of tweets starting around midnight on Saturday. “Tomorrow is Bengaluru,” he had tweeted from the sets of Farah Khan’s Happy New Year, going on to reveal that he had spent his early years in Bangalore.

At the stadium, Shah Rukh was the opposite of the animated, emotional Preity Zinta screaming “Punjaab Punjaab” every time her team Kings XI Punjab threatened to run away with the match.

“I wish she (Preity Zinta) wins. She discusses teams with me…tonight we got lucky,” he would say later.

When Gautam Gambhir was dismissed in the seventh over chasing a target of 200, Shah Rukh had a blank look. Preity clapped, high-fived and used an imaginary hand fan to drive away the nervousness but SRK remained rooted to his seat and almost meditative.

Even the collective chant of 81,550 people at a six being hit, a wicket being taken or a run saved failed to bring Shah Rukh out of his shell. Occasionally, he would turn to his daughter, biting her nails, and whisper something. He could well have been telling her: “We will win if we hold our nerves.”

In the penultimate over, when Suryakumar Yadav got out with 13 runs still needed, a trace of irritation flashed across his face. Almost as if he were telling the young player: “What was the need for this?”

“Shah Rukh Khan has tasted success, Preity Zinta hasn’t,” commentator Simon Doull quipped.

Earlier, when the Knights were 109 for 2 in the 12th over and Kings XI captain George Bailey dropped a difficult catch offered by Manish Pandey, Shah Rukh allowed himself the liberty of a wry smile.

As Manish continued playing the innings of his life, King Khan slipped back to Zen mode.

Unlike Preity, whose face was the index of which way the match was swinging at a point of time, SRK wouldn’t let anything slip past his demeanour. No shaking his head at a dismissal or a close shave, and seldom more than a clap when a Knight hit a six or a four.

The only time before Manish’s half century that Shah Rukh had stood up and clapped was when Wriddhiman Saha had raced to a century, making a KKR victory look difficult, if not improbable.

Calcuttan Yasser Haidar, who watched the match seated a few feet away from where Shah Rukh was, said the Bolly star may not have been his usual ebullient self but he didn’t look despondent even when the going got tougher for KKR.

“I told him at the break that we will win and he said, ‘Inshallah we will win’!” Yasser said. “But Suhana was biting her nails through most of the KKR innings!”

Once victory had been achieved, SRK was back to playing entertainer and philosopher.

“I am going to tell all people younger than me: believe in yourself. If you believe in yourself, things come true,” he said.

And how did he plan to celebrate the victory?

“This (the celebrations) is not going to stop. This will start in Bengaluru. Then it will go to Mumbai, then to Calcutta, then to Delhi.... One of my sons is in London, the wife and daughter they are going to Paris and the little one is in Delhi. I will have to go everywhere and celebrate.”

For Preity, his lady love in several Bolly blockbusters, Shah Rukh had words of commiseration and a song.

“I am wearing the jersey of the one person I love the most in the IPL (showing the Kings XI Punjab jersey). That’s Preity,” SRK said before crooning Jaanam dekh lo mit gayi duriya from Veer-Zaara, cross-border love story starring the dimpled duo.