SRK at Chinnaswamy during Sunday’s KKR match. (Santosh Ghosh)
The KKR box at Bangalore’s Chinnaswamy Stadium was so quiet for most of the IPL final on Sunday night that it could have been mistaken for that of a team about to lose, according to insiders.
Minister Aroop Biswas, self-proclaimed “lucky mascot” for the Knights and one of the 130-odd guests in the box, wore the team jersey but had to keep his cheerleading mission in check after seeing the host request others not to jump the gun.
“When (Yusuf) Pathan hit (Lakshmipathy) Balaji for two sixes in the 13th over, some of the boys started chanting ‘Pathan…Pathan’ and dancing in their seats. Shah Rukh immediately turned back and asked them to sit down and stay calm. He said it was too early to celebrate,” Mamata Banerjee’s official representative in the KKR box said.
Pathan got out in the next over trying to hit another six and Shah Rukh became even more tense, barring everyone from going anywhere or changing their seats. “He would later tell us that he does not have superstitions. It’s just that he didn’t want to take a chance on Sunday,” minister Biswas said.
For the Trinamul leader, watching the 2014 final at the Chinnaswamy Stadium was in stark contrast to his visits to the Eden Gardens. “At Eden, we generally do everything to pump up the team. I have even seen SRK cheering for the team at Eden Gardens but on Sunday he was very different. He stayed calm and asked us to do the same,” Biswas said.
Entrepreneur Ratul Sood, who watched the first half of the match from King Khan’s lair and the KKR innings from the Kings XI Punjab box, said the Bollywood star was “intense” in his concentration and “tense” about the result.
“But I also feel that he is the kind of guy who doesn’t take pressure too much,” said the owner of Burlingtons’.
So why did he switch camps halfway through the match? “My support had to be for KKR. I was supporting KKR throughout. I had tickets to both the boxes. Besides, Karan Paul (stakeholder in Kings XI Punjab) is a dear friend,” Sood said.
As the cricketing battle raged, those like Sood with friends in both camps didn’t know what to do. “I couldn’t believe there was so much pressure…where to sit, what to wear!” he recounted.
SRK’s unusually restrained presence in the box matched his unobtrusive arrival at the stadium a little before the middle of the Kings XI Punjab innings.
Bolly’s biggest star typically arrives at matches featuring KKR well after the first ball is bowled, usually to a buzz of “There’s Shah Rukh!” as the television cameras capture his trademark salute and flying kisses to the crowd.
At the Chinnaswamy Stadium on Sunday, Preity Zinta was already in danger of losing her voice screaming “Punjab! Punjab!” when the cameras first caught Shah Rukh standing beside KKR co-owner Jay Mehta, dressed in his usual purple and white KKR hoodie.
SRK soon took a seat beside daughter Suhana and continuously chatted with her. Responding to the crowd, he would occasionally spread his arms wide, like fans say only he can. He would blow kisses at them, too. But those in the box knew that this was a different Shah Rukh in front of them.
Juhi Chawla, husband Jay, SRK’s friend Vivek Khushalani, nobody moved. Once they had chosen their places in the box, they weren’t allowed to.
The tension mounted as the Knights kept losing wickets, although guest Sood had seen the purple box confident that the target of 200 set by Kings XI was a gettable one. “There is something about these KKR people…. There is a lot of belief that they are going to pull through. I don’t think they were overly worried. They felt that they had the strength to go through and they had that body language…the confidence,” he recalled.
According to minister Biswas, all the pent-up emotions of the previous three-and-a-half hours exploded the moment the ball left Piyush Chawla’s bat for the winning boundary. “SRK was the first to jump out and hug almost everyone in the box. I told him that I had kept my promise about the team’s victory. He congratulated me and gave me a hug,” KKR’s “mascot” said.
Biswas then stepped out of the box and came running down the stairs to a less noisy enclosure, from where he called boss Mamata. “She asked me to congratulate the team and also Wriddhiman Saha and ensure that all the players were safely back in the city for the celebration on Tuesday,” he said.