Hello, Hoog Lee Boss brings the Riders

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By PRATIM D. GUPTA in Calcutta
  • Published 11.03.08
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Calcutta, March 11: “The Boss” has drawn the line: “You don’t win silver; you lose gold.”

Viking helmets in hand and Bengali on lips, Shah Rukh Khan today launched his Kolkata Knight Riders, the Indian Premier League’s city franchise supported by the ABP Group, the publishers of The Telegraph.

Korbo, lorbo, jitbo re,” the superstar roared in Bangla, quoting from the Vishal-Shekhar theme song for the Knight Riders. “Is the Bengali all right?” he asked the packed venue, joking how Sourav has been teaching him the language by giving him gaalis.

Shah Rukh handed the golden viking helmets to coach John Buchanan, captain-icon Sourav Ganguly and CAB president Prasun Mukherjee, declaring war against the other seven teams. The first match will be played in Bangalore on April 18, pitting the Knight Riders against Bangalore’s Royal Challengers.

The helmet — the Knight Riders’ logo — is in black and gold, in keeping with the battle theme. Black is “the spirit of Ma Kali as the destroyer of demons” while gold signifies “the team’s aim to win the battle of life”.

The team mascot is a Royal Bengal Tiger called Hoog Lee —“better than any Lee in the world” — playing on Hooghly and googly. “It doesn’t matter what John and Sourav say. I am the boss of this team and the one player who will play in all Kolkata Knight Riders’ matches is Hoog Lee,” he said.

“Constructive aggression is how I choose to call the attitude of the Knight Riders,” SRK later told The Telegraph. “That’s the message I want to send out to the young people of not just Calcutta but the entire country. This team is just for the youngsters. Anybody from eight years to 24 years, this team is for you. Go out, do well, fight for your rights and win the battle of life.”

Shah Rukh has clearly demarcated the areas of responsibility. “Basically there are three parts to running the Knight Riders team,” he explained. “I am the entertainment part. Sourav and John (Buchanan) are the cricket part. And Jai (Mehta, husband of Juhi Chawla, co-owners of the franchise) with his team is the administrative part. I don’t, in any which way, come into the other two parts. So, obviously, my part would look like a film. I would even do a music video to promote the team.”

A sneak peek into the entertainment quotient: the team commercials have the players playing cricket like football, replete with bicycle kicks and headers. “That’s how you play cricket in Bengal,” SRK chuckled.

Fielding concerns how such contrasting characters of the game — Sourav, Shoaib Akhtar and Ricky Ponting — will play in tandem, Shah Rukh said: “Unlike in Chak De! India, where I was the only goonda in the team, Kolkata Knight Riders has two goondas — John and Sourav.” He was quick to add: “Main toh bahut sharif insaan hoon (I am a very decent fellow).”

If the King was bristling with brio, the Maharaj was his sedate self. “All I can say is that watching cricket will be a very different experience in Calcutta from now on,” Sourav said.