Abhishek Bachchan Reflects on The Rise of Pro Kabaddi League: "Sometimes Kabaddi Players Get Paid More Than Me"
In a recent candid conversation with NDTV, Bollywood actor Abhishek Bachchan shared insights into his journey with the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL), shedding light on the league's rapid rise and his personal connection to the sport. As the owner of the Jaipur Pink Panthers franchise, Abhishek discussed his initial scepticism, the influence of industrialist Anand Mahindra, and the surprising financial landscape within the world of kabaddi.
Kabaddi, a sport deeply ingrained in India's cultural fabric, has undergone a remarkable transformation, positioning itself as the second-most-watched sporting event in the country, following the iconic Indian Premier League (IPL). Abhishek, a self-proclaimed sports enthusiast with a penchant for basketball, football, and cricket, revealed that it was Anand Mahindra who introduced him to the idea of Pro Kabaddi League.
Approximately a decade ago, during social gatherings with Mahindra, discussions about sports invariably took center stage. It was in one such conversation that Mahindra proposed the concept of the Pro Kabaddi League to Abhishek. Intrigued by the unconventional suggestion, Abhishek took the time to delve into the viability of such a league. What he discovered during the research phase left a lasting impression.
"About 10, 11 years ago, whenever I used to meet Mr. Anand Mahindra socially, he said, 'I am putting this league together, called the Pro Kabaddi League, would you be interested in joining it?'" Abhishek recalled. His initial surprise at the idea of a kabaddi league soon turned into genuine enthusiasm as he witnessed the fervor surrounding a local kabaddi tournament near his home, attended by a staggering 10,000 spectators.
The electrifying atmosphere and the untapped potential of kabaddi on the national stage resonated with Abhishek's vision for sports engagement. "It ticked all the boxes of the kind of work I wanted to do in sports," he affirmed. With a renewed passion for the sport, Abhishek embraced the opportunity and joined forces with Mahindra to bring Pro Kabaddi to life.
One of the fascinating revelations from Abhishek's discussion was the notable surge in Kabaddi player salaries, surpassing even the earnings of Bollywood stars. Acknowledging this shift, Abhishek admitted, "Sometimes Kabaddi players get paid more than me." This financial upswing underscores the growing commercial viability of kabaddi and its ability to attract top-tier talent.
As the Pro Kabaddi League continues to captivate audiences across the nation, Abhishek Bachchan's journey from initial scepticism to becoming a pivotal figure in the league's success serves as a testament to the transformative power of sports. With the league's popularity soaring and players enjoying lucrative contracts, the landscape of Indian sports is evolving, offering new opportunities and narratives for athletes and stakeholders alike.
Abhishek Bachchan's reflections on the Pro Kabaddi League not only highlight the league's unexpected success but also shed light on the dynamic and lucrative nature of the kabaddi industry, where players are now reaping rewards that rival those of renowned Bollywood figures. The story of PKL is one of vision, passion, and the enduring spirit of a sport that has transcended traditional boundaries to become a powerhouse in the Indian sporting landscape.