Sunday, May 5, 2013

Cricket no match for Shah Rukh Khan!

Mumbai May 6, 2013,

It\'s 7.50 pm and the match is about to take off. The mood at Eden Gardens, Kolkata is electrifying. Chants of the home team slogan rent the air. The bowler begins his run up, the batsman takes position. But the crowd is looking away.

The VIP stand is empty. \"Will he come in today?\" Everyone wants to know. Suddenly a message crackles on the wireless: \"Shah Rukh Khan is in the building, he is coming up, get ready.\" He walks in with his entourage, with strict instructions to his personal security, \'No pushing anyone, be gentle to everybody.\'

For SRK, this season of IPL has been an exercise in image management. Besides keeping his appearances decidedly lowkey, he has also kept his children away from the glare of the media. With Aryan in London, it is Suhana who has kept him company. But SRK has not let her out of his sight at all. As for the speculations about a fallout between his friend and franchise partner Juhi Chawla, on Friday, SRK simply walked in and hugged her and her husband Jay in the air-conditioned lounge. None of these images will ever make it to the media.

Back at the stadium, the PA systems announce his arrival as he takes up his favourite spot on the balcony. The crowd is up on its feet, frantically taking his pictures as he waves out to them. The match is relegated to the background. The stand is dotted with prominent faces - Usha Uthup, Raima Sen, Rituparna Sengupta. SRK plays the host, almost as if they are visiting his home in Mumbai.

The crucial match draws to a close, and SRK watches his team glide to a victory from the boundary line. If he is ecstatic, he is also restrained in his expression. Only those closest to him know what is going on in his mind. Right after the victory, Aryan calls him from London to congratulate him.

At a media event later the same evening, he regretted not being at all the matches this season. \"...because of my work,\" he explained, adding, \"Being at work and thinking about the game would be like Gautam Gambhir batting and thinking about movies. It is cheating, but yes, I have missed being here. I have to thank the people of this beautiful city who have opened their hearts for us and given me Jayand Juhi so much love.\"

The night was still young when SRK joined the rest of the team for an after party. If he was tired after a marathon day, he did not show it. \"Shah Rukh you are wanted on the dance floor,\" a team member whispered in his ears. He readily agreed.

The crowd made way for him, the DJ switched to songs from his films - Dil Se, Yes Boss, Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, Don and RA.One - began to play out. SRK danced with everyone for nearly three hours. But just when you thought that the 47-year-old, now sweating profusely, would call it a day, he climbed up a four feet-wall next to the DJ console, and danced there for the next 10 minutes. A source close to the star told Mirror, \"You will not see him getting as ecstatic about any of his films. It is sports that bring out the child in him. When he goes to meet Aryan and his friends in London, they all know him as the owner of an IPL team. It means a lot to those kids, and makes him proud and happy.\" SRK will be back in Mumbai to shoot for Rohit Shetty\'s Chennai Express.
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