When Bollywood Badshah came calling to emerge as the ‘Baazigar’ of cricket to unveil the Kolkata team, he named Kolkata as ‘Knight Riders’, B Arindham caught up with the showman himself
How confident are you of turning your IPL venture into a profitable business venture? I am not. I am not very good with numbers. Obviously there will be some money generated from advertisement, gate sales and all, but I really don't know. The expenses involved are huge and I am not doing the figures. I will see what it is like at the end of the year and then depending on the balance sheet I have to dance at a few more marriages (witty smile).
When did you decide about owning an IPL team? It did not happen overnight. I was in London recuperating after a neck surgery when I used to watch English Premier League (EPL) and wished if I could own a club in India. But at that point I was thinking in terms of football or hockey. But then the IPL was announced. I got interested and here I am.
Your association with sports goes a long way... Yes, I studied at St Columbus and was into football, hockey and cricket. I loved sport and still do. I grew up watching Farooq Engineer, Sunil Gavaskar, Gundappa Vishwanath and they are such great players. I was a wicket keeper and would bat six or seven down.
What is your philosophy? My philosophy is simple. It is to work hard, be honest and win as along as possible. Perhaps the name of the team has connection to my philosophy. I had a hundred names with names like warriors and Indians, but I chose Knight Riders. The point was to play and play to win. It is the feeling of I will do it every morning when I get up.
Why did you choose gold and black as the colours? Black symbolizes shakti (power) of Maa Kali and Gold is for victory. Every time you win silver, you lose the gold. We want to win the golden helmet.
Why did you pitch in for Kolkata team? If the auctioning process was ever revealed you will see I had opted for Kolkata team, and other names were given as second and third options. I wanted to own the Kolkata club; because of the passion the people have for sports here. It is a sports crazy city and I wanted Sourav Ganguly to lead my side. I know him for sometime now, I like the way he plays his cricket. He is passionate and hardworking.
How important a part does Aryan play in it? It is not only for Aryan, but also for all the kids in the nation that we have Hoog Lee (the tiger mascot of the team). He is whacky, lazy and a mirror to us. He is the 17th player in the side. He will hold up a mirror to us if we do anything wrong. He will be fun.
Do you remember the first cricket match you went to see? Yes, it was an India-Pakistan game at Feroze Shah Kotla. The match ended in a tie. Imran Khan made 30 odd runs. Then I have been to matches in Mumbai and then to 20-20 World Cup.
Who are your sporting idols? Sunil Gavaskar and P T Usha, simply because they brought dignity to Indian sport.
How has the journey been? I lost my parents early. Apart form those tragedies; the journey has been fairly happy. And Insallah I have got the love of millions of people. I feel humbled.