When Bollywood Met The IPL…

As the bond between Bollywood and IPL grows stronger and stronger, the seasoned Bollywood fan can no longer bluff their way through cricket based conversations with debating why Deepika and Dhoni parted ways, so what better than to get guest blogger and cricket super fan Aatif Nawaz to give us the lowdown on the bond between Bollywood and the IPL. For more cricket, check out Aatif’s blog: www.doctorcricket.wordpress.com

Bollywood & The Indian Premier League – A Money-Making Machine

It’s only logical. Cricket and Bollywood. India’s two biggest passions…exports…businesses. It was only a matter of time before someone connected the long dotted line to make an impact – commercially.

On April 18th 2008 The Kolkata Knight Riders defeated the Bangalore Royal Challengers at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore. This was no ordinary domestic cricket match. It was the first match of a league worth more than a billion American dollars in broadcast rights alone. The tournament of course is the Indian Premier League or IPL.

A business of epic proportions, it utilised the franchise system that had made American and European Leagues so popular (not to mention lucrative) over the last few decades. The potential of the league drew in some of India’s biggest and most respected business people – including Vijay Mallya, Mukesh Ambani and Shah Rukh Khan.

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Yes, Shah Rukh Khan – one of the greatest and most commercially successful Bollywood actors/producers in history – invested in an IPL franchise. Joined by fellow Bollywood star and business-partner Juhi Chawla, SRK purchased the Kolkata Knight Riders at a cost of US$75.09 million.

SRK took great pleasure in leading the 80,000 strong crowd in what had to be the world’s biggest rendition of the song Om Shanti Om, from Khan’s movie of the same name. It was truly a spectacle to behold. But behind the seemingly innocent and visceral entertainment lay a huge commercial machine designed to promote not only the team, but Brand Shah Rukh.

But SRK was not the only Bollywood superstar to invest in the IPL. His Kal Ho Naa Ho co-star Preity Zinta (and her associates) has also invested in a franchise: The King’s Punjab XI. And far from a silent partner, Preity has also made her presence felt, by attending both of the IPL’s auctions to date and was a regular fixture at the teams…erm…fixtures last season.

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And the Bollywood glamour doesn’t end with simple investments; Akshay Kumar was assigned the role of “team mascot” for the Delhi Daredevils, so Akshay shrewdly roped in heroine du jour, Katrina Kaif and the pair used their appearances to promote their then-upcoming movie Singh is King.

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This season promises an even greater Bollywood involvement. Shilpa Shetty, who shot to fame in the UK on the back of her Celebrity Big Brother success, purchased a stake of 11.7% in the reigning champions of the IPL, the Rajasthan Royals, at a cost of US$15.4 million. Again, I highly doubt she’ll settle for being a silent partner.

Let’s face it. There’s simply no separating Bollywood and its glamour from the IPL. Any why would anyone want to? The numbers show that the only two franchises to draw a profit in this year’s IPL were the Kolkata Knight Riders and the Rajasthan Royals. The latter were the cheapest franchise on offer, prior to becoming the league’s champions. And it should surprise no-one that the majority of the movies promoted via the IPL (Om Shanti Om, Singh is King, etc.) turned out to be mega-hits and ultimately, huge money-spinners themselves.

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When Lalit Modi, the Chairman of the IPL, gave birth to this concept, he could hardly have imagined it the sheer magnitude of its inter-promotional potential. His bank balance sky-rocketing, his answering machine filled with messages from Bollywood stars desperate for a piece of the action, Mr. Modi must be a happy man.

So with only a few weeks to go before the second edition of this cash camel commences, one can look forward to more exhilarating action and engrossing television.

Oh and you might see some cricket too…

©Doctor Cricket 2009

You can read more of Aatif’s work at www.doctorcricket.wordpress.com

 

 

 

 

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