Tuesday, April 14, 2009

IPL a 'thank you' to SA, says Khan

Bringing the Indian Premier League (IPL) to South Africa is a means of saying "thank you" to South Africa for its hospitality and warmth over the years, says Kolkatta Knight Riders co-owner and Bollywood star Shahrukh Khan.

Fondly known as the Tom Cruise of Bollywood, Khan lands in Cape Town on Tuesday in time for the league at the weekend. His team has already been training in Bloemfontein for two weeks.

The Kolkatta Knight Riders, owned by Khan, Indian businessman Jai Mehta, and his Bollywood actress wife, Juhi Chawla, is one of the eight teams participating in the IPL this year.

Khan, 43, has made several trips to Namibia and South Africa, visiting Joburg, Durban, Cape Town and, more recently, Sun City, but this trip will be special because it will be his first visit "with the kids". He is expected to arrive with his wife, Gauri Khan, son Aryan and daughter Suhana.

The family would stay for a few weeks, mostly in Cape Town, he said.

He said he was really looking forward to the tournament.

"South Africans are such warm people, very welcoming, very open and friendly."

He said the tournament was significant for his team because the whole team would be in town, unlike last year when some players did not take part.

"We're hoping to see some of the wildlife and we're really looking forward to meeting some of the people again... and drink some good South African wine," he said.

He was expecting some competition, but the team were aiming to make the top six and hoping to secure a position in the top four teams of the tournament.

"But South Africans won't need to worry - as an actor and as a film-maker I can assure you we will put on a good show."

Despite his claim to fame as a Bollywood legend Khan has always had deep roots in sport, particularly cricket. He recalls a stint as a "good" wicketkeeper when he was 19.

Khan said he had been working on many projects, mostly to do with sport, because as a teenager he was involved in many sporting codes, including hockey and cricket, which took priority.

"Many youngsters never really had access to these sports. In our country you can't really make a career of it. So I wanted to create something that my son could be involved in one day. When I was young playing cricket wasn't really considered a profession, so I really wanted to create a platform for young people to develop their skills and talents. I look at it as a part of my social responsibility."

Given that his name Shahrukh means "face of the king", it is not surprising the star is currently the top actor in India, according to Internet critics.

Khan has won several awards for his outstanding performances in Darr, in 1993, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, in 1995, Dil To Pagal, in 1997 and Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, in 1998. He owns three production houses in India, Red Chillies Entertainment and Idiot Box, and runs the Dreamz Unlimited production company with co-star Juhi Chawla and director Aziz Mirza.

So what about Slumdog Millionaire?

Khan, who turned down a role in the movie, said he personally wanted to make the movie.

"I've said it's not an Indian film, it's a foreign film, and how India is portrayed in the movie is not the point of the film. The film is not about the country. But it was very well done. I think it turned out far better than if I had done it."

[credit : http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?set_id=6&click_id=17&art_id=vn20090414114913610C245954]

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