Chanting the mantra of success

It's semifinal time for the event after sweeping the fans off their feet

Chanting the mantra of success

Kabaddi, in a matter of days, has become the talk of the town. As action picked up pace in the Pro-Kabaddi League, from social media to pubs that dot the city, the buzz was all about the game that was making waves. 

The scores weren’t the only things up for discussion — the games were dissected and the players’ performances examined carefully. The cosmetic makeover of the sport that has enabled them to thoroughly enjoy the game on television came up for special mention.

Indeed, the league, contrary to expectations, has managed to make an impact with even the urban youth – something that Abhishek Bachchan, the owners of the Jaipur Pink Panthers, stressed a lot while conversing with the media recently.

Based on a format modelled on the hugely successful Indian Premier League, PKL’s overnight rise to prominence can be attributed to the instant connection it has made with the fans, the way the broadcasters have showcased it and the setting in the arena – creating an environment that is worthy of welcoming Floyd Mayweather.

Nitin Fernandes, a Bengaluru Bulls’ fan, echoes the same sentiment. “I first started watching it because it came on TV and the way it was being telecast. I got slowly addicted to it.

“Watching a match at the (Sree Kanteerava) Indoor Stadium was a totally different experience though. It was kind of unexpected to see so many people there for a sport which is not that big.”

Did that response take Star India’s Uday Shankar, the CEO, by surprise? “While we were confident of good television viewership,” he says, “the unprecedented response from fans has been overwhelming. “The league has received a cumulative viewership of 347 million in the first 22 days of the competition.”

Uday may be a business man with an enviable product at his disposal but he does strike the right chord. 

“Our country had 3,944 registered kabaddi clubs, with Mumbai alone accounting for 700 for them. With such a following, we were sure that the sport had the potential to do well if given the treatment it deserves.”

While watching the Bangalore phase of the league, it was a surreal experience watching a DJ saying, ‘Ajay,’ before the crowd, in unison, screamed, ‘Thakur,’. Manjeet Chillar, their skipper, also came in for the same treatment as the fans were able to identify with the stars within a month.

Akhilesh Baldota, another Bulls fan, is a prime example. “It’s nice to watch a local sport being shown on a grand stage and it’s a good feeling because kabaddi has everything that a sport needs – teamwork, strategy et al.”  The music system inside the Stadium are another plus. 

Apart from entertaining the fans with pre-game beats and metal music, they count down the final 10 seconds of a raider, ‘Dhus kabaddi, nau kabaddi, aat kabaddi, saath kabaddi,’ which sort of provides everyone inside the arena with a shot of adrenaline. 

Given the renaissance the sport is having at the moment, it won’t be facing any countdown of its own any time soon.

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