Stars: Of The Film and Sports Variety

The only stars people knew of for eons were film stars. Now we have two kind of stars — film stars and sports stars. And at times, you don’t know which are the bigger draw.

I think, the only way to find out is to compare their product endorsement fees. My guess is that ViratKohli and Ranveer Singh would be rather neck-to-neck and, if not, Virat would be stealing the march.

This has happened  thanks to bad quality product output from the film industry and high-end performances from sportspersons.

India did not have any sporting heroes and for years, the only sport we were proud of was Hockey. But, that glory also lasted only till the mid-1960s.

We did have cricket stars as well as a few Tennis, Badminton, Chess and Billiards stars. However, many identified with a sport other than cricket. The cricketers had fans limited to those who followed the game. One of the reasons sportspersons had not yet become idols was because they were not visible on any screen. The other, and the main, reason was that Indian sportspeople were not winning at the international level. The sports pages had only national champions to report about. That anomaly was set to change gradually as television arrived in India in steps. First came the black and white TV sets, followed by a colour telecast in 1982 to coincide with the start of the Asian Games in Delhi. Gradually, the national channel, Doordarshan, expanded and selected sports were made available to viewers.

By the beginning of the 1990s, with the entry of private broadcasters which included, besides the channels dedicated to films and news, also had those which specialised in sports telecast.

Cricket did not pay much and we were not in the habit of winning till one fine day in 1983, an aggressive young Indian, Kapil Dev, and his confident cricket team won for India the One Day International trophy. That night, the way the victory was celebrated across the streets of India was incomparable. Film stars had competition now. They had ruled the roost for too long.

Not to stretch it further, India started getting its heroes from other sports too such as Boxing, Wrestling, Shooting, Badminton and Tennis.

What really created new stars was the involvement of India’s moneybags into sports. It started with IPL where big industrial houses sponsored their own teams. Earlier, the trend was for the banks, public sector companies and big businesses to only employ sportsmen and have their own teams. These fetched them headlines when their teams did well.

But, save for a couple of business houses, the owners also included film stars who joined forces with cricket stars to start with which followed by promoting other sports like hockey, kabaddi and football.

Earlier, the only sport that film stars invested in was horse racing. Feroze Khan, Mahmood and a few others owned race horses and were well-known punters! There was even a story of the song writer, Rajinder Krishan, winning a Jack Pot, which turned him into a lakhpati in the era of hundreds!

Now, film people own cricket teams. Preity Zinta, Juhi Chawla, Shah Rukh Khan, being the front runners. Rather than compete, stars from both fields have joined forces. Romantic ties were a predictable outcome of this merger between the cricket and film world and some stars have even ended up tying the knot and becoming life partners. 

@ The Box Office

Last week, the Box Office section was avoided to devote the column to the great artiste, Sridevi, who died an untimely death.   Time to catch up.

*We had a love story in Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety, a small film, which has gone on to become a big hit. The film, which collected Rs 43.5 crore in its first week is still holding strong in its second week on its own merit as well as due to the lack of a strong opposition. The film is expected to add another Rs  28 crore in its second week to take its two week tally to over Rs 71 crore. Which makes it a huge hit.

*The new release of the week, Pari is bad.  The audience does not like to spend money on senseless torturous horror films; it just does not cater to Indian tastes. The film may just manage to end its opening week with about Rs  20 crore.

*Another new release, Veerey Ki Wedding, has done very poorlt. Having collected about Rs  2.3 crore during its opening weekend, the film will end its first week with figures barely managing to cross Rs  3 crore.

* Among earlier releases, Padmaavat still continues to hold its own as it collects about Rs 2.5 crore in its sixth week. Taking its total so far over Rs 277 crore.