As he stood there, hand raised in triumph, in a black tee and aviators at the edge of the purple patch in the Chepauk stands, he looked less Shah Rukh Khan and more Kabir Khan.
The coach of the women’s hockey team in Chak De! India who had fought many difficult battles — personal and public — to steer the gang of girls to victory in the World Cup for the country.
KKR won IPL 5 on Sunday night by five wickets and did their owner proud for the first time since the inception of the tournament in 2008.
“Thank you Gautam (Gambhir) and my boys,” said a “very, very happy” Shah Rukh after the match.
At times a motivator, at times a mentor, he has even been the big bad gunda of the purple-and-gold team if and when required. In Kabir Khan lingo: “Har team mein ek hi gunda hota hai aur iss team ka gunda main hoon.”
In Shah Rukh Khan’s words: “Just like I am responsible for each one of the thousands of people working on my film, I am responsible for the 11 players of Kolkata Knight Riders. I may not be playing in the middle but it’s my team.”
It’s easy to presume that given a chance Shah Rukh would have bought the Mumbai team but the man himself had told The Telegraph way back during IPL 1: “I had this chat with Lalit (Modi) even before the IPL and I told him that two cities in the country represent sports to me and they are Calcutta and Goa. From carrom to cricket. Like if I have to do films, I will do it in Mumbai. Like if you want IT, go down south, man. You know when it comes to Calcutta, mujhe culture maloom hai, history maloom hai, Bengali zeal bhi maloom hai, par mujhe Calcutta sports hi lagta hai. I am very happy that the city has embraced me.”
But that embrace often threatened to choke. As the team made losing a habit, IPL after IPL, one question was always lobbed at Shah Rukh: “When are you selling your team?” And the answer every time, without a blink, has been: “KKR is my team and I will never ever leave it…. I take my IPL team very emotionally, I have just invested some priceless emotions.”
During his Ra.One promo trip to Calcutta last year, the on-screen superhero told us: “My father taught me that the person who wins in the fighting ring is not the person who can hit hard but the person who can take a lot of hitting. And I am not going down. I have a very simple logic in life: you can hit me but I am not going down.”
And on Super Sunday night, the 12th Knight — that’s his original jersey number — King Khan stood the tallest, and cartwheeled the furthest.
His eternal dream? “To build a Manchester United kind of team… KKR is the biggest brand in IPL. Imagine if my team wins, people all over the world would give up playing football and start playing cricket!”
Through defeat after defeat, the passion for victory in the star Scorpio had just kept growing and growing. “The important thing is to win the IPL tournament for Calcutta. At the end of it all, that is the goal. Because I honestly think that I have let down Calcutta… a sporting city like Calcutta. This is how we have started but I want KKR to end as the best sporting club of the country. I just need that one victory. That is my goal. All of us want to win it for Calcutta.”Chak De! India IPL Kolkata Knight Riders Shah Rukh Khan