Mumbai, Preity Zinta, who co-owns Indian Premier League (IPL) team Kings XI Punjab, says the Twenty20 tournament moving to South Africa is like “asking an actor to perform in a theatre where nobody knows him”, but the Bollywood star also hopes the shift helps in making the event bigger.
“The option was to either have it outside India or not at all. No one is happy to shift from home ground. That thrill of playing across our own country at domestic tournaments is gone. Going to various cities with the matches is a high,” Preity told IANS in an interview.
“But we’ve to be optimistic. Last year when the IPL started everyone thought it would flop. It became the biggest hit ever. Likewise, the shift to South Africa could make the IPL bigger,” she said on a positive note.
The actress is a little upset that the IPL crisis coincided with the release of her film “Videsh – Heaven On Earth” in India.
“The timing of the IPL crisis was unfortunate. My most challenging film ‘Heaven On Earth’ is on release. I’d have liked more time nurturing it. You know I did ‘Heaven On Earth’ for myself… I just needed to connect more with my inner self. This film made me do that,” said Preity.
Excerpts from the interview with IANS:
Q. Was it a shock to you when the IPL was relocated to South Africa?
A. The option was to either have it outside India or not at all. No one is happy to shift from home ground. That thrill of playing across our own country at domestic tournaments is gone. Going to various cities with the matches is a high. However, people can still watch it on TV. That’s still there.
Q. But an Indian event shifted to South Africa?
A. I know. But we’ve to be optimistic. Last year when the IPL started everyone thought it would flop. It became the biggest hit ever. Likewise the shift to South Africa could make the IPL bigger. What else can I do except be hopeful?
Q. But it’s being translocated to a new culture and environment?
A. Of course, it is! But what can we do? I’ve always believed whatever happens in life happens for the best. The timing of the IPL crisis was unfortunate. My most challenging film, ‘Heaven On Earth’, is on release. I’d have liked more time nurturing it. You know I did ‘Heaven On Earth’ for myself. Lots of times I’ve done things for this reason and that. But this time it was entirely for me. I just needed to connect more with my inner self. This film made me do that.
Q. Tell me about your preparation for the role.
A. I’ve worked quite a lot with battered women. I’ve studied so many kinds of mental disorders. Domestic violence comes much after other forms of disorder. Every scene in ‘Heaven On Earth’ rings true. I had a hundred notions on how to play the role. But when I met abused women I decided it has to be very real. I’m very proud of it. Let’s see how audiences in India react.
Q. So the IPL moving out of India is like uprooting a national event?
A. Exactly. It’s like asking an actor to perform in a theatre where nobody knows him. But we’ll make sure that the quality and profile of the game don’t change. Only two percent of the audience watches the game in a stadium. Most of them watch the game on television.
But there’s that vibe when the game happens on home ground. That spirit can’t be captured anywhere. Having said that I don’t want to sound whiny and petty. I want to thank South Africa for agreeing to host the IPL games. They’ve gone out of their way to accommodate us, flung their fields open to us. I think South Africa will make a beautiful home for the games.
Q. Wasn’t the choice between South Africa and England?
A. Yes, there were several options. But it finally came down to choosing between those two countries. We didn’t want to go into a place where there was too much rain. I think South Africa will be fun. Who knows, they might even allow me to play. That’s my secret fantasy. Miracles do happen, you know.
Q. Is it just elections that ousted IPL from India. Or was there a security scare after what happened to the Sri Lankan cricket team in Pakistan?
A. I refuse to believe India is scared about the security. Does the country shut down because we can’t get enough security? I think we need to vote even more carefully. We must put proper people in places of power. I don’t think we should vote for anyone who has got criminal records. See their track records and then vote.
Q. How will you be ready with the IPL in South Africa in time?
A. We Indians don’t only exist in chaos. We thrive in it. Even last year when IPL happened for the first time we grappled with all odds. I know I’m going to have sleepless nights. But that’s a different story. I can’t pretend I’m not disappointed by the relocation. But South Africa is a terrific country.
I’ll have lots to do besides cricket. In Punjab it was difficult for me to move out. Preity Zinta will have a blast shopping in South Africa. Preity Zinta, the team owner, is worried. We’ve no players from South Africa. Neither does Shah Rukh (Khan).
Q. Are the boys demoralized by the relocation?
A. Their choice was between no IPL and IPL in South Africa.