DELHI, TOO, IN THE MOOD TO WRES­TLE

Bol­ly­wood’s big dose of akhada in­spi­ra­tion is push­ing young­sters in the city to take on the sport that wasn’t al­ways con­sid­ered cool

Hindustan Times (Patna) - Live - - Front Page - Snigdha Ahuja snigdha.ahuja@hin­dus­tan­times.com

While Sal­man Khan has been a gym role model for thou­sands, Del­hi­ites are also tak­ing wrestling in­spo from our mus­cu­lar ac­tor, thanks to his lat­est film, Sul­tan, which has opened to rave re­views. And with Aamir Khan’s next, Dan­gal, the spot­light on the sport is here to stay, and Del­hi­ites are lap­ping the Khans-pi­ra­tion

Raghav Bin­dal, 26, an ad­ver­tis­ing pro­fes­sional, says Bol­ly­wood con­vinced him that pro-wrestling could be worth a try. “A lot of us see wrestling as un­cool, but, in­spi­ra­tional sto­ries on screen makes you feel like you can also be a role model. Ev­ery­one at my gym dis­cussed Sal­man’s ripped look, and it con­vinced me and some of my friends to join a lo­cal akhada,” he says. Manoj Arora, 25, a busi­ness­man has a sim­i­lar story. “I’ve been into fit­ness for three years, but Sul­tan’s trailer im­pressed me so much that I’m try­ing my hand at wrestling,” he says.

Pro­fes­sional wrestler Prince Aad­van­shi, who trains up­com­ing wrestlers, con­firms the rise in Delhi’s in­ter­est in the sport. “Sal­man bhai is a big in­spi­ra­tion for stu­dents as young as 19. Be­cause of such films, a lot of en­thu­si­asts line up to en­roll,” he says. Not just men, women, too, are keen to take on the ring à la Anushka Sharma in the film. “We train sev­eral girls. Many join after watch­ing strong women char­ac­ters on screen. Girls take up wrestling for self de­fense, too.”

For some, it’s also a ticket to Bol­ly­wood. Model Nitin Rao tells us: “I trained as a wrestler at the vil­lage level, after which I bagged a small role in the film, Kaun Kitne Paani Mein. Bol­ly­wood is a big in­spi­ra­tion for many. Ab, dono badey stars ne wrestling par movie ba­nayi hai toh young­sters in­spire honge hi!”

Wrestler and ac­tor San­gram Singh agrees: “No longer do peo­ple see wrestling as some­thing which is not a se­ri­ous sport, and films on it con­trib­ute to­wards push­ing young­sters. Many women, too, are tak­ing up wrestling after see­ing it in films.”

PHOTO: SHIVAM SAX­ENA/HT

Del­hi­ites in a wrest­ing du,el

at a city akhada

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