Salman Khan has made news for all the hard work he put in for his upcoming film Sultan (on wrestling). He had to weigh 97 kg, had rigorous workouts and barely slept. And if trade pundits’ predictions are right, the film will rake in hundreds of crores.
Sultan is just one of the many films that are being made on the sports community. There is Dangal, starring Aamir Khan that also deals with wrestling, then there was Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, Mary Kom and the iconic Chak De.
But while these films went on to rake in the moolah, what remains unchanged is the situation — lack of funding and opportunities — of these sports communities. Take for instance the wrestling community. On an average, a budding wrestler is required to spend at least Rs 30,000 a month on their bodies.
“We need milk, huge amounts of it, proteins, dry fruits and a lot more. This is the minimum we require to keep our bodies in shape. So yes we end up spending a lot of money,” says Mettu Shiva Krishna, who has been a 17-time state champion in wrestling, adding, “A few of us work to raise this money, but for the others it is very difficult.”
And funding is hard to come by. “It takes a minimum of 10-15 years to become a proper wrestler, but where is the money for that? Most of the upcoming wrestlers are poor and struggling, as an akhara we pool in money and try to help, but there are a lot of things beyond us,” he adds.
Which is where, according to Shiva, the community is losing out. “When movies take inspiration from us and make lots of money, why then can’t they help? Even if they raise funds for one akhara it will help so many wrestlers.”
While the sports community does feel that more help can be extended, directors who’ve worked on these plots feel they are doing their bit, even if it doesn’t involve money. “Everyone makes money in any kind of business.”
It’s not that I have made Mary Kom only to make money. My donations to the community have been by making films like Mary Kom and Sarbjit. This is my way of raising awareness. I have done my job, now people will discuss this and take a step ahead in helping out, ” says Omung Kumar.
“Yes, monetary benefits are of great help, but that is not all that filmmakers can do. Look at it this way, if the community is inspiring you to make a story and you end up making lots of money, wouldn’t you want to help?” asks Omkarnath Yadav, boxing coach at the Sports Authority of Telangana.
“It’s good that the community gets so much interest from these films, but what beyond that? Do you know how dangerous boxing injuries are? They can leave people badly injured, if filmmakers can’t help an entire community, at least take up the cause of an individual, set up a fund for them or even get them an insurance policy; why can’t this be done?” he asks.
— with inputs from Lipika Varma...