Bollywood has the ability to inspire all of us in different ways, and, it seems like the wrestling ring owes a lot to filmdom too. While Salman Khan-starrer Sultan just made it to the big screen, Dangal, an upcoming film that stars Aamir Khan is also in news. What’s common between the two? Both the films have wrestling as a common premise, with protagonists, especially women, taking up the sport. And, Delhiites are lapping the Khans-piration .
Raghav Bindal, a 26-year-old advertising professional says he was always a gym enthusiast but Bollywood convinced him that professional wrestling could be worth a try. “A lot of us see wrestling as ‘uncool’ or not a serious profession. But, when you see inspirational stories on screen, it makes you feel like you can also become a role model. A lot of us at the gym were speaking about how ripped Salman looks in his movie, and wondered if we should too try our hand at wrestling, so we’ll be visiting a centre for it soon,” he says.
Manoj Arora, a 25-year-old businessman, has a similar story. “When I saw the trailer of Sultan, I was extremely impressed by it. I have been into fitness for three years, but it’s only now that I am trying my hand at wrestling, thanks to Hindi cinema!,” he says.
Professional wrestler Prince Aadvanshi of Delhi-based Freak Fighters trains wrestling enthusiasts, and says with the advent of films that are wrestling-centric, the sport is becoming a choice for many youngsters in the Capital. “So many wrestling enthusiasts visit us daily, and they are from all fields of life. I can tell you that Salman Khan is a big inspiration for many students, who are as young as 19, and with Bollywood coming up with such films, the profession is only picking up,” he says, adding: “The women in these movies are also seen as successful wrestlers. We train a lot of girls, many of them are inspired by what they see on screen and want to take it up for self defense, too.”
City-based model Nitin Rao believes that wrestling can also be a stepping stone into Bollywood. “I trained as a wrestler at the village level, after which I bagged a small role (in the film Kaun Kitne Paani Mein), in which I played a wrestler. This happens with many youngsters, who are inspired by Bollywood in the first place to get into the profession. Ab, dono badey stars ne wrestling par movie banayi hai toh youngsters toh inspire honge hi!,” he says.
Wrestler and actor Sangram Singh agrees: “Bollywood plays a big role when it comes to inspire youngsters to take up wrestling which is about both, mental and physical discipline. No longer do people see it as something which is not a serious sport, and film like these contribute a lot. I have seen this especially when it comes to women, who are taking up wrestling in a big way. Cricket is no longer the only thing we care about!”
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