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Raj Kundra: The heady mix of business, Bollywood, sport

cricket Updated: Oct 05, 2015 09:11 IST
Kushal Phatarpekar
Kushal Phatarpekar
Hindustan Times
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Former Chennai Super Kings (CSK) team official Gurunath Meiyappan and Rajasthan Royals co-owner Raj Kundra have been suspended for life from any cricketing activity. (HT photo)

It was in 2008 that then cricket administrator Lalit Modi had proposed an idea to wed cricket with Bollywood and form the Indian Premier League (IPL). It was during this period when a British-Asian businessman Raj Kundra had first started to make inroads into the world of film-financing in Bollywood.

Kundra's time India was closely associated with that of glamour and entertainment. It was with film-financing that he attempted to make his entry into the world of Bollywood. His success in the Indian film industry though was restricted to his nuptials with actor Shilpa Shetty.

Born in a family of Punjabi migrants based in UK, Kundra began with limited means. He even briefly worked as a bus conductor in London.

However, with ambitions greater than a lowly job, he soon started a small business selling pashmina shawls. It would be later reported that Kundra made a turnover of close 20 million pounds in his first year.

The business of selling shawls failed to satiate his need of the 'good-life'. Kundra soon turned his attention towards Indian shores, largely towards the entertainment industry in Mumbai.

He made his foray into the world of entertainment, including a reality show among other things. His wedding with Shetty though took him right into the middle of the heady world of showbiz. For a long duration, he was addressed in news publications as the 'British-Asian businessman'.

Naturally, then when an opportunity to buy a stake in a franchise which wedded India's two big obsessions cricket Kundra found his next calling.

In 2009 he bought an 11.7% stake in the Rajasthan Royals franchise. However, his role and involvement had remained that of a small entity in a world, which is dominated by industrialists, Bollywood superstars.

It was only natural then that Kundra would make a foray into other avenues that involved the same mix of glamour and sports.

His immediate move to get associated with another film industry stalwart Sanjay Dutt to start the Mixed-Martial Arts tournament, Super Fight League (SFL) only perpetuates his love for fame and the mix of entertainment and sport.

It was at the SFL that Kundra found his calling and an environment where he was the boss. He would go on to diversify his business, also founding a home-shopping channel.

However, despite his many enterprises it was his stake in the IPL brought him the fame he desired the most.

However, the rising star of Raj Kundra descended soon after the IPL spot-fixing scandal unraveled. With Kundra admitting to have placed bets on IPL matches his fate was nearly sealed.

As Justice Lodha committee handing life-long suspension on Kundra from all cricketing activities it will most likely be back to the shawls and the fights for the British-Asian businessman.