There is no doubting the fact that Shah Rukh Khan is a massive sports fan. His co-ownership of the Kolkata franchise of a domestic T20 cricket tournament, his on-screen turn as a hockey coach (in Chak De! India; 2007) and several interviews in which he’s talked about the need for people to encourage various sporting disciplines in India, prove that.
It was perhaps for this reason that, a few years back, veteran badminton player (and actor Deepika Padukone's father) Prakash Padukone, approached Shah Rukh to sponsor Indian shuttler Saina Nehwal. The Olympic medal-winner was, at the time, just a rising young athlete. SRK, it seems, at the time, had his hands full managing his franchise, Kolkata Knight Riders, and therefore, wasn’t able to associate with any other sport.
Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan waves at his fans.
This came to light when, last year, Shah Rukh made the startling revelation himself at a public event. He even went on to apologise to Saina, who was present at the event. Ask Saina about it now, and she says with a smile, "I really liked his gesture. He is a great hero. I see his movies, and like his acting."
Coincidentally, Saina says that one of the Bollywood films she managed to find time for amid her hectic schedule was last year’s blockbuster, Shah Rukh-starrer, Chennai Express that was directed by Rohit Shetty.
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Saina has been known to be friendly with SRK’s co-star, Deepika (who, as a teenager, played national-level badminton). Although the shuttler believes Deepika has been doing good work, she maintains that since we are in diverse fields, they haven’t been in constant touch. But she maintains that she had a nice meeting in Bengaluru with Deepika's sister, Anisha, recently.
With rumours of a biopic on Saina being rife in Bollywood, ask who she would like to see portraying her, and she says, "When something is decided, then this question will come."