Akshay Kumar is not just busy with movies, as an actor and producer, but also working hard on making the Open Invitational Karate Tournament that he started last year, bigger and better. The martial arts tournament scheduled between October 28 and 31 at the Andheri Sports Complex, has already attracted over 3,000 contenders, 6,000 up on last year’s entries.
“It gives me the platform to realise my passion for promoting sports,” says Kumar.
As India readies for the Commonwealth Games that open in Delhi on October 3, the action star insists we need to start taking sports more seriously. “We’re not naturally oriented towards outdoor activities. Most youngsters prefer to stroll in malls and sit around in restaurants rather than sweat it out in the open,” he rues.
He attributes this waning interest to lack of infrastructure. “Whatever facilities are available come at an astronomical cost,” he observes, unhappy with the fact that sports in our country is still seen more as a hobby than a career option. “Things have to change at a fundamental level.”
That’s one reason he initiated the karate tournament last October. The idea originated when he was watching his son Aarav train under Shihan Mehul Vora, who has been practising martial arts for 27 years.
“When Akshay heard that there were many karate kids who were keen to participate in a competition but couldn’t afford it, he decided to initiate a tournament to help martial arts enthusiasts fulfill their ambition,” reveals a friend of the actor, adding that eight winners from the last year’s contest went on to participate in the International Karate Championship in Japan in July and returned with one silver and three bronze medals.
When asked about his plans for taking the tournament to other cities in India, Kumar, who is currently shooting for Farah Khan’s
Tees Maar Khan
, says that he will make an announcement closer to the tournament.
Katrina Kaif’s item number,
Sheela ki jawani
… has been the talk of the town. Isn’t he disappointed to not be a part of the chartbuster? “How do you know I’m not in it? Wait and watch,” he retorts, adding that he’s also happy to have Salman Khan on board, in a special appearance song with him and Kaif. “Salman is a friend and his participation will only enhance our film.”
The actor, who turned 43 on Thursday, concedes that his criteria for selecting movies have changed since he bagged the Padma Shri last year. “The national honour urges me to excel in whatever I do,” he asserts. “I’ve become more responsible as an actor.”