IPL Season 4 flags off today and Juhi Chawla has her fingers crossed for her men in purple, the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR). "There’s been a complete revamp, from the administrative core to the team. It’s almost like we’re starting afresh. We look good on paper and our hopes are high," asserts Juhi who along with fellow actor Shah Rukh Khan is co-franchise owner of the team that will now be lead by India’s vice-captain Gautam Gambhir.
The team will be without their former captain this year. Sourav Ganguly was not picked up during the auction early this year and won’t be seen on the field this season.
"We too feel bad that Dada (Sourav Ganguly) will not be with us. We wanted him to come on as mentor but that didn’t work out. There are times when you have to take some tough decisions and not allow yourself to be ruled by emotions," she sighs. "Now we just have to put together the best playing XI and pray that they will win matches for us."
Will we see her in the stands? "I imagine I will be there for the matches in Kolkata," she says. Sourav’s exit hasn’t gone down well with his Bengali loyalists and a campaign, ‘No Dada, No Eden’ was started on Facebook. Isn’t Juhi apprehensive of a hostile reception in the City Of Joy? "We didn’t want to hurt or spite anyone. I hope Kolkata understands and accepts that. It’s not just Dada but a number of other players too whom we had to reluctantly let go of in the interests of the game and KKR," she reasons.
This year there are two new teams, Kochi Tuskers and Sahara Pune Warriors. Prod her on the increased competition with nine teams targetting the top honours, and Juhi exclaims, “It means many more matches and I can’t help thinking how exhausting it will be for the cricketers. But for us spectators it will add to the excitement as more of India enters the League. The cricket mania is going to get bigger,” she predicts. After four years, Juhi must know a lot about cricket?
She laughs, “You must be joking, usually I’m clueless about which team is playing in which part of the world. My kids, Janvi and Arjun, keep me informed and updated about the game. My interest only comes alive during the IPL.”