Cricket and movies are two obsessions that Indians can never get enough of. For 21-year-old Onkar Jadhav, though, when a choice came up to pursue one of the two as a career, he chose kabaddi instead.
Jadhav is currently plying his trade with U Mumba in the second edition of the Pro-Kabaddi League (PKL). However, a year ago Jadhav had three options before him. He played age-group cricket for Mumbai and also had in his hand the opportunity to act in a Marathi movie. But when the chance arose to play in the PKL, Jadhav chose kabaddi.
"I played cricket growing up. I have played in under-17 age-group tournaments, even played for Mumbai. Last year, through an acquaintance, I also got an opportunity to act in a Marathi movie," says Jadhav.
"At the time U Mumba were conducting a scouting tournament through their Future Stars programme. I thought I’ll participate in it and then choose my next career option,” he adds.
Jadhav won the player-of-the-tournament award in the Future Stars tournament and was immediately signed up by U Mumba.
"I weighed my options and felt kabaddi was my calling. My parents, who were kabaddi players themselves, are also happy and it all just fell into place," says Jadhav.
Jadhav grew up in a chawl in the Parel area of Mumbai. Like most children his age, he chose cricket as his first sport. Kabaddi, though, was the game of choice at home. "My father Vilas Jadhav has represented India while my mother has played kabaddi at the national level. They always wanted me to follow in their footsteps," Jadhav adds.
"I was playing cricket but I was not sure if I would be able to match the best. Same with acting where I did not know if I would do justice to it. Kabaddi on the other hand is in my blood and I decided to take the plunge."
"I had not even heard of PKL when I chose kabaddi as a profession. Now, I am only thinking about playing in front of the national audience," says Jadhav.