Renowned Indian cricket administrator Amrit Mathur has brought to light a remarkable episode from IPL 2009 involving Bollywood superstar Akshay Kumar.
The long-standing connection between Bollywood and cricket is a well-established fact. Over the course of many decades, these two mammoth sources of entertainment in India have enthralled the nation’s audience, forging numerous collaborations. While the periods of the 1990s and 2000s were undeniably captivating, it was the advent of the Indian Premier League that truly propelled this collaboration to new heights. The infusion of Bollywood stars as franchise owners not only added razmataz to the upcoming extravaganza of T20 cricket but also catalyzed a profound intertwinement of the cricket and film industries.
However, in an unprecedented revelation that has never been previously disclosed, renowned Indian cricket administrator Amrit Mathur has brought to light a remarkable episode from 2009 involving superstar Akshay Kumar. This revelation details how Akshay made an extraordinary decision to relinquish his own highly-lucrative contract, thereby rescuing an IPL franchise from incurring losses.
Akshay joined the Delhi Capitals (formerly known as Daredevils) franchise during the IPL’s second edition. Amrit Mathur, who held the position of Chief Operating Officer for the franchise at that time, recalls how the team’s endeavor to bring Akshay on board did not yield the desired outcome. Regrettably, the franchise missed a valuable chance to enhance its brand through this association, resulting in financial setbacks for the Daredevils. In light of these challenges, the team had to resort to significant measures regarding Akshay’s contract in order to navigate through the turbulent circumstances they found themselves in.
“Akshay signed a three-year deal with Delhi Daredevils to shoot promotional films, attend meet and greet events and make appearances at corporate events… Apart from Kotla act (he performed daring stunts), nothing much happened because DD didn’t know how to leverage him. At the end of the season, during elaborate post-mortem held against backdrop of serious financial losses, DD decided to cancel or renegotiate the contract,” Mathur wrote in his autobiography ‘Pitchside: My Life in Indian Cricket‘ published by Westland Sport.
But the way out of the contract was more cumbersome than expected. While Akshay had been around in the film industry for 18 years, his career was at an all-time high with blockbusters such as Welcome, Bhool Bhulaiyaa, Namaste London and Heyy Baby in 2007 and Singh is Kinng in 2008 behind him. And although Tashan – released in the same year – failed to put the Box Office on fire, and films like De Dana Dan and Kambakht Ishq received lukewarm reactions equally, Akshay had a plethora of films lined up. With his star power soaring, it was evident that the Delhi Capitals’ endeavors to modify or amicably resolve Akshay’s contract were destined to be far from effortless.
“Akshay’s contract provided no exit; on the contrary, it gave him solid guarantees for a period of three years. DD’s lawyers approached Akshay’s staff, wanting to revisit the contract, but they made no headway. The (legally correct) response from his side was that contract didn’t factor in early termination and it has run its course with full monetary compensation,” Mathur, a former BCCI General Manager, recalled in his book.
“Seen from perspective of DD, Akshay’s multi-crore contract could be equated to a self-goal or hit-wicket dismissal. Considering the disastrous financial results and need for austerity, the star had become an avoidable expense. Knowing there was no legal lifeline available, DD appealed to Akshay for mercy.”
How Akshay Kumar reacted to the development
That being said, it was the generosity and the king-sized heart of the superstar that truly shone through. Akshay displayed remarkable accommodation upon being apprised of DD’s appeal and the challenging financial circumstances that had fallen upon the franchise. The team’s noteworthy performance as semifinalists in the inaugural IPL edition and their ascent to the top position in the table after the league stage the following year underscored their potential. Subsequently, Mathur took it upon himself to initiate contact with Akshay, and the outcome of this interaction left him pleasantly astonished.
“After the shot, we returned to his vanity van and I, very hesitantly, explained the reason for my visit and outlined DD’s financial troubles. No problem ji, he said in a sympathetic manner. If it’s not working, let’s close it’. I thought I hadn’t heard him right,” he added in his book.
“Seeing my confused look, he clarified slowly, ‘Isko khatam kar dete hain (let us end this)’. When I mumbled about the stringent contract clauses, he reassured me, ‘Koi baat nahin, main lawyer ko bol dunga (No problem, I will tell the lawyer).”