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Dangal stars hit arduous

Written by Mihir Vasavda
| New Delhi |

Updated: April 10, 2020 2:26:51 am

General picture of annual `Dangal’ at Kaimbwala village in Chandigarh on `Makersakranti’. (Express picture by Jaipal Singh/Files)

When he started the season by profitable the dangal in Kapurthala on March 18, Bania Amin was salivating on the prospect of one other worthwhile season. In the dangal universe, Amin is a showman past evaluate. His artwork and antics – he has a signature type whereas coming into and exiting the mud pit: spreading vast his legs and arms, and leaping excessive — is why 1000’s pay to look at him.

And it’s additionally why the constable from Jammu will get paid in lakhs in look charges from organisers throughout the nation.

“But on March 19, we were all told that the tournaments have been suspended. It looks like the entire season will be wiped out because of the current crisis,” Amin says. “So right now, I will not make at least Rs 30-35 lakh that I otherwise would.”

From arguably the largest sporting occasion, the Olympics, to probably the most globalised event, the Premier League, to an overwhelmingly rural sport like mud wrestling, the coronavirus outbreak has spared none. And just about just like the gamers and executives throughout the globe, the pehalwans have been counting their losses in the previous few weeks.

For a seemingly small sport, the economics of a dangal season is staggering, far outweighing plenty of mainstream occasions within the nation. The season is split in two: March, April and May — with a spillover into June — is when the tournaments happen in Himachal Pradesh and Maharashtra. After a break in July, one other three-month season will get underway in Punjab.

General picture of annual `Dangal’ at Kaimbwala village in Chandigarh on `Makersakranti’. (Express picture by Jaipal Singh/Files)

There are a couple of tournaments held elsewhere within the nation which overlap with these, however these three most dominant belts have probably the most packed calendars. According to Kulbir Kainour, a dangal commentator and observer, there have been round 250 dangals scheduled to happen in Himachal Pradesh, the place the season had simply begun when the lockdown was introduced. An analogous variety of occasions have been to happen throughout Maharashtra, Arjuna Awardee Kaka Pawar provides.

All these tournaments, roughly 500 of them, are prone to be cancelled. The dozen or so which have been scheduled for Wednesday alone, to mark Hanuman Jayanti, too weren’t held as a result of nationwide lockdown.

General picture of annual `Dangal’ at Kaimbwala village in Chandigarh on `Makersakranti’. (Express picture by Jaipal Singh/Files)

“On an average, each of the 250-300 dangals have a total purse of around Rs 5 lakh. The minimum prize money at each dangal is Rs 2 lakh, with the maximum going up to Rs 7 lakh. So you can do the math,” Kainour says.

A conservative estimate of the dangal, tallying occasions in each Himachal and Maharashtra, could be roughly Rs 25 crore. This is simply the money prize. There are different rewards as effectively: tractors, vehicles, bikes and milch buffaloes.

“Each wrestler is guaranteed a participation fee,” says Rajnish Kumar ‘Bitta’, an organising committee member of one among India’s greatest dangals, held in Himachal’s Kangra district. The season-ending occasion, held over three days, presents prize cash of near Rs 1 crore. “There are few corporate sponsors. Mostly, it is the locals who contribute so it is not like the organisers are losing money. In fact, they are saving. The wrestlers, though, will be badly hit.”

Like Amin. The 31-year-old’s solely common revenue is as a constable with Jammu & Kashmir Police. During the dangal season, he fights for nearly 25 days in a month, incomes 1000’s in look charges. This week, Amin was to struggle at back-to-back dangals in Hamirpur on Thursday and Friday, earlier than taking a flight to Pune on Saturday for an occasion there.

General picture of annual `Dangal’ at Kaimbwala village in Chandigarh on `Makersakranti’. (Express picture by Jaipal Singh/Files)

Amin is among the wrestlers who’s in demand in all places. But he isn’t the largest, or the perfect, within the enterprise. That title is reserved for Jaskanwar Singh Gill, alias Jassa Patti, who is taken into account to be the perfect pound-for-pound mud wrestler of his era.

Gill who competes in fewer occasions than Amin estimates that he might be bereft of near Rs 25 lakh this yr. But he’s extra involved about lower-rung wrestlers who don’t earn a lot and are from humble backgrounds. “We have something to fall back on. But a lot of wrestlers don’t have that luxury,” Gill says.

Amin and Gill spend near a lakh each month on their weight loss program. For majority of wrestlers, to maintain that might be powerful in absence of tournaments. “Unlike Olympic-style wrestling, the dangal pehalwans do not receive government support. So a lot of them end up investing half of their earnings in their food and supplements,” Pawar says.

Because of the sheer nature of the game, it’s extremely unbelievable that tournaments might be held till full normalcy is restored. There is hope that the Rs 1 crore dangal in Kangra could be held in June to salvage some a part of the season. But the organisers are additionally dealing with a singular dilemma. “After the bout, the tradition is for the wrestler to perform a lap of honour and accept prizes for the crowd,” Kainour says.

“The prize is usually cash. And in current atmosphere of social distancing, who will want to mingle with the crowd and accept cash from complete strangers?”

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