‘Panja is a non-violent way of testing one’s strength’

 ‘Panja is a non-violent way of testing one’s strength’

In an interview with www.lifeandmore.in, actor PREETI JHANGIANI tells Saurabh Tankha as to how she and her actor-husband PARVIN DABBAS went about organising the first-ever Pro Panja League

Panja ladayega? (ready for arm wrestling?)” — the image of yesteryear comedienne Tuntun sitting on a cot and posing this question to tragedy king Dilip Kumar is still as fresh as a daisy in my memory. I must have seen this B&W movie (I don’t remember the name though) over three-and-a-half decades back but the inimitable manner in which a super-confident, super-fat Tuntun offers to arm wrestle a thin, shy and timid Dilip Kumar is something I can never forget. That must have been the first instance of my hearing the words, panja ladeyaga. I had asked my dad about it and he had explained it by giving me a physical demo in which he, as all other dads would do, lost comfortably.

Cut to 2020. On hearing that a Pro Panja League (PPL) was being organised, I sat up. A tournament on arm wrestling, that’s great news! And then this panja had a Hindi cinema connect too. It was being organised by Swen Entertainment Pvt Ltd, headed by actors Parvin Dabas and Preeti Jhangiani. Incidentally, I have been one of Preeti’s many FB friends but we had never interacted before this. So, I sent her a message and the reply was sooner than expected. She agreed immediately to answer a few questions regarding PPL for www.lifeandmore.in. Here they are…

When did the idea of getting into Pro Panja League strike?
Pro Panja League (PPL) is something we (Parvin and I) have been working on for the past four years. Parvin is behind its conceptualisation and ideation. He grew up with arm wrestling around him. It became bigger due to Sylvester Stallone’s movie, Over The Top, which was pathbreaking for the sport. What appealed to him most was that it is a non-violent way of testing one’s strength. Parvin truly believes it is a sport for the masses and has been waiting to be reintroduced to people. The idea of the PPL is to promote a sport that has had roots in our country for ages and is being played professionally the world over. Even in India, we have world-class athletes. PPL will provide a big stage for them and the sport in India. There were six weight categories for men (60 kg, 70kg, 80 kg, 90 kg, 100 kg and 100 plus kg) and two weight categories for women (65 kg and below and plus 65 kg) and of course, the specially abled category.

How did you go about organising a national level sporting event, involving the World Arm Wrestling Federation, getting in players etc?
It wasn’t easy organising a tournament at the national level! We tied up with the Indian Arm Wrestling Federation first which was a long procedure in itself and then proceeded to conceptualise and put together this event. The players and the IAF were very excited once we got them on board because nothing on this level had ever been thought of for Panja! The players train and work very, very hard just like at any other sport. This kind of exposure could be life-changing for the sport and ultimately them! What we did in Delhi on February 29 at the Thyagaraja Stadium was the soft launch of Pro Panja League and the ranking tournament 2020 in which the players were ranked and the top players emerged.

Are the participants all professionals or are there amateurs too?
The participants were a mix of professionals and amateurs. We allowed walk-ins too for this tournament as it was a ranking tournament. But from the next tournament onwards, there will only be ranked athletes.

For the first time, specially abled athletes competed in the same tournament/ league as their fellow athletes at PPL. Your comments.
This was a completely non-negotiable thing for us. We were very keen that the specially abled participants be given the same platform, the same contract and the same prize money as other athletes at PPL, and we made sure it happened.

How was the experience of organising an event of this scale?
It is never easy to organise something at the national level without crossing barriers. Still all in all mostly everyone was very supportive including the Delhi Police and the government regarding permissions etc.

Any particular reason for choosing Delhi over your hometown, Mumbai?
The reason to do this event in Delhi was simply the space that Thyagaraja Stadium provided, and the ease and connectivity for the athletes.

There must be a plan in place for future. Where do you see Pro Panja League in 10 years from now?
Now, 12 Indian cities will host the Pro Panja National League in the coming months and the winner of the PPL will score a direct entry into the national league. We plan to do the nationals for two years and then move on to the Asian and thereafter, to the world arm wrestling stage and maybe even branch out into the franchise team format league.

You hosted the event too. Looking forward to it?
It was an amazing experience hosting this event with famous standup comedian Khyali. The crowds loves him! Parvin and I both felt that I should host the event as the idea has been with us for years and so close to our hearts and I could share that passion with the audience.

Swen Entertainment Pvt Ltd is a multi-service media production house which creates films, TV ads, is into event production and coordination and music videos. Is this the first time that you will be diversifying into another field?
We already have the biggest online MMA website in the country, The MMA India Show. We also run The Sports India Show and The Fitness India Show. We produce films, short films, docu-dramas, ad films and also run the MONSOON WEDDING CHANNEL. This is the first time that we promoted a single sport on this scale so we plan to make Swen which stands for South West East North an all-round entertainment company.

So, will we be seeing Preeti and Parvin on the sporting field from now on and not on the silver screen, especially when the two of you are such talented actors?
We are primarily and at heart actors! We will always remain actors and will always be hungry for meaty roles, be it web or films! Parvin just had the acclaimed Hostages on Hotstar and will be directing a big film in the near future. I am, at present, looking forward to the release of our web show, Made For Each Other, which both of us are acting and will be judging a dance reality show as well. We were very thankful and proud to have to Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports Kiren Rijiju and Olympic boxing champion Vijender Singh inaugurate the event. To have the first ever Panja League with such big personalities was a great, great start!!



News, Lifestyle & Entertainment stories - all at one place

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: