Much before the suave Charu Sharma became a nationally recognised face in Indian drawing rooms as a commentator, he had quite a reputation as a versatile sportsman himself - he's played first division cricket in Kolkata, tried his hand at rifle shooting and was a national junior champ in diving, going on to represent India at the 1982 Asian Games as a springboard diver. A known conservative and stickler for formality both on and off camera, his St Stephen's background and clipped manner have often been misunderstood for arrogance but proved his strongest advantage in the elitist quagmire of international cricket.
Which is why we were mystified why his most ambitious foray as a sports administrator would be in an IPL style league to promote something as desi as kabaddi. While most of the credit for convincing him goes to his brother-in-law Anand Mahindra (he's married to Anand's sister Anuja) who not only put everything together on a platter for Charu, he even got pals like Uday Kotak, Kishore Biyani and Ronnie Screwvala to bankroll the league as franchise owners. While we hear that even Abhishek Bachchan has jumped into the fray and picked up the Jaipur franchise, the biggest niggle for Charu is the cold shoulder the Bangalore franchise is getting from local corporates.
While his family is Bangalore-based and he himself is a former CEO of IPL franchise Bangalore Challengers, Charu shares a prickly relationship with the city's most influential businessman and his former boss, Vijay Mallya. While the official version after his sudden exit hinted at a resignation, Mahindra's brother-in-law has always believed he was sacked on Mallya's orders. It's a slight he never really forgave. On second thoughts, who needs Mallya anyways?