Revolutionising the Sport of Arm Wrestling: Pro Panja League
The League is the vision of Pravin Dabas and Preeti Jhangiani to bring the sport of arm wrestling in limelight with the larger aim at health, wellness and fitness.
Parvin Dabas and Preeti Jhangiani have been directing, acting and producing films together. With the launch of their recent initiative Pro Panja League on February 29 in New Delhi, they’re now set to revolutionize the sport of arm wrestling. Pro Panja League is the vision of the power couple to bring the sport of arm wrestling in limelight with the larger aim at health, wellness and fitness.
In an interview with Everything Experiential and BW Applause, they discuss their plans for Pro Panja League, challenges that lie ahead, their acting careers and much more.
You organised the Pro Panja League’s first Ranking tournament in February, 2020. What was the idea behind launching the league?
Being a Haryanvi, I grew up in an environment where panja was considered the ultimate non-violent method of testing one’s strength. I have always been very passionate about sports and was a boxer, MMA player and an arm wrestler as well! I wished to re-introduce world-class athletes to the game of arm wrestling, which has its root in India and is celebrated all around the world professionally.
Also, Pro Panja League is a very inclusive platform. We have men, women, specially-abled participants. This is the first time specially-abled athletes are competing in the same tournament/league as their fellow athletes.
In the promo video of Pro Panja League we can spot you saying “hum certificates nahi baat te hum champions bnate hai.” Can you elaborate on the market need gap that triggered the idea of Pro Panja League?
There are institutions that award players with certificates and recognitions so the race becomes all about acquiring those certificates and not about excelling at the sport. We wanted to scrap this mentality out because it somewhere creates a stagnation. You go to an event, get the certificate but what next? We want to make every player the best at their sport and aim higher than acquiring certificates. With due respect to the institutions that provide certificates and recognitions to players, the aim is not to demonise them but to motivate players to take their sport to international levels.
Since arm wrestling is a contact sport, how was it impacted by the pandemic?
It definitely was impacted like every other contact sport. We cannot ask the players to arm wrestle in gloves because that won’t be a fair game. Now a few contact sports have resumed but we are still figuring out how to go head with Pro Panja League.
Staying fit especially in Covid times is challenging. Tell us some of your fitness tips.
Eating healthy is the most important. I would recommend giving up on wheat and rice because they add carbs to your body that you don’t want. Secondly, exercising is equally important. As most of us are not unable to go to the gyms, make your own equipment at your home but do not halt your workouts. Our players have been regularly sharing videos with us of their training routines. They’re created using all ropes and belts at home for training. We are happy to see that Covid did not take away their sporting spirit.
Many sporting events have taken the virtual route. How are you leveraging the digital platform for Pro Panja League?
We are currently waiting for permission from authorities to resume Pro Panja League. We haven’t thought much about taking a virtual route like other sports have done. We’re planning to organise the event in a small space with limited people and our players keeping in mind all precautions and government guidelines once we get permissions.
How has the support from the government been like? What do you think about it being included as an Olympic Sport?
We are grateful for all the support from Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju and Indian Arm Wrestling Federation. Kiren Rijiju also attended the first event of the Pro Panja League in February, 2020. He was astounded to see the enthusiasm of the participants and the huge number of players that came to the event. He said he never expected this amount of love for arm wrestling.
Parveen, you have always been a phenomenal actor and your role in recent series Hostages has been phenomenal. You are now coming up with a movie as a director. How did this transition come from being an actor to director?
It was not a transition I would say. The movie ‘Sahi Dhande Galat Bande’ was the first movie I produced and I wrote the script of the movie as well. After the script was sorted as I could connect with every detail of the story so well I thought I must direct it as well because why not!
Preeti, what challenges did you face initially as a producer?
Ironically I always used to say I never want to become a producer because it is quite a task! You have to manage every single thing by yourself and I never thought I was ready for it. But eventually, things happened I produced ‘Sahi Dhande Galat Bande’ and we started producing more films. Everything was unplanned.
Being life partners, how do you play roles as partners in production, direction of some great movies and even events like Pro Panja League?
It definitely is a great deal that we work together as we have that understanding of each other’s working styles and also us, as people. Interestingly what are the weaknesses of one are the strengths of the other. I am not a people’s person and Preeti is very good at handling people so yeah, that’s how we have each other’s back and working together is always fun!
You both are also coming up with a series on ‘Rapchick’ which is a new platform. Tell us about that.
Yes, we both are acting in the series. It’s about two people coming from a small town and eventually falling in love. There is humour in the story as well along with the love angle. Shooting for a few scenes is left but we’re expecting to pack it up soon and release it by November.
Around The World