Some of the greatest sportsmen & women in India have come from Punjab. And that is because the state encourages sports and respects sportspersons. For those who are not aware, the Kila Raipur Sports Festival, popularly known as the Rural Olympics, is a popular tourist attraction as well, with several sports enthusiasts and foreigners coming to see the various Indian sports. The Rural Olympics is held annually (usually in the month of February) in Kila Raipur (20km from Ludhiana), in Punjab, India.
Thanks to the popularity of the sports festival, the village of Kila Raipur attracted the attention of Bollywood as well. Bollywood’s two major Khans – Aamir Khan and Salman Khan have shot in Kila Raipur for their respective films, both of which are based on the traditional Indian sport of wrestling.
During the Kila Raipur Sports Festival, competition is held for several rural sports, including wrestling, kabaddi, rope pulling, and more. Special breed of animals – bullocks, camels, dogs, mules also compete in competitive events.
It all started in 1933 when Philanthropist Inder Singh Grewal visualised an annual recreational meet where farmers from areas surrounding Kila Raipur could get together and test their physical endurance. The idea gave birth to Kila Raipur Sports festival, and over the years it has been nicknamed the “Rural Olympics”.
This sports festival may not have the glitz and mega-bucks that’s associated with some other sporting events in India, but it surely is big and attracts a big audience.
Aamir Khan was the first to shoot in Kila Raipur for ‘Dangal’. Recently, Salman Khan and and Anushka Sharma filmed at the rural stadium here (was provided for shooting free of charge). The village sarpanch revealed that they were more than happy to provide the stadium for shooting free of cost, as Kila Raipur was now a tourist destination for movies as well.
In return, the film shoot generated some employment for the locals as several men and women from nearby villages were recruited to cheer for the various ‘wrestling matches. As per the locals, they all were paid Rs.300-400 each to be among the ‘spectators’.
Several teenage female wrestlers were also recruited (from Moga, Ferozepur, Narangwal, Gujjarwal), and they were all obviously excited to be part of the film shoot.
Anushka shares ‘behind the scenes’ video on Instagram.
Movie poster put up by Anushka on Instagram:
Here are some more videos of Kila Raipur Sports Festival, Rural Olympics: