Shah Rukh Khan is famously enamoured of children. So when he decided to bring the Mexican edutainment brand Kidzania to India, it did not come as a surprise. The brand, which will launch a theme park in April 2013, will be co-owned by Khan. The park will enable children to gain real-life experiences through role plays such as a chef, pilot, surgeon, lawyer and fire-fighter. “India is a young country and we need to focus on building a strong future. KidZania will try to build awareness among children through an experience that is hands-on, engaging, educational, and most importantly, fun,” says Khan.
For a long time, Bollywood actors have invested in film production houses, restaurant chains, clothing lines and cricket teams. Several stars now seem to be looking beyond the obvious. Like Khan, there are others who are willing to put their money into projects which are not confined to entertainment and luxury alone.
Khan’s co-star of many films, Juhi Chawla, has invested in an education website called Ubqool.com, which will help children plan their studies. Ajay Devgn has invested in a solar park in Gujarat, while Karisma Kapoor has opted for an online baby care portal, Babyoye.com. Shilpa Shetty has invested in a group buying site called GroupHomeBuyers.com, which offers deals on real estate and home loans, and plans to include furniture deals as well. Akshay Kumar, a martial arts buff, is using a part of his pay cheque to organise an annual competition to promote karate.
There are many reasons for celebrities stepping out of their comfort zones as far as money is concerned. While the thrill of doing something new is one, Chawla feels that age also plays a major role in the decision. Motherhood changed her perspective towards many things. “Launching this educational website was one such instance. I thought it would benefit all children, including mine,” she adds. A friend of Devgn says that the actor’s investment emerges from his long commitment to the environment. Devgn’s Juhu house and Karjat farmhouse, both in Mumbai, run on solar power.
Kapoor, a mother of two, came across Babyoye.com as a customer. The site’s co-founder and director Arunima Singhdeo says that Kapoor had offered many tips and was offered the chance to become a partner. “I want to share this service with other parents. I have put in my time and money but, most importantly, I’m putting my heart