Shah Rukh, Katrina, Deepika and Pitbull set the night alight at IPL opener in Kolkata
The ‘City of Joy’ opened its heart to the cricket world as a dazzling Bollywood-style opening ceremony kicked off the sixth edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) in Kolkata on Tuesday, with American rapper Pitbull and superstar Shah Rukh Khan stealing the limelight.
Kolkata on Tuesday let its hair down with SRK, Katrina Kaif and Deepika Padukone grooving to desi moves, leaving the healthy turnout at the Salt Lake Stadium enthralled.
The evening started with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee lighting the ceremonial lamp in the presence of a host of dignitaries, which included BCCI president N Srinivasan, vice-president Arun Jaitley, IPL chairman Rajeev Shukla, Cricket Association of Bengal president Jagmohan Dalmiya, besides the cricketers.
Khan, who is also the brand ambassador of the state besides being a co-owner of Kolkata Knight Riders, thanked Banerjee for her support and said, “I’ve always said our performances are in the periphery before the real show (cricket) begins.”
It was a flying female performer’s acrobatic descend on the dais with the trophy that stunned everybody. The performer handed the trophy to defending champions KKR’s skipper Gautam Gambhir.
All the captains beginning with Mahendra Singh Dhoni, skipper of the most successful franchise Chennai Super Kings, signed on the ICC Fair Play pledge.
Flaunting off her toned physique in a shimmery black halter and leather pants with knee-length boots, Padukone made an appearance on the stage from the cutout of her mask as she danced to the tunes of the ‘tumi ho tumi ho shakha’.
Shaking a leg to hits like ‘Sajday Mein’ and ‘Angrezi beat’ she enlivened the atmosphere by stepping up to a medley of ‘Yo Yo Honey Singh’ and ‘Tumhi Ho’ from the hit movie Cocktail.
Upping the glam quotient in a golden cape and headgear reminiscent of an Egyptian pharaoh, Katrina Kaif in her maiden performance in the city arrived grandly onto the ground, seated on an elevated moving platform.
She showcased fluidity through her movements to ‘Tera Hone Laga Hoon’ as SRK’s voice boomed ‘Jab Tak hai Jaan’s dialogues.
Audiences went wild as she stepped up to hits like ‘Sheila ki Jawani’, ‘Touch Me’ with a dash of ‘Burn it Up’ and ‘Masha Allah’ in a red harem and black blouse with pink trimming.
She concluded her stellar performance with Laavni steps and music syncd to ‘Chikni Chameli in a black ghagra with pink border.
The King Khan kept everybody waiting before making his entry after 45 minutes into the ceremony. Clad in a tightly-fitting biker suit and branded glares, Bollywood’s Badshah Khan kept around 50,000 spectators enthralled with a dance performance to his peppy hits.
SRK made a grand entry to the popular ‘main hoon don’ track with an American chopper for company promising a ‘great time’ and a ‘party’ as laser beams cut through the arena lit in fluorescent and blue.
He jived to ‘Tumse Milke’ with ‘Main Hoon Na’ booming through the number that saw him doing the signature Qawwali steps. “The IPL is not only about excitement, it brings the happiness wherever we go. I am not going to stop now but will continue to dance to the party,” Khan said while dancing to the tunes of ‘main hoon naa’, ‘kuch kuch hota hai’, and ‘baazigar’ among others.
Thanking West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and everyone associated with IPL, Khan broke out to a medley of ‘Koi Mil Gaya’ and ‘Ladki Badi anjaani Hai’ surrounded by a clutch of children in colourful gowns who lovingly kissed the superstar leaving bright pink lipstick marks.
Continuing the ‘party’, Khan grooved to Pitbull’s popular party anthem ‘Hotel Room’ that merged into rhythmic Afro beats of ‘Chammak Challo’.
Giving the mixed audience a dose of nostalgia SRK hit off to ‘Yeh Kaali Kaali aankhen’ and rounding it up with ‘Criminal’ as he meandered onto the ground.
Khan then invited veteran artists Bappi Lahiri and Usha Utthup, who added to the euphoria with yesteryear hit songs such as ‘hari om hari’ and ‘rambha ho’.
It reached a crescendo when the evening’s biggest attraction of them all, Pitbull, took to the stage. The 120,000 capacity football stadium transformed into a magical kaleidoscope of Rabindra Sangeet, Bollywood dance, songs and, above all, unfettered enthusiasm as the 2013 leg formally opened with all the nine team captains taking the ICC Spirit of Cricket Pledge, ‘Play hard, play fair’.
Flying drummers, Chinese percussionists, fireworks were the some of the other attractions that were on offer for the event.
After that a collection of balloons rose slowly and smoothly into the hot air above to the sound of drums, music and the cheers of people, with a performer carrying the winner’s trophy.
The 1 hour and 45 minute extravaganza, which was high on entertainment, have surely made the 60,000-plus turnout forget the controversial build up cash-rich T20 league.
The opening though, at times, appeared to have fallen short of the standards Khan had promised prior to the event.
Divided into six segments, the evening began with Khan doing a poetic rendition of popular Rabindra Sangeet Aguner Paroshmani with the popular poetry ‘Where the mind is without fear ” being played in the background.
As is the tournament’s wont, the build-up to this edition, too, had been blighted by controversies, but the gala opening has put to rest all apprehensions.