Long after many had written its epitaph, the IPL lives. Shedding the burgeoning burden of living up to its predecessor, it defies and grows with every edition. The world’s richest T20 league made another rousing start, the first notes of IPL-6 struck at the throbbing Salt Lake Stadium certainly louder in decibel and design.
If the IPL lives and grows in the moments it creates, the 90-minute opening ceremony did make many. It was not just bigger, glitzier and snazzier than the openers before it, but the city’s famous fans descended on the stadium to lend its unique fervour.
Like a good game of T20, it had a bit of everything, save a close finish. From the rendition of the Bard’s verseby Shah Rukh Khan himself to flying drummers and dancing girls swirling magically to heart-pounding music and rhythmic lights, one of them while dangling from a bunch of balloons, the show was a kaleidoscope that captured the essence of IPL as ‘cricketainment’.
And, of course, Bollywood was right there at the centre of it all. Superstar and KKR’s principal owner SRK was in the company of his two leading ladies, Deepika Padukone and Katrina Kaif, and soon after they set the stage on fire, Cuban-American Pitbull gave the show the rap and some international flavour.
His feet-tapping numbers were lapped up by the crowd of some 60,000, a huge chunk of which was made up of GenNow.
If the crowd erupted as SRK’s recorded voice filled the arena at the very onset with Tagore’s most famous verse from the Geetanjali —
“Where the mind is without fear…” — there was more to follow in Aaguner Parashmoni and Joyo Hok, which had 300 dancers swaying to the inspiring tunes in the backdrop of a Tagore image created with lights. The rest of the programme was mostly a heavy dose of high-decibel fare, though the violin butted in to bring a more soulful and solemn interlude as the nine skippers signed the ‘Spirit of Cricket’ pledge. A few of them struggled to scribble their signatures on the touchscreens, while some signed effortlessly.
Dancers flashing across the dais in unison, forming patterns on the ground and Bollywood beauties jiving sensually to hit numbers made the crowd go wild. So, if Katrina had the audience on its feet with Sheela ki Jawani and Chikni Chameli, Deepika had them drooling over with Tum hi ho bandhu.
While Deepika pranced energetically on stage, Katrina rolled in on a giant throne, wearing a glittering crown. She sizzled as she grooved to the music.
The loudest cheer, of course, was reserved for SRK who marked his presence with his trademark moves. Making a grand entry to the theme music of Don, the superstar looked dapper in a dark leather jacket and stylish shades. He was quick to thank “Mamata di” and the “City of Joy” for making the show possible. Soon enough, he was jiving to “Tume se mil ke dil ka jo haal..” and “Chammak challo”.
There was more in store for the audience as SRK turned the clock back to shake a leg to “Kaali kaali ankhen”. He then left the stage and spilled on to the turf to welcome Usha Uthup and Bappi Lahiri. The duo enthralled the audience with hits from the Seventies and Eighties.
And there was a sprinkling of cricket, too. KKR skipper Gautam Gambhir received the IPL trophy from a “flying fairy” who floated around the stadium strapped to a bunch of balloons.
3 Apr, 8:00 PM
Kolkata Knight Riders vs Delhi Daredevils Venue: Eden Gardens, Kolkata