‘’Rain or shine, the celebrations continue’’
– IPL 8 opening ceremony emcee Saif Ali Khan.
The Long Wait
As declared by the Chhote Nawab, the celebrations did continue for the gala Opening Nite of ‘India ka Tyohar’, although on a largely muted scale. Rain in Kolkata stole the thunder and pushed back the glittering ceremony by 1.5 hours. Hence when the show actually started, there were only tired faces around.
Youngster Priyanka Patra had gathered at the Salt Lake Stadium right from 7.30pm with her friends to catch a glimpse of her favourite dancer Hrithik Roshan. For the next 1.5 hours, all she could witness was the stadium turning damp and soggy with no assurance of the event even starting. A jaded Patra was beginning to lose hope when the announcement and the bright lights right before 9pm cheered her up.
Opening Nite finally begins at 9pm
With dancers attired in traditional red-and-white sari swaying to ‘Anandaloke Mangalaloke’, the much-awaited IPL 2015 Opening Nite got off to a start. It soon gave way to the Bollywood flavour of the show with Saif Ali Khan making his maiden entry as the IPL emcee.
The IPL Captains introduced
Saif Ali introduced the captains of the eight teams, amongst whom MS Dhoni, Virat Kohli and Gautam Gambhir were welcomed with deafening roar. The cricket part quickly over, it was finally the turn of the Bollywood biggies to liven up things.
Shahid Kapoor was the first of the Bollywood performers
Shahid Kapoor vroomed onto the stage on a Harley Davidson. Sure as the young girls screamed their lungs out, Shahid wasn’t in the best of form on the slippery stage. However, his introductory tribute to the popular Mithun Chakraborty number, ‘I am a disco dancer’ was what won over the Bengalees.
Anushka Sharma gets loud cheers
After a brief montage of past IPL winners, it was the turn of Anushka Sharma to mesmerize the crowd. As the Salt Lake Stadium went ‘Virat, Virat’, the India Test team captain’s better half gyrated to the tunes of her hits, ‘Chaar Kadam’ and ‘Jiya Re’. When the cameras captured a beaming Virat Kohli during Anushka’s performance, the Kolkata crowd went berserk!
Kolkata’s very own Dada makes an appearance
Only one man from the cricketing world can match the frenzy that Kolkata reserves for the Bollywood stars and that is none other than their very own ‘Dada’. Once Sourav Ganguly was shown sitting in the VIP Area, the joy of his countless fans knew no bounds!
Farhan Akhtar calls out to ‘Senorita’
The next performer was the ‘Rock On’ man Farhan Akhtar. The actor-cum-singer who sizzled on screen as Milkha Singh crooned to a medley of his hits and it was ‘Senorita’ where he came alive.
Hrithik Roshan – the showstopper
But the best was saved for the last! Hrithik Roshan came, he saw and he conquered the hearts of his Kolkata fans. Vibrant, energetic – Roshan absolutely set the stage on fire. Hrithik was clearly the showstopper of the evening and the saving grace of a ceremony that lost its sheen due to the rain.
From ‘Bang Bang’ to ‘Ek Pal Ka Jeena’ to ‘It’s Magic’, the dazzling Hrithik sent the crowd yearning for more. The Bollywood heartthrob who had performed in the City of Joy 15 years back, confessed that he ‘’always got the maximum love’’ from his Kolkata friends.
The hurried show came to an end at 10.30pm with many of the weary kids having fallen asleep by then. As the youngsters and families started trudging out, a breathtaking display of fireworks lightened up the sky over the Salt Lake Stadium.
The opener might have been a tad gloomy but the fireworks signalled that the IPL is going to take up the interest of the nation over the next six weeks.