The eighth Indian Premier League (IPL) saw blockbuster Bollywood match steps with international cricket camaraderie amid a replay of magical moments of the previous editions of the tournament. Bollywood actor Saif Ali Khan Pataudi donned the host role for the evening . The star of the eveing show was Bollywood superstar Hrithik Roshan with his emotional but fiery closing act spared the blushes during the two-hour ceremony held before a sparse 15,000 crowd at the Salt Lake stadium. The first dampener came early in the evening in the form of heavy thundershowers that pushed back the ceremony by one and a half hours, but the crowd stuck to their seats waiting for the star acts.
As the audience waited for the star performers — Hrithik, Anushka Sharma and Shahid — to fire up the show, captains of the seven of the eight teams took the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) Spirit of Cricket pledge by signing a bat. In the cool night air, Hrithik’s fiery act against the backdrop of dazzling strobing lights and psychedelic floor projections stole the show. The actor, who had his maiden live act after his stellar debut in “Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai” at the very same venue, made sure the Kolkata crowd got to see his best moves in his second show here.
Crowds whistled, cheered and clapped thunderously as the suave Saif Ali Khan introduced the captains of the eight teams to the sounds of their team’s anthems. The loudest cheers went up for Chennai Super Kings skipper M.S. Dhoni. When defending champions Kolkata Knight Riders’ leading man Gautam Gambhir came in holding aloft the champions’ trophy, they went wild. Gambhir put the trophy back in play, in a symbolic gesture that set the ball rolling for the one-and-a-half-month competition on the 22-yard strip. A synergy of peppy modern sounds, rhythms of traditional Bengali instruments including the dhaak (drum) and strong acoustics gave a feel of world music and calm.
Shahid danced to his songs “Gandi Baat”, “Saree Ka Fall” and “Dhating Naach”. In between the live acts, compere Saif made the audience participate in polls on their favourite IPL stars while the floor projections changed and the multi-hued light beams roved on the crowd. The team captains then signed a bat affirming their pledge to the MCC’s spirit of cricket campaign.
RCB skipper Virat Kohli looked on eagerly, as his girlfriend and “NH 10” actress Anushka Sharma put up a captivating display of elegance with typical Bollywood moves on “PK” tracks, “Jiya Re”, “Mundiya Nu” and “Jasba”. Clad in a black-white jumpsuit, her flawless steps had a classic appeal .
Bollywood melted into rock as the multi-talented Farhan Akhtar took to the stage with his band and pumped up the arena. Starting off with a poem from “Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara” to the accompaniment of cricket visuals, Farhan and his band, dressed in casuals, took the stage for eight minutes in a neat rock ensemble, strumming up some of his hits including “Rock On”, “Sindbad the Sailor” and “Senorita”.
The show concluded with fireworks as the stars united on stage and officially signalled the start of the series.