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Showtime folks!

It’s a form of the game designed to entertain and when that comes in a unique package – the Indian Premier League – can entertainers be far behind? Atreyo Mukhopadhyay finds out.

cricket Updated: Apr 18, 2008 02:31 IST
Atreyo Mukhopadhyay

It’s a form of the game designed to entertain and when that comes in a unique package – the Indian Premier League – can entertainers be far behind? The organisers have lined up an international army of charmers for the Bangalore chapter of the competition that kickstarts the show to be held over 44 days across eight cities.

The kings and queens of Bollywood will be around, some to jive and some as team owners. There will also be a sizeable number of professionals from the US, Holland, China and Malaysia to add colour and splendour to Friday’s mega opening.

Apart from hosting the inaugural match between Bangalore and Kolkata, the M. Chinnaswami Stadium will also become the stage for Shankar Ehsan Loy, girls who cheer the crack American Football outfit called Washington Red Skins and stilt dancers from Holland who have performed at the unveiling of Ajax Amsterdam’s new stadium.

Apart from that, informed noted impresario Venkat Vardhan, the likes of Katrina Kaif, Shilpa Shetty and Zayed Khan will rock the stage on various match days. The man behind the concerts of Rolling Stones and Sting in India said it was one of the biggest assignments of his career.

“We wanted something crisp and visually mesmerising, not just for the spectators at the ground but also for the TV viewers,” said Vardhan. “Given that this event has an international appeal, we had to come up with something different from the clichéd Bollywood stuff.”

He said the idea was to bring cricket and entertainment closer without trying to integrate them. “A player entertains in his own way but he can’t fit into that role completely. We had to look for professionals so that the combined energy of these people and the players make the event wholesome.”

This attempt has seen the arrival of 12 cheer girls who supported the Washington Red Skins to the national title in 2007. The biggest draw at the stadium on Thursday during rehearsal — completely overshadowing the presence of Rahul Dravid — these girls will root for his team in four matches before leaving on March 28.

Apart from song and dance, there will also be laser and trapeze shows and stunts based on acrobatics and gymnastics. There will be 250,000 watts of sound and 500,000 watts of light, so when this sonetlumiere starts at 6.30 pm, M. Chinnaswami Stadium will, in all likelihood, be the place to be for those interested in this unprecedented marriage of cricket and what’s not cricket.