The desi twist is just not hot enough — at least not at IPL4. The sari-clad cheerleaders of the Pune Warriors have failed to make an impact on the field.
For their debut at the IPL, the Sahara’s Pune team decided to take on traditional Indian dancers as cheerleaders. Called the Cheer Queens or the Bhartiya Nrityanganas, they wear costumes designed by Neeta Lulla and perform traditional dance moves based on Lavni and Bharatnatyam, choreographed by Tanushree Shankar and Ganesh Hegde.
None of that, however, seems to have worked and the girls are now a butt of jokes. “How can Bharatnatyam be a cheerleading step? They look like a spectacle,” tweeted Sushant Gupta. “I like Pune. They are making viewers watch the match instead of cheerleaders,” says signonpk. “The dancers are blah, even the TV cameras don’t really focus on them,” writes Neha.
Rival teams, too, feel the idea hasn’t hit home. “Cheerleaders are there to add to the spectacle of IPL, that’s why we stuck to the original cheerleaders,” says a spokesperson for the Royal Challengers Bangalore, which has cheerleaders from South Africa. “The whole idea of cheerleaders is to have high energy girls in short skirts cheering the team and the crowd,” says cricket presenter Gautam Bhimani.
However, there are some in favour of Pune’s experiment. “In time, people will realise it’s not just a novelty but real talent that’s on show for them,” says former cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu. “Here people are more interested in seeing skin show. It is high time that Indians earn in their country rather than paying foreigners,” argues choreographer of the Cheer Queens, Ganesh Hegde.
While the Pune Cheer Queens who are from choreographer Ganesh Hegde’s dance troupe, are performing free of cost, as he says, it’s the foreign cheerleaders who are raking in the moolah. As per sources, payment for each performance goes up to $200 (Rs 9,000). Besides this, the girls have been put up in five-star hotels and are enjoying luxuries.