Traditionally, opening ceremonies are associated with multi-discipline games held at four-year intervals. The football World Cup was a late entrant to the idea and now even they have shows bookending the first and last matches. So, having one to announce the start of another Indian Premier League (IPL) season seemed par for the course when it began a decade ago. (FULL IPL 2017 COVERAGE)
But trust the IPL to take things to another level: opening ceremonies 10 games into the competition as it happened at Eden Gardens on Thursday would certainly qualify as a novelty.
Problem is: it tends to become more of the same. Like elsewhere, the ingredients for the main course were a string of Hindi film songs, the odd old number sitting pretty among a slew of new ones, a singer and a young film star.
The programme, held ahead of the IPL 2017 clash between Kolkata Knight Riders and Kings XI Punjab, lasted around the time it takes to bowl four IPL overs and to pack a number of things in that time slot means a mélange of images, loud music but little by way of takeaways.
It seemed like a television commercial that didn’t stick. No Danny Boyle special here, for sure.
It started with the Shillong Chamber Choir who began “We shall overcome” but not from the beginning. “Oh, deep in my heart,” rang out and echoed around the Eden that was, according to eye estimates, only a third full.
Around the choir and in step with them, ‘Chhau’ dancers performed. Before that could sink in, Monali Thakur sashayed on to the stage singing “Sawar Lu..” followed by “Tu Ne Maari Entriyaan” before being carried away in the arms of a dancer.
Gautam Gambhir and Glenn Maxwell, the two captains for tonight’s game, were then called on to the stage and they flanked the IPL trophy.
They made the short journey from the boundary line to the dais on golf carts accompanied by Chhau and Bhangra beats, respectively. This followed a short film about KKR, one that summed up their journey from black to purple, from gloom to glory.
And then, it was time for SRK to take over. Not the one who owns the Knights, but Shraddha Kapoor, with father Shakti in attendance and clapping from the stands.
Her synchronised moves to songs included mostly new ones with the Remo Fernandes hit of the 1990s “Humma, Humma” not looking incongruous among them. By 7pm, it was time for cricket to take over. The Eden had started filling up, clearly suggesting where its priorities lay.