At sundown on Sunday, Umesh Mahajan arrived at the Apollo Bunder waterfront with a bottle of champagne.
After 44 nights of watching the IPL matches at home, Mahajan and his friends decided to watch the final with a sense of ceremony. The Mumbai Indians fans were invited aboard a friend’s yacht fitted with a projector, large screen and satellite dish.
While IPL’s dirty laundry is threatening its future, it hasn’t dented the enthusiasm of cricket zealots, who poured into Navi Mumbai’s DY Patil stadium, and watering holes and multiplexes across the city, chanting feverishly for Mumbai and Sachin Tendulkar.
Sahil Sabnis, a software engineer from Shivaji Park, was headed to the stadium when he got a reliable tip that Tendulkar was expected back in the seminal game.
“After his injury (sustained during the semi-finals) he wasn’t expected to play today, but a friend saw him practising at Bandra-Kurla Complex yesterday. When Sachin plays, all controversies cease to matter,” said Sabnis, who had tickets for the showdown well in advance.
Those who couldn’t land tickets opted for a 3D feed at a multiplex instead. “It comes a close second to the thrill of watching the match live,” said Sumi Gandhi, a homemaker from Hill Road.
Devang Sampat, vice-president, Cinemax said occupancy in the opening weekend was a discouraging 15 per cent, moved to 50 per cent during the semi-finals and closed at 100 per cent on the final day.
At Palladium inside the High Street Phoenix mall, the Manchester United Café was prepping for a packed night. The franchise of one of the most successful football clubs in the world has screened all of this season’s IPL matches even though cricket is not its mainstay.
“In India, the business model cannot work on football as a theme – there are only 52 club matches annually, and we can’t escape cricket,” said Wasim Khan, marketing manager (food and beverage).
Blue Frog, a performance art venue, made an impromptu decision to screen the final at the club. While live music is the club’s mainstay, they saw perfect business sense in screening the final and honouring the home team, said a club representative.
Gutted that he couldn’t escape a wedding reception, Akshay Bhansal, a diamond merchant from Bandra, was en route to a south Mumbai hotel an hour ahead of the ceremony to ensure the hotel was screening the crucial game.
“I’m certain most of the guests will follow me out of the reception once the game is at its peak,” Bhansal said.