Bollywood superstars Salman Khan, Kareena Kapoor and American pop sensation Katy Perry were the highlights of a lengthy opening ceremony of the fifth edition of the IPL, which failed to live up to its high expectations on Tuesday night despite the huge glamour quotient.
Although there was no dearth of star power with megastar Amitabh Bachchan, Priyanka Chopra, Prabhu Deva attending the opening nite, it still drew a lacklustre response from the nearly 15,000 spectators who had gathered at the YMCA College of Physical Education.
Even the attempts by the hosts to cheer up the crowd failed to enthuse the audience who were subjected to a typical Bollywood style entertainment but without much verve and spirit.
Amitabh, returning to work after two abdominal surgeries earlier this year, started the proceedings for the evening with a rendition of a poem ‘If I were to be born again’, written by renowned lyricist Prasoon Joshi.
The 69-year-old veteran actor with his baritone voice and inimitable style hit the right chords but the dance performance choreographed by Shiamak Davar at the background was a dampener.
The rendition started to the ceremony, which set the stage for the 54-day extravaganza featuring nine teams who would be locked in a battle for the next two months.
South African percussion band First Project, composer DJ Ravi Drums and Colonial Cousins then took the stage and churned out their brand of music.
Bollywood actress Priyanka Chopra then put her dancing shoes and performed to hit numbers from her films such as ‘Don’, ‘Don 2′ and ‘Kaminey’, which even saw India spinner Harbhajan Singh shaking a leg along with her.
India’s dancing sensation and Chennai’s own Prabhu Deva then burned the dance floor with his performance where he danced to songs from films such as ‘Wanted’ and ‘Hum Se Hai Muqablah’.
Two-time title winners, Chennai Super Kings then took the stage and Priyanka Chopra shared some light moments with the cricketers as she quizzed skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni and also taught Australian Doug Bollinger and Indian spinner R Ashwin some dancing steps.
The ‘Chammak Challo’ of the Tinsel town, Kareena Kapoor then performed her dance numbers from films such as ‘Ra One’ and the latest ‘Agent Vinod’.
The opening nite then saw the oath taking ceremony by the skippers of the nine teams, including retired Rahul Dravid and Australian Adam Gilchrist, as they signed the MCC Spirit of Cricket pledge.
Defending champions CSK skipper Dhoni placed the trophy back on the podium and BCCI president N Srinivasan and IPL chairman Rajiv Shukla then joined the players on stage.
“IPL has grown from strength to strength and has established itself as a premiere tournament. BCCI is extremely proud of this achievement. But who is the cause? First the commitment of the players both international and domestic, who participated in the event, the enthusiasm of the franchises and assistance of the supporting stuffs and the cricket fans in India and around the world have contributed to its great success. We expect IPL 5 to be no less,” Srinivasan said.
“We have not forgotten who played for us. The BCCI will give an one-time opportunity to cricketers who have graced Indian cricket — International cricketer as well as domestic cricketers who played from a long time.
“Over 185 players will be benefited from it and we will start the distribution from this year. It is a small thank you from us to those who have done yeoman service to Indian cricket,” he added.
Shukla then flagged off the fifth edition, saying: “It gives me a great pleasure to flag off the fifth edition of the DLF Indian Premier League, an arena where quality international and domestic cricketers take part in intense contest of strategy and skill. IPL is a platform where talent meets opportunity.”
Bollywood superstar Salman Khan then tried to set the stage ablaze with his ‘Dhinka Chika’ act from the film ‘Ready’, followed by performances to some foot-tapping numbers from ‘Body Guard’, ‘Wanted’, ‘Partner’ and ‘Jab Pyaar Kiya To Darna Kiya’ but his performance too lacked the punch.
After some Bollywood razzle-dazzle, Perry dished out a sumptuous musical treat and performed some of her superhits such as ‘fireworks’ and ‘California Girls’.
The singer, who had tied the knot with now estranged husband Russell Brand, in India in 2010, was the star attraction of the evening and her maiden performance in the country, rounded off the evening.
Dazzling fireworks lit up the evening sky as the ceremony which lasted about two and a half hours came to end.
The main action will start from Wednesday when defending champions Chennai Super Kings starts their campaign against Champions Leagues title holder Mumbai Indians in the tournament opener at the MA Chidambaram Stadium.