Sportainment Unlimited!

For sometime now, cricket has become a battle of anthems, celebrity-owners, and, promotional videos. Reams of paper have been dedicated to seeing which Bollywood actor has been roped in by which team, which singer is behind which anthem and who is choreographing whose promotional jig!

April 18, 2008 and the stage, oops stadium, was set. It was the opening ceremony of the IPL T20, the new cricket tournament, but if you didn’t know that, you wouldn’t have guessed. The opening ceremony wouldn’t give that away; it may as well have been one of the many film award functions.

So, the show began with the Bollywood musician trio of Shankar-Ehsaan- Loy performing to some of their hit songs. This was followed by a spectacular performance by cheerleaders from the National Football League, specially flown in from Washington by Vijay Mallya (Mallya also informed us that they would only perform when the Bangalore team plays). And the entertainment didn’t end here! There was enough entertainment on the cricket pitch too. A mind blowing innings by Brendom McCullum of the Kolkata Knight Riders(KKR), took the team’s score right up there to a 222! For the not-so-fond-of-cricket viewers, there were regular glimpses of Shahrukh Khan and Arjun Rampal, who played the role of unofficial cheerleaders, well.

Details of the match are needless to give, as not just Bangalore but any team would have a hard time chasing a 222 in just 120 balls! The high target coupled with a superb bowling-spell by the Kolkata team didn’t allow the match to last for long, RCB being all-out at a mere 83! KKR did live upto their anthem…. “Korbo Lorbo Jeetbo Re”

If this opening day of the IPL is anything to go by, two myths have been shattered. For one, the public cheers for its city-team as much as it does for the country, the fervour omniscient. It is the undying spirit of cricket which lives on.

Secondly, the fact that the timings of the match clash with TV serials doesn’t mean anything. The IPL provides enough tension, generates enough excitement, and showcases immense talent (on and off the pitch!) to give the Kyunkis and Kahaanis a run for their money. Perhaps, Ekta Kapoor would re-consider Smriti Iraani’s comeback guaranteeing a spurt in TRPs for her serial, and get in Ganguly! Afterall, its also K for Karamyudh!

People have loved to hate the film industry’s involvement in the game. A section of critics have a problem with the former, while others have issues about other sports being neglected. It is juvenile to have an issue with either. As for Bollywood being involved, why not? Why should two sources of entertainment not come together? And for other sports being neglected – well, its cricket where the money lies. Would companies be ready to advertise their brands at Rs.2 lakhs per ten seconds, if it were some other game, perhaps, hockey?

It is also quite ironical that Shahrukh Khan, who was once condemned for promoting his films, is an integral part of Indian cricket today. But, the IPL just shuts its naysayers up!

This carnival of cricket seems to have started off on a great note – showcasing an absolutely wonderful mix of sports and entertainment, which should guarantee enough excitement for the next 45 days! It is irrefutable that when Bollywood and cricket come together, there are bound to be fireworks. And fireworks there were!

Rohan Sandhu


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