IPL 8: Hrithik, Anushka, Shahid Dazzle at Opening Ceremony Despite Rain and Other Dampeners

  | April 08, 2015 13:13 IST (Kolkata)

The image on the right was posted on Instagram by shahidkapoor

Hrithik's fiery act, Shahid's performance and Anushka's dance moves were the highlights of the show

The glitzy and technologically stunning opening gala of the eighth Indian Premier League (IPL) saw blockbuster Bollywood match steps with international cricket amid a replay of magical moments of the previous editions of the tournament.

However, there were also plenty of hiccups.

A lacklustre emcee, Saif Ali Khan, a few non-functional LED lights, Shahid Kapoor almost taking a tumble and Mumbai Indians skipper Rohit Sharma stepping on a light, were the low points of the show.

But Shahid's performance and Hrithik Roshan's emotional but fiery closing act were the highlights during the two-hour ceremony held before a sparse crowd of 15,000 people at the Salt Lake Stadium.

The first dampener came early in the evening in the form of heavy thundershowers that pushed back the ceremony by one and a half hours, but the crowd stuck to their seats waiting for the stars to perform.

As the audience waited for the star performers - Hrithik Roshan, Anushka Sharma and Shahid Kapoor - to light up the show, captains of the seven of the eight teams took the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) Spirit of Cricket pledge by signing a bat.

In the cool night air, Hrithik's fiery act against the backdrop of dazzling strobe lights and psychedelic floor projections stole the show.

The actor, who had given his maiden live performance, after his debut in Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai, at the very same venue, made sure the Kolkata crowd saw his best moves in his second show there.

His emotional but electrifying performance mirrored the euphoria of the audience.

The show started with a pitch black set, as dancers, clad in traditional Bengali white and red saris and holding clay lamps, tore through the darkness.

An aura of serenity prevailed as composer Pritam paid a choral tribute to Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore in an operatic rendition of his famous song Anandaloke Mangalaloke.

The graceful choreography was suitably balanced with an interlude of Swahili which whetted the spectators' appetite for more action.

They whistled, cheered and clapped thunderously as the suave Saif Ali Khan introduced the captains of the eight teams to the sounds of their teams' anthems.

The loudest cheers went up for Chennai Super Kings skipper MS Dhoni.

When Gautam Gambhir, the leading man of the defending champions, the Kolkata Knight Riders, came in, holding aloft the champions' trophy, the crowd went wild. The cricketer put the trophy back in play, in a symbolic gesture that set the ball rolling for the one-and-a-half-month competition on the 22-yard strip.

A synergy of peppy modern sounds, rhythms of traditional Bengali instruments, including the dhaak (drum) and strong acoustics, gave a feel of world music.

Shahid, who made a grand entrance atop a bike, in a bright orange sleeveless shirt and shiny golden dhoti with a trendy pair of shades, transported the audience into the promised "unforgettable" jamboree.

His shout to the crowd in Bengali "Kemon acho Kolkata" (how are you Kolkata?) was followed by his ride around the turf to the backdrop of Bappi Lahiri's cult disco-pop number I am a Disco Dancer.

The actor, who nearly tumbled in the beginning of his performance, aptly camouflaged his faux paus with his dance moves which were performed to the tunes of his songs Gandi Baat, Saree Ka Fall and Dhating Naach.

In between the live acts, host Saif Ali Khan made the audience participate in polls on their favourite IPL stars.

The team captains then signed a bat affirming their pledge to the MCC's spirit of cricket campaign.

Meanwhile, as Anushka Sharma grooved to popular numbers from her movies, her boyfriend Virat Kohli looked on eagerly. Clad in a black-white jumpsuit, her flawless steps had a classic appeal though she looked a bit nervous.

Bollywood melted into rock as the multi-talented Farhan Akhtar took to the stage with his band and pumped up the arena. Starting off with a poem from Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, Farhan and his band, dressed in casuals, captured the stage for eight minutes, strumming up some of his famous hits, including Rock On, Sindbad the Sailor and Senorita.

In contrast, Saif as a host was rather lacklustre and flat. But, after what seemed to be an agonising wait, a visibly happy Hrithik got the show back on track with some of his signature steps from his the superhit Ek Pal Ka Jeena from his debut film Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai. Sealing his Kolkata connect, the star, who met West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee during the day, was draped in a golden uttarya (stole) gifted by Ms Banerjee. His greetings to the audience in Bengali elicited loud cheers and shouts. The show concluded with fireworks as the stars united on stage and officially signalled the start of the series.

Listen to the latest songs, only on