Come November 13, and all eyes would be on the 22 yards at Eden Gardens. But there's off-pitch action aplenty, both before and after the India-Pakistan match, to ensure that the winner this winter is camaraderie in Calcutta.
First up is the launch of Sourav's: The Food Pavilion, on Thursday afternoon by members of Team Pakistan. If food sets just the right taste for the Eden test, there's another subcontinental obsession to follow ' films.
Playing perfect hosts, BCCI has arranged a tour of select city spots, a special evening screening of the all-colour Mughal-e-Azam (picture right) at the 89 Cinemas cineplex adjacent to Swabhumi, followed by dinner ' all on Thursday.
'We are inviting the entire Pakistani delegation for the screening,' said CEO of 89 Cinemas Debashis Ghosal. The epic love story of Prince Salim and Anarkali, now digitised and Dolby, releases throughout the country on Friday, but the guests would get a glimpse the evening before.
Bollywood new carries the camaraderie torch one step forward this festive Friday with the release of Veer-Zaara, where Indian Shah Rukh Khan falls in love with Pakistani Preity Zinta as director Yash Chopra hopes to script a celluloid epic inspired by 'the love and brotherhood' he encountered beyond the border.
Keeping fans, senior Pakistan Cricket Board members and government officials in the right rhythm on Friday evening would be percussionist Bikram Ghosh and singer Babul Supriyo at Taj Bengal. The Alipore hotel has added Id elements to its menu for the star guests and more festive plans are ready to roll.
In the galleries, handle with care is the message from Calcutta Police. An elaborate plan has been chalked out to provide a hassle-free sporting experience to the 200-odd Pakistan fans cheering from the Members' stands.
'We can assure them that Calcutta will reciprocate the gesture that Pakistanis showed during the Indian team's visit,' was the word from Sanjay Mukherjee, deputy commissioner of police, headquarters. 'We want them to fall in love with Calcutta,' he added.
The bonds go beyond the Eden boundaries with a cultural programme by Pakistani artistes next week. On November 19, Rabindra Sadan would host Pakistani danseuse Sheema Kermani (who studied dance in India) with her troupe Tehrik-e-Nisswan. Pakistan's Interactive Resource Centre will then put up a play by Md. Waseem. Organised jointly by Pakistan-India Peoples' Forum for Peace and Democracy and Prabha Khaitan Foundation, the event is billed as a 'breakthrough' in cultural ties.
'The confluence of cricket and culture is a happy coincidence,' feels Prabha Khaitan Foundation's Sundeep Bhutoria about the visit of the 40-member team that has a Santiniketan stopover, too.