The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Shaky Maya to shut match door on SRK

Lucknow, Nov. 9: He may have stolen a few scenes from Deepa Sahi in Maya Memsaab, but Shah Rukh Khan will not be allowed to upstage Mayavati in Uttar Pradesh.

The Bollywood star’s invitation to Kanpur’s Green Park, where India plays Pakistan on Sunday, is likely to be cancelled because the chief minister wants to be the lone star on the big occasion, senior officials said.

Mayavati plans to be at the stadium to “encourage” the state’s budding sports talents but apparently dislikes competition herself.

Shah Rukh is known to turn up at big matches involving India — from Johannesburg to Mumbai — and steal part of the spotlight. Sources said he was keen on watching the Kanpur one-dayer and had been invited by his friend and Board of Control for Cricket in India official Rajiv Shukla.

The Uttar Pradesh Cricket Association today said it had written to the BCCI asking its officials “not to invite” the actor to the match, and that the national body had accepted its request.

“We can’t help it,” an association official said, admitting his unease with the decision. “The police have made it clear to us that it will be difficult to provide security to so many VIPs.”

That may be the official reason — governor T.V. Rajeswar will also be at the stadium as will be an assortment of state ministers — but Shah Rukh is the only VIP asked not to come.

The actor now plans to meet the cricketers in Lucknow a day later, the police willing. Shah Rukh was to come to Lucknow on Monday anyway to promote his film Om Shanti Om, but the authorities have not yet given permission.

“His fans will be difficult to control,” said an additional director-general of police who didn’t want to be quoted. “A wild crowd in Kanpur had confined Abhishek Bachchan and Rani Mukherjee in their hotel for six hours during a shoot in 2005.”

Shah Rukh may not get to watch the cricketers in action, but the cricketers had their fill of him this afternoon.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Robin Uthappa, Irfan Pathan, Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly — with the senior duo’s wives and children — watched Om Shanti Om at a Chandigarh multiplex on the day of its release.

For Mayavati, the visit to Green Park is politically a big occasion. She had earlier dismayed the state cricket association and sports lovers by deciding to demolish a small Lucknow stadium, used by trainees, to build a memorial to her mentor Kanshi Ram at the site.

She revoked the decision last month, realising it would be bad publicity, and now wants to show off her love of sport, officials said.

The district administration has made it clear that the match is all about Mayavati. First, it reportedly banned spectators from wearing anything black — even black socks — for fear someone might show the chief minister a “black flag”.

It quickly backtracked, but the authorities are now painting Green Park’s chairs, boundary-wall covers and the gates blue, not because it is the team colour but apparently because it is the colour of the Bahujan Samaj Party flag.

An enclosure has been built for Mayavati near the stadium’s “VIP gallery” at a cost of Rs 15 lakh.

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