The Telegraph
Wednesday , April 3 , 2013
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SRK gives everything (itne paise mein itna hi hota hai, yaar)

He finally kept his promise last year after four failed attempts to win Calcutta the IPL trophy. This year he has already kept the promise of gifting Calcutta a “spectacular and never-seen-before” experience.

Shah Rukh Khan rocked the IPL opening ceremony at the Salt Lake stadium on Tuesday evening. Along with his Bollywood ladies Deepika Padukone and Katrina Kaif, the Kolkata Knight Riders boss gave Calcutta a night to remember. If only JLo had also made a “pit” stop.

This is all Shah Rukh ever wanted to do — “entertain Calcutta the only way he can”. After not being able to put up his brand of extravaganza in the previous years because of logistical difficulties, he finally turned on the heat on the eve of the sixth edition. “Thank you Mamatadi for allowing us to do this,” Shah Rukh announced moments after the Bengal chief minister had pressed a big red button to light up the gigantic electric lamp.

And you could see how desperate Shah Rukh was to give Calcutta a taste of the Badshah magic. Within his short stipulated time on stage, he went right back to Baazigar (Yeh kaali kaali aankhen) and Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (medley) and then jived to everything from Chammak challo to Main hoon don. Even Suhana watched Dad with her mouth wide open.

Of course Shah Rukh opened with Tagore — his recurring Calcutta tribute right through all the IPL seasons — reciting the poet’s lines from Gitanjali (Where the mind is without fear) on the voiceover as an anthemic version of Aguner poroshmoni with a thumping tribal beat had the whole stadium sit up. “He wanted to recite Rabindranath Tagore and asked me to create a track around his music,” said music director Pritam, who composed the song for the opening.

The IPL trophy swam in the April air — a lady hanging from a cluster of balloons holding it — and came and landed in the hands of KKR captain Gautam Gambhir who then lifted it and walked over to join the other team captains.

Besides the Bolly blitz, one of the highlights was the amazing medley of cheerleaders, flying drummers, gymnasts, rhythm acrobats, stilt-walkers and air-tumblers. Reminiscent of the legendary Cirque De Soleil shows in Vegas, it was easily something Calcutta had never seen before.

But what Calcutta couldn’t have enough of was Deepika and Katrina. They might have both been seen in Sid Mallya’s RCB colours in earlier IPLs, but on Tuesday night they were performing at “home”. While Deepika danced to songs from Cocktail, Katrina did the whole routine from Chikni Chameli to Sheila ki jawaani.

And after a brief black-and-white cameo by Usha Uthup and Bappi Lahiri — she wore black, he wore white, both wore a lot of gold — Pitbull, billed by SRK as “the greatest musician in the world right now”, took the stage. First a short stint for the TV show and then an extra half an hour for the live crowds. The people in the stands started making their way out while only some of the audiences on the ground could identify a couple of his more famous songs — Give Me Everything and I Know You Want Me.

Just imagine what a Jennifer Lopez could have done with her oomph and awaaz on stage. You have to agree that Pitbull despite his looks — Bruce Willis meets Herschelle Gibbs — was a poor substitute. How one wishes JLo had agreed to cut down her squad to just one planeload and fitted the budget for the Salt Lake stadium gala.

SRK’s glib tongue did not fail to take a dig at matters budgetary. “IPL ke itne paise mein itna hi hota hai, yaar,” he was to say moments after his short-but-electric act.

Calcutta did go back happy. The last word to Shah Rukh of course: “Hope the happiness spreads to West Bengal and to the rest of India.”

First, it must spread from Salt Lake stadium to Eden Gardens.

Knights, the game is on.


Message from Gautam Gambhir, the captain of Kolkata Knight Riders, for fans on the eve of the first match of IPL Season VI. KKR take on Delhi Daredevils on Wednesday at Eden Gardens

Being the captain of the Kolkata Knight Riders is an honour, and captaining it as the IPL champions gives me a real feeling of pride.

There is a better sense of belonging when you give something back to the city, to the fans who have given you so much love.

At the same time, there is a lot of pride attached to this feeling. It was an amazing feeling to see how each one of my teammates contributed, and how some of them grew into their roles — from Manoj Tiwary to Yusuf Pathan; Brett Lee to Sunil Narine; Iqbal Abdulla, Rajat Bhatia, Manvinder Bisla, Lakshmipathy Balaji, Debabrata Das and Laxmi Ratan Shukla; the support staff Wasimbhai (Akram), Trevor Bayliss, Vijaybhai (Dahiya), and (A.R.) Srikkanth. I think the KKR dressing room is more assured now.

We go in as champions this year, but we should remember that, well, success in sport is a beast. The more it is fed, the more it demands. So, what happened last year is history, and we need to start afresh. We need to raise the bar and hopefully better our last year’s show. To that end, preparations have been good this time, and everyone has been on their game. I am also coming back from an illness and getting a grip on the conditions and demands from my own game.

Eden Gardens feels like a different place altogether now, because we are back at our home ground as champions. One thing that will never change is the love and support we get from our fans here.

Whatever be the sport, whatever be the team, if you have Calcutta behind you, you are always assured of a great time. I don’t think I need to urge them to support us as they are always and have always been there for us.

Dear Gautam, Shah Rukh and Coach Bayliss,

Thank you on behalf of KKR fans for bringing so many smiles to our faces by winning the IPL trophy 2012.

This season, too, we want KKR as a team to perform consistently and win the trophy for us. Again. It is a request that the team must be organised properly.

The team should play competitive cricket throughout. Finally, THANKS ONCE AGAIN to Shah Rukh Khan, who has gifted us such a team. I hope he waves and flashes his sexy smiles that can thrill his fans throughout IPL-6.

Tanmoy Kar, Lake Gardens
(A reader of The Telegraph and a KKR supporter)