The IPL Opening Nite

Ideally, this post should have been categorised as a sporting one. But since such a category doesn’t exist, and the event doesn’t really redeem itself as a sporting one, it’s easy to classify it as a music-and-dance post. If the IPL Opening Nite is any standard of the event that is to follow, I am going to avoid it like the plague. The reason? It was a deafening bore!

The actual proceedings did manage to start on time with a highly annoying performance by a group of three drummers, their names I cannot recollect right now. (Thank God for small mercies). One of them thought that Tarzan-like yodelling to the Chennai crowd would get them worked up. At one stage, he even appeared with a giant Swiss ball and most of us would have happily stuffed the ball into err… you know…. places, if we had the chance.

Then came a deafening percussion performance. And by deafening I mean not suitable for pregnant women, heart patients and your ears. At that stage, it seemed less like a cricket event and more like a rave party going bad. However, it must be noted here that the performance did have a plus side. There were four sculpted drummers performing (again, don’t ask for the names) and the saving grace was that if your ears couldn’t handle it, at least your eyes could. The Colonial Cousins were there, too. For all of us born in the early part of the 1980s, the Colonial Cousins were among artists like Alisha Chinai and Shaan who defined Indian ‘pop’. Never mind that some of the songs were awful. (What really was the point of Made In India?). And so Hariharan, who seemed to have left a comb behind, and Leslie Lewis, with red highlights in his hair, sang a song from their new album. Simply put, it was ho-hum. These guys set an incredibly high standard with Krishna and both are fantastic singers. Coming from them, this was a performance that made you go, “Huh?”

A solemn Amitabh Bachchan was the highlight of the first of only two segments that was related to cricket. He read a poem, a lovely one, written by Prasoon Joshi, which celebrated every single dimension of the game, and the dreams that come with it.

The second super performance of the day came from Prabhudeva and in his own way, he highlighted everything that was wrong with the Opening Nite. This was Chennai, for God’s sake. Would it have killed organisers Wizcraft to put together a show with Surya or Vikram (the latter is so bloody gorgeous)? As a person who lives in Mumbai and is forcefed Bollywood every day, it made me want to scream seeing Priyanka Chopra, Kareena Kapoor and Salman Khan do some nonsensical stuff and leave. Prabhudeva PERFORMED when he danced his heart out and in many ways, he just showed the over-rated Bollywood guys the figurative finger with his moves. When he danced to the music of Mukkala, it brought back memories of the days when as kids, we would flail our arms around wildly trying to dance like him in Mukkala or Urvasi. The third great performance of the evening came from Katy Perry, who sang, danced, kissed (Doug Bollinger, a safe peck on the cheek) and brought a young audience dancing to the front rows.

Just like nearly every award show made in India, the IPL Opening Nite wasn’t really for a live audience. It was meant for a wider television audience that recognises non-performing Bollywood actors and actresses. It’s an incredibly morphed view, because anyone who follows regional cinema knows that South Indian cinema, and that includes cinema from all the four states, scores high on entertainment and playing to the gallery. At the same time, they can also make amazingly complex and thought-provoking movies.

As I left the venue with ringing ears and headache, I just wish they had opened the floor to Tamil superstars and the real stars of the show – the cricketers.  Events like these are best watched with access to volume control and a fast forward button.

Moment of the night: All speakers, from Ravi Shastri to Amitabh Bachchan and BCCI President N Srinivasan were reading from a giant teleprompter put up in front of the stage. However, the audience only realised that a teleprompter was there when MP Rajiv Shukla, also the IPL Governing Council Chairman, began ‘reading’ his speech. The delivery would be comparable with a 12-year-old reciting an essay learnt by rote. I don’t think the guy even blinked. Guess he just missed the more ‘natural’ proceedings of the Parliament.

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