New Delhi: In a break from tradition, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee did not speak during the opening ceremony of Indian Premier League in Kolkata on Tuesday. Neither did she issue instructions to Shah Rukh Khan and his team the way she had when the Kolkata Knight Riders won the previous season of IPL and celebrated at the Eden Gardens.
But West Bengal's newly appointed brand ambassador, actor Shah Rukh Khan, dominated the night with a repertoire of dance moves done and dusted several times at earlier Bollywood award ceremonies at home and abroad. The opening night was nothing to write home about.
Khan, who is now beginning to show his age, 47, was literally everywhere. Though he looked tired, his energy was unmatched, as it usually is when it comes to live performances. He recited Rabindranath Tagore's 'Where the mind without fear' and danced to Gangnam style. No problem with that, except that it has been done a million times around the world since South Korean K-pop singer Psy's chartbusting single went viral.
Hard core cricket fans have always frowned upon the IPL - the marriage between Bollywood and Cricket. Last night they scored a minor victory as Khan, Katrina Kaif and Deepika Padukone made the IPL opening act look like a run of the mill awards night.
As the camera panned Khan's wife Gauri, there was a markedly disinterested look on her face. The show started predictably with a dance performance on a Rabindra sangeet. The captains of the different teams were called on stage. A performer descended on stage hanging for dear life on a bunch of balloons and handed the winner's Trophy to the captain of last year's team, the serious Gautam Gambhir who looked so sombre one would think he's already lost a match.
The event should have ended there. But of course it didn't. Because the maximum TRPs had to be milked out of routine Bollywood song and dance.
Padukone danced to Honey Singh's Angrezi Beat and other peppy numbers from her film 'Cocktail'. Kaif made her entry on a garish golden chariot as 'Zara Zara Touch Me' from the film 'Race' played in the background. 'Race' was released way back in 2008, testimony to the planning that goes into performances at ceremonies such as these.
Her waving to the crowd did not match the song's beat. But why let a minor thing like that get in the way of entertainment, right?
She ditched the gold robe she came in for a small choli and harem pants and started dancing to 'Chikni Chameli', done to death ever since the song became a hit. The camera kept panning to her mid-riff at regular intervals. We get it. She has the fittest body in Bollywood right now.
Kaif and Padukone's performances were tired flashbacks of award shows earlier this year. Khan time travelled to 1998 and danced on hit numbers from 'Kuch Kuch Hota Hai', the film that catapulted him to stardom, lest we forget.
He danced for two minutes and then called two renowned 'international' artistes on stage - the beloved Bappi Lahiri and Usha Uthup. Bappida doled out popular numbers from the 80s with Uthup. The ones they have performed a million times at events ranging from Durga Puja functions to award ceremonies. Soon enough, Khan joined them back on stage to sing along.
Khan looked drained (perhaps because of the humidity) and the entire act seemed like it had been hurriedly put together.
Pitbull's act was next as he came on stage with his crew of bald men as Khan referred to him as "Mr Pitbull" (seriously!) and left him to perform his greatest hits like 'I'm Sexy and I know it'. The rapper was later joined by Padukone, Kaif and Khan for the final act. When Pitbull left after a rather uninspiring performance, the trio 'jumped' to 'Gangnam Style'.
At this point, one thought the cricketers would join them on stage and do the signature step - which would have truly made it a befitting grand finale - but they stayed at their seats looking bored and sleepy.
The extravaganza left us with a sense of déjà vu. Add Rekha and Karan Johar to the act and you would have a Filmfare night.