Bollinger's evening to remember

The function to mark the Opening Ceremony of this year's IPL is certainly one that Doug Bollinger isn't going to forget in a hurry. After the fast bowler gives batting lessons to American singer Katy Perry (!), he is duly rewarded with a peck on the cheek. Poor Dougie finds it hard to shrug off the dazed feeling. By Arun Venugopal.

Ah! there it comes; another year of the IPL and another attempt at making the Opening Ceremony an unqualified success. A eureka moment is what the organisers seek and they think it's arrived. The function, planned as an event independent of the opening match, is conducted a day before the Mumbai Indians-Chennai Super Kings clash in Chennai. While promises of novelty and grandeur abound, what emerges is another version of the Bollywood song-and-dance routine.

Legendary actor Amitabh Bachchan is his stately self, reciting a poem on the glory of cricket. What follows this is an exhibition of the grooving potential of Priyanka Chopra, Kareena Kapoor, Salman Khan and Prabhu Deva. Meanwhile, the television presenters indulge themselves in round after round of hyperbole-hurling.

But whatever the evening may or may not be, it is certainly one that Doug Bollinger isn't going to forget in a hurry. After the fast bowler gives batting lessons to American singer Katy Perry (!), he is duly rewarded with a peck on the cheek. Poor Dougie finds it hard to shrug off the dazed feeling.

The media hacks are nowhere near as lucky. In fact, with no media enclosure in sight and no internet access in the venue, there is collective rage as they struggle to meet deadlines. “Why are we even here?” is their relentless murmur.

Don't bleed blue!

The IPL is promoted as, among other things, a most ‘colourful' extravaganza. Inappropriate, it isn't entirely as various hues — in the form of Bollywood, cheerleaders, and loud music — are consciously thrown into the mix. What is the odd one out then? Team jerseys. A monochromatic monotonousness seems to have gripped the franchises this season and the colour of their obsession — blue. As many as five teams — Rajasthan Royals, Mumbai Indians, Pune Warriors, Delhi Daredevils and Deccan Chargers — are attired in different shades of blue. Two other sides, Royal Challengers Bangalore and Kings XI Punjab, have gone for red. Chennai Super Kings stands out with its bright yellow while the knights of Kolkata are nattily dressed in purple.

And, how much does superstition dictate the choice of colours? In 2010, it was rumoured that KKR owner Shah Rukh Khan replaced the black jerseys, which the team sported in the first two seasons, with purple to bring a change in fortunes. Going by some more rumours, Pune Warriors seems to have done something similar this year.

Interestingly, though, KKR finished at sixth place in 2010 but they did much better last year. So here's a question for you folks: does changing colours really bring about luck or is winning dependent on other unimportant stuff like team combination and performance?

The anti-climax

The inaugural clash of this year's IPL between Mumbai Indians and CSK, is welcomed with the familiar dose of euphoria in Chennai. There are hoots, chants, and piercing shrieks of joy — but only for a brief period. CSK's batting graph descends rapidly and the noise slowly starts fading out. The emcee tries to drum up excitement and appears to partially succeed.

The second period of the game is when things begin to get worse for those responsible for creating the ‘atmosphere'. With Mumbai cantering along towards a modest target, there is hardly any moment for the CSK cheerleaders to milk. The emcee tries to make his presence felt again.

“Chennai, are you ready?” he booms into his microphone. This time no one seems interested.

Opening ceremony, again

As if one opening ceremony wasn't enough, there is an encore within a few days.

The occasion is the inauguration of the Subrata Roy Sahara stadium in Pune — the new home of Pune Warriors. Most of the stars, that were part of the IPL night, are present during the celebration.

In addition, there are the likes of Vidya Balan, Jacqueline Fernandez and Bipasha Basu sashaying to various hit numbers. Some out-of-work actresses such as Preity Zinta, Neha Dhupia and Dia Mirza are also part of the glitterati. The irony of entertainment being typecast as Bollywood and vice-versa wasn't lost on Harsha Bhogle. The commentator and analyst wrote on his twitter page thus: “oh dear, another filmi start to the Pune game? Is popular culture getting narrower and narrower?” Here's hoping that we have seen the last of opening ceremonies: for this year, at least.