It was better than 1996 World Cup’s windswept show at the Eden Gardens, but Thursday’s World Cup 2011 opening ceremony at the Bangabandhu Stadium here tasted a bit like like overcooked biryani. What stood out was the intensity of emotion and the heartwarming manner in which the people took to the event.
As for the ceremony itself, it was good in parts and bland at times, but the less-impressive bits were easy to ignore in an arena packed with an estimated 25,000 cheering fans.
Twice that number waited outside, enjoying the two-hour programme that resembled a big-budget community cultural show. Bangladesh prime minister Sheikh Hasina kept her speech short and sweet before duly declaring the World Cup 2011 open. ICC president Sharad Pawar started in broken Bengali, but switched to English after only two lines.
An interesting laser beam show, with LED kites in participating teams’ colours, was the most appreciated item of the night till Runa Laila enthralled with her foot-tapping number ‘Dama-dam mast kalandar’ and Shankar, Ehsan and Loy got together to sing the immensely popular World Cup theme song ‘De ghuma ke’.
The cultural section show, where Indian, Sri Lankan and Bangladeshi artistes performed owed its lustre to thousands of schoolchildren in colourful attire who danced all evening even as Dhaka’s night sky was lit up from time to time by dazzling fireworks that formed an impressive backdrop to the show.
It had all the trappings of a super show but one wished it had been put together better.
The captains’ rickshaw ride was supposed to be one of the highlights of the show, but it failed to enthuse the spectators as the skippers were almost hidden under the colourful hoods that ought to have been kept folded in the first place.
It was a colossal waste of star power as 14 captains were made to stand like statues on the white, circular stage, but were given no other role to play in what essentially was their own function. They looked suitably bemused as Sonu Niigaam sang “Let’s go for glory”, the spirit of cricket song, and vanished before you could shout “one more”.
With opening ceremony tickets priced as high as Taka 1,000, 5,000 and 10,000, the spectators, who had to queue up for hours to get into the stadium, were treated to a rather short Bryan Adams live show.