Kolkata, June 3 :
The worlds of Bollywood, cricket and politics came together in a lavish ceremony as the winners of the 2014 Indian Premier League, the Kolkata Knight Riders and team owners Shah Rukh Khan and Juhi Chawla received a regal reception amid thunderous applause at the packed Eden Gardens here Tuesday.
Amid heightened security cover, the stadium’s green turf was deluged in a sea of purple as nearly 30,000 fans, decked up in sports merchandise, waiting with bated breath since early Tuesday morning, erupted in joy to get a glimpse of the players flanked by SRK, Chawla and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
The gala affair on a 64ftX32ft dais was nothing short of a major Bollywood event. Confetti rained down across the stadium as Banerjee entered the stadium.
Nearly three hours late for the celebration due to a technical snag in his flight, King Khan’s arrival drew tumultuous applause.
Dressed smartly in a white KKR jersey, a ponytailed SRK cut a giant cake-in the shape of a stadium iced with the words KKR and the letter ‘B’ in Bengali to represent the Biswa Bangla Brand-accompanied by Chawla, KKR skipper Gautam Gambhir and Banerjee.
The splendid affair – jointly organised by the state government, Kolkata Police, Kolkata Municipal Corporation and the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) – was attended by a number of state ministers, former cricketers and other sports personalities and cultural icons from the state.
Stars from the Bengali film industry, including actors Prosenjit, Soham and actresses Srabonti and June Maliah, upped the glam quotient as a packed-to-the-brim Eden Gardens watched.
Bollywood singers Usha Uthup and Anik Dhar belted out a steady stream of chart-toppers as the crowd joined in and matched steps. A troupe of dhaakis (drummers) and tribal dancers added to the frenzied atmosphere.
The crowd soaked in earthy tunes of Bengali folk rock songs by Bangla band Bhoomi as slogans of “Ab Ki Baar KKR” and renditions of team anthem “Korbo Lorbo Jeetbo” reverberated across the arena.
The Knights, along with Chawla went for victory laps in seven open jeeps, holding aloft the golden IPL trophy with fans yelling the names of players Yusuf Pathan, Jacques Kallis, Gautam Gambhir and the rest, as the caravan passed on.
CAB chief Jagmohan Dalmiya felicitated each of the players, in addition to team owners Chawla and husband Jay Mehta. This was followed by Kolkata Police Commissioner Surajit Kar Paurkayastha and celebs handing over mementoes, uttariyas and trays of Alphonso mangoes to the team.
Earlier in the day, a stampede-like situation broke out on the fringes of the Eden Gardens as die-hard fans clambered over police barricades to gain entry into the arena.
Police had to resort to a mild lathi charge to control the crowd as mounted police personnel and Rapid Action Force (RAF) struggled to control the situation.
Though entry was made free, passes distributed were far less. This resulted in utter chaos with KKR followers breaking through the barriers and running wildly through them, bypassing the police cover to grab a seat in the stadium.
Several women and children were injured or left behind in the rush.