The DLF IPL 5 is all set for a gala inauguration at the YMCA on Tuesday

T.S. Eliot wrote, “April is the cruellest month.” But cricket fans in the city wouldn't quite agree. Because, when it's April in Chennai, it's time for all things yellow and fun such as the blazing sun, juicy mangoes, beaming chrysanthemums and the city's pride, the Chennai Super Kings, who surface yet again in their bright yellow jerseys to take on the field amid a backdrop of euphoric fans. Of course, the on-pitch duels and run chases are nothing short of edge-of-the-seat entertainment, but there is something that is sure to be just as entertainingWe are talking about the inaugural event of DLF IPL 5 that's to take place on Tuesday evening at the YMCA.

Purists might pooh pooh the blend of entertainment and cricket, and term it a dilution of the game but other enthusiasts of the sport aren't complaining as long as they get a good match and some great shows by celebrities. This year's line-up for the inaugural show includes... hold your breath... Amitabh Bachchan, Salman Khan, Prabhu Deva, Kareena Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra, Colonial Cousins and international artiste Katy Perry. (Yes, she's the blue-haired diva we saw at the Grammys earlier this year.)

The programme commences at 7.30 p.m. and you don't want to be late because starting the order of events will be Bachchan Senior. “The opening ceremony will be an invocation to the game. I'll be reading out a poem written by Prasoon Joshi,” says Amitabh Bachchan, who arrived in the city on Sunday. The poem is about his passion for cricket and how in his next life he would want to be part of something related to cricket even if that means being a piece of glass broken by a cricket ball. Through this rendition, he echoes the sentiments of cricket lovers in the country.

Looking a tad fatigued, probably because of the flight, but still every bit regal in his grey pin-striped suit, Bachchan says, “I will also invite the team captains to pledge that they will play hard and fair. I'll also explain the pledge. It captures the spirit of the IPL.”

All the teams and all the players are his favourites, he says diplomatically, but because he lives in Mumbai his loyalty lies with the Mumbai Indians. And what's the wackiest thing he's done, while cheering his favourite team? “I usually watch the match on television at home. This time, I may go to the stadium. After our World Cup win, we drove on the streets waving all the while from the roof of the car,” he laughs.

Post the solemn start, it will be time for high voltage acts beginning with a Rock style performance by Priyanka Chopra. It will be followed by a sequence where Kareena will sway to her chartbusters such as ‘Chammak Challo' and her much talked-about mujra ‘Dil Mera Muft Ka' from “Agent Vinod.” Bollywood's stylish hulk Salman Khan will shake a leg to ‘Dhinkachika' among others, while homegrown hero and dancer Prabhu Deva will do what he does best in a segment spanning seven-and-a-half minutes. Prabhu Deva seems rather kicked about his first show at the IPL. He's been practising for nearly 10 days and is all set to enthral the audience with his 60-member dance crew. “Every year I watch the inauguration; this time, I am excited to be part of it. I am mostly dancing to music tracks and a mix of Tamil and Hindi songs. It's going to be fun and I hope people enjoy themselves,” he says. And is he nervous? “Yes a little, because this is my city and people expect a lot from me,” he smiles.

Apart from him and his performance, the other dances have been choreographed by Shiamak Davar and his dance troupe, and Mudassar Khan who has put together Salman and Kareena's moves.

Adding more verve to the evening will be 1st Project, a South African group, and DJ Ravi Drums from Los Angeles, who will jam with the Colonial Cousins. The musical Cousins will sing ‘Janabe Ali' from their new album “Once Again.”

The finale will see Katy Perry light up the stage with her trademark panache. She'll be performing for around 45 minutes during which she is expected to belt out some of her hits ranging from ‘California Gurls' to ‘Firework'. For more news about her, her hair colour and her act, you'll have to wait till tonight as the IPL organisers want to keep it a surprise and are tight-lipped about it. Fair enough!

Cricketer R. Ashwin of Chennai Super Kings says, “I would love to attend the opening ceremony but since we need to practise for the next day's match, everything depends on our schedule.” The spinner who is looking forward to all the stars arriving in Chennai, adds, “Being a Chennai-ite, I love this kind of recognition for my city and I think CSK has contributed its bit for the city.”

Given the magnitude of this year's concert, the organising committee chose not to club it with the match on the same day. “This technology-driven blockbuster line-up would be crammed if the match were to start at 8 p.m. the same day. So we thought why not give the spectators a separate day with an explosive two-and-a-half-hour concert. We chose this venue so the audience could be closer to the stage as opposed to the stadium where they are far from it,” says Sabbas Joseph, Director, Wizcraft International Entertainment. The venue has a capacity of around 8,000 and going by the ticket sales the organisers are looking at a full house.

FOR TICKETS

Tickets, priced at Rs. 500, Rs. 1, 500, Rs. 3,000, Rs. 5,000 and Rs. 8,000, can be purchased at the venue, MAC Stadium, select Coffee Day outlets, Landmark and online at bookmyshow.com

For details, log on to www.iplt20.com

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Priyadarshini PaitandyJune 28, 2012