Kolkata: A dazzling and extravagant ceremony combining Bollywood's glamour quotient and a medley of diverse cultures showcased by American rapper Pitbull and Tagore's compositions heralded the start of the sixth edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) here Tuesday.
Promising a "great time" and a "party", Bollywood Badshah Shah Rukh Khan and the leading ladies of Bollywood Deepika Paudkone and Katrina Kaif kept around 50,000 spectators at the brightly-lit Salt Lake stadium - and millions more glued to Tv sets in their drawing rooms - with their enthralling performances.
The much-awaited show started with classical dancers serenading two giant lamps, and dancing in white, gold and red with diyas in hands. As more dancers joined in, Shah Rukh's voice boomed Tagore's "Where the mind is without fear" in the background.
Music director Pritam's composition that incorporated Afro beats amped up the music as hundreds of children, holding aloft torches that sparkled in the summer evening, moved gracefully on the ground below the elevated stage to form 'Om'.
Jumping into the arena bordered by artificial crags and peaks, cheerleaders in bright hues of red, white, and blue embraced the stage in jumps and lifts as golden curtains drew back to reveal acrobats cartwheeling across the stage.
Spectators cheered as the flying drummers from Europe descended from the roof while back on the grass children grooved to Pritam's composition in a flurry of pompoms, tassels, umbrellas and shimmering red and gold flags.
Gymnasts in shiny costumes bobbed across the stage and playground whirling streamers as violinists struck up a soulful note.
Meanwhile, Chinese women percussionists positioned across the lawn fired up the musical gala as nine balloons representing the teams synced up to the giant ball that went up sporting the IPL logo.
Amid the cultural mix, cricket also took the centrestage as captains of the nine participating teams joined hands to sign the ICC spirit of cricket pledge "Play hard, play fair" with former Indian cricketer Ravi Shastri administering the oath.
The IPL trophy was dropped into Kolkata Knight Rider captain Gautam Gambhir's hands by a woman breezing through the air suspended to a mass of balloons.
Khan made a grand entrance to a track from "Don" in the much anticipated Bollywood showdown. Breaking out to hits like "Chammak Challo", "Koi Mil Gaya", "Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhen", King Khan garnered maximum audience applause.
Mesmerising spectators by grooving to hits like "Angrezi beat", "Sajday Main" and "Yo Yo Honey Singh", Deepika took to the stage in a black outfit.
The glam quotient went up a notch as Katrina gracefully yet energetically performed to hits like "Tera Hone Laga Hoon", "Chikni Chameli", "Touch Me" etc. looking elegant in a black ghagra and choli.
Indian singer Usha Uthup and Bollywood music director Bappi Lahiri kept the audiences enthralled with disco tracks "Koi Yahan Nache Nache", "Hari Om Hari" and "Rambha Ho".
Youngsters in the audience crooned with Pitbull belting out hits like "Hey Baby", "Sexy and I know It" and "International Love" swathed in a black tuxedo and glares.
Bollywood buffs wanting more were not disappointed as Shah Rukh stepped back onto the stage with Katrina and Deepika in arms to "Gangnam style" playing in the background.
Fireworks lit up the night sky as SRK, Katrina and Deepika rounded off the spectacle.