‘CWG opener was a miracle waiting to happen’

By Radhika Bhirani, IANS
Monday, October 4, 2010

NEW DELHI - The grand Commonwealth Games opening ceremony was “a miracle waiting to happen” - is what the team involved in the mega show always felt during preparations for Sunday’s pageant that showcased India’s rich culture and heritage to huge applause.

The team included event management company Wizcraft Entertainment, Bharat Bala of BharatBala Productions, and a three-member committee including lyricist Prasoon Joshi, writer-lyricist Javed Akhtar and filmmaker Shyam Benegal.

They are brimming with pride after successfully streamlining 5,000 years of Indian culture for the mega event, which saw contingents from 71 countries and territories taking a bow for the 11-day sports extravaganza.

Bharat Bala, who was chosen as CWG creative head, says planning and executing the opening ceremony was “extremely challenging”.

“We had limited time for rehearsals, but with everyone’s effiorts and the pool of talented performers across India, our entire team knew that there was a miracle waiting to happen with the opening ceremony,” said Bala, the head honcho of BharatBala Productions, which produces feature films, TV commercials, documentaries, and music videos.

“Even to arrive at a decision on what to show and what not to show was so tough. I wanted to ensure that there shouldn’t be too many things about India, and yet, those aspects that depict the strength of our Indian culture should be there,” he added.

And what made the event so special is that they did not have to showcase Bollywood in order to sell India.

“I was very confident that we can do this without Bollywood. We have been successful in displaying that Indian culture has an unmatched power, and we should be proud of our history,” Joshi told IANS.

“We have received a fabulous response from Indian citizens as well as friends from abroad. After this spectacular show, we must stop underestimating the power of Indian culture and the taste of Indians. It’s time we understand that Bollywood isn’t the only thing that works,” he added.

The opening ceremony Sunday was divided into six segments and aimed to capture the diverse dances, drums, music, yoga and textiles of the country.

Some of the highlights included the massive helium aerostat balloon, Rajasthani puppets that danced in the air to drumbeats, the ‘namaste’ formation by schoolchildren, the Bodhi tree of knowledge, the 600-feet-long human train depicting rural India and a laser embodiment of a yogic pose.

The citizens, foreign delegates and international media were spellbound by the enigmatic cultural presentation, which had 7,000 men, women and children performing.

Until the ceremony, the organising committee, headed by Suresh Kalmadi, had been facing flak for laxity in meeting deadlines, managing security concerns and maintaining hygienic conditions at the Games Village.

But the ceremony seems to have been a “mood changer”, according to Viraf Sarkari of Wizcraft Entertainment Pvt Ltd.

“The ceremony really turned out to be absolutely spectacular. It was a mood changer. Every person who had been bad-mouthing the event, is now happy and proud of the way India was showcased. And yes, we have managed to change the mood,” Sarkari told IANS.

“The response has been overwhelming. I really think we did a wise thing by not having Bollywood this time! We feel on top of the world!” he added.

Now the team is gearing up to give foreign delegates another reason to cheer - a grand closing ceremony Oct 14.

(Radhika Bhirani can be contacted at radhika.b@ians.in)

Filed under: Commonwealth Games

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