The Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) got underway in rather lukewarm fashion with a more than three-hour opening ceremony that had its share of organisational issues at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur yesterday.
The most disappointing aspect was the dearth of spectators at the start of the show with not more than three or four thousand dotting the stands well past the scheduled start. The stands began to fill around half an hour into the show, though coming into the stadium there was not the throngs outside one expected to see for an event of such magnitude. The general complaints heard among the few fans outside the stadium surrounded the high prices of tickets. Even with more people coming in the stadium could not have been more than half-full by the end of the show.
The ceremony started half an hour behind schedule with Ayub Bachchu and a group of children from the Shishu Academy doing a rendition of 'Amar Bhaiyer Rokte Rangano Ekushey February', a tribute to the martyrs of the 1952 Language Movement, after which Indian stars Bappi Lahiri and Shaan along with Kumar Bishwajit performed.
Then it was time for the President of People's Republic of Bangladesh Zillur Rahman to inaugurate the show after another round of pensive wait.
BCB president AHM Mustafa Kamal and Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith then delivered their speeches as the paltry crowd grew restless. However, a decent display of acrobatics and fireworks brought some much needed life back into an already stalling show. The 'Beautiful Bangladesh' tourism video was shown followed by a classical dance performance consisting of legendary dancers Shamim Ara Nipa and Shibli Mohammad.
By then the stadium had begun to fill up and the show picked up with performances from Mila, Miles and Ayub Bachchu, again performing some of his biggest hits. The last hour of the show saw performances from Bollywood artists Bappi Lahiri and Shaan gracing the stage for a second time. The best was saved for last with a laser show by the International Dance Troupe after a dance performance by Bollywood sensations Bipasha Basu and Malaika Arora Khan. To close the show and cap off the night was another display of fireworks.
Even with a strong last hour it has to be said that the show dragged on at times and felt unorganised for the most, especially judging from the turnout -- where a packed house was generally expected.