Stars descend on the pitch

Stars descend on the pitch

Spectacular show

Our cricket team may have been mauled Down Under but why can’t we have some fun with ‘filmi’ cricket? Isn’t cricket our religion and cinema our passion?

Excited: Sandalwood actors cheering aloud. DH Photos by S k dinesh That seemed to be the mood of Bangaloreans, who flocked to the Chinnaswamy Stadium in thousands on Sunday, braving the chill and despite the fact that it was Sankranti.

At least 15,000 fans of Kannada and Bengali film stars and cricket turned up for the match between ‘Karnataka Bulldozers’ and ‘Bengal Tigers’. The blue flags and accessories (‘Karnataka Bulldozers’) outnumbered the purple flags (‘Bengal Tigers’) but the mood in the stadium was nevertheless upbeat.

There was some serious cricket and a lot of masti on the ground. The Sandalwood stars, most of them actresses,  cheered, roared, hooted and screamed in support of their male counterparts, who were sweating it out on the field. The female stars even did a jig or two and whistled — for the camera and, of course, for the fans.

The ‘Karnataka Bulldozers’ won the match easily with ‘Bengal Tigers’ even failing to put up a fight. They let go too easily and there was nothing remarkable about their bowling, batting or fielding skills.

Rajeev was declared the ‘Man of the Match’. Sudeep, who braved a hand injury, couldn’t contain his excitement and constantly waved at his screaming fans. Victory was all that mattered and the Karnataka team remained focussed throughout the game.

Also visible was the camaraderie shared by the stars from all film industries. The stars from other industries not only came to cheer but made sure they greeted each other and socialised. Sharath Kumar and wife Radhika greeted owners of ‘Bengal Tigers’ — Boney Kapoor and Sridevi. Ambareesh too did all he could to encourage the young players of both the teams.

Ambareesh’s wife Sumalatha, who was also there to watch the match, said, “The Karnataka team missed the cup by sheer bad luck last season but I am sure they will lift it this year. They have ben working very hard and seemed to have taken the game more seriously. The match was a real treat to watch.” 

Priya Sudeep, actor Sudeep’s wife, has been lending her wholehearted support to her husband. “Sudeep had a pretty bad hand injury during one of the practice sessions. He was advised to rest his hand. But he was so determined not to succumb to the pain that he got his cast off and returned to practice. I admire his courage and commitment,” she said.

According to Mayuk of AKK Entertainment, more than 15,000 tickets were sold on Sunday and people were even buying tickets from those who were selling them in black outside the stadium.

The tickets were reasonably priced at Rs 125 and Rs 250 this year as compared to last year. “We want the ordinary people, who are the real fans of all these stars, to come and watch the match. The match must be accessible to them as they are the real audience,” he explained.

It was love for the game and more than that, the urge to see their favourite stars live in action that brought most people to the stadium. Movie CDs and audio CDs of Sudeep, Darshan and Puneeth Rajkumar were distributed among the spectators.

Roopa, one of the spectators, described her son Tejas as a big fan of Sudeep. “Tejas doesn’t take his eyes off Sudeep if he sees him on television. We are fans of Sudeep and thought we will lend support to him,” said Roopa. Chaitra and her bunch of five friends, all students of engineering at MVIT, said they were determined to come and watch their favourite stars in action. “It wasn’t very hard to get tickets. We wanted to see Sudeep, Darshan, Tharun and all the others stars. It’s not an opportunity we get all the time and we didn’t want to miss this match for anything,” Preeti wrapped up.

A filmi twist

The stars were more than willing to mix with the ordinary people. For once, there weren’t any bouncers to push and shove people away. Kannada and Bengali stars took time off to sign autographs, pose for photos and even cheer with the crowd.  

“It’s one of those rare moments when we get to meet and interact with fellow actors from the other film industries. We always meet on work and mixing cricket and films is a good thing.”
-Riya Sen, actress 

“The star cricket concept is great and a fun way for stars and their fans to come together.”
-Radhika, actress 

 “Cricket and films attract a lot of people and Celebrity Cricket League (CCL) is a great way to bring people together. There’s so much fun on and off the ground. It’s the dedication among the players that I admire the most.”
-Boney Kapoor, owner of Bengal Tigers

“I am here to lend support to my team. This is an interesting format and what better way to get all the film industries together under one roof.”
-Sridevi, actress

 “It’s such a wonderful opportunity to meet all the stars and more than winning, it’s the spirit of the game that matters. There’s so much excitement in the air and I really love the energy.”
-Tara, actress

“My brother is part of ‘Bengal Tigers’ and we are meeting after a long time so I am here to cheer for him. I started my career in Bengali films and the industry means a lot to me. But today, my support is for both the teams.”
-Priyanka Upendra, actress

“We wanted to bring the reel action out into the open. Cricket and films are crowd-pullers. It’s like giving the game of cricket a starry twist.” 
-Sharath Kumar, actor