Bollywood stars as icing on IPL cake get S Africans excited

March 25th, 2009 - 12:22 pm ICT by IANS  

Shah Rukh Khan By Fakir Hassen
Johannesburg, March 25 (IANS) Cricket fans here are not the only ones excited because the Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 tournament will be played in South Africa this year. Fans of Bollywood and Tamil film stars are thrilled too, as they know their idols will descend across the country with one team or the other.

Following the announcement here Tuesday by BCCI Commissioner Lalit Modi that the IPL T20 tournament would be hosted in South Africa from April 18, there was as much excitement among Bollywood fans as there was among cricket enthusiasts.

The tournament was moved from India due to shortage of security personnel during the general elections there. The IPL and the poll schedules clashed.

“The IPL combines the two greatest passions of every Indian - cricket and Bollywood - in a unique way as the world’s top players participate, and now we have the opportunity of seeing them both in one go,” ardent cricket fan and Bollywood lover Vimla Naidoo told IANS at the Montecasino cinema here as news broke of South Africa becoming the IPL host country.

“I hope they take some time out to meet us as well, and not just celebrate or mourn the success or demise of their teams,” added Mohan Laljeeth, an Indian expatriate IT technician from Bangalore, as his wife Kamini commented that he could have all the cricket he wanted, as long as she and their two kids got to watch Shah Rukh Khan.

Fans of Tamil movies here are also looking forward to some big names from the south coming here. “I was in Tamil Nadu on a pilgrimage to temples there with my family last year when the Chennai Super Kings roped in popular stars Vijay and Nayantara as ambassadors,” said Magenthran Munusami.

“It was absolutely amazing how they were worshipped like demi-gods by fans, but I don’t think the same thing will happen to any of the stars who come here, because we (South African Indians) are a little more conservative.”

All of the eight teams, Rajasthan Royals, Kings XI Punjab, Chennai SuperKings, Delhi Daredevils, Mumbai Indians, Kolkata Knight Riders, Bangalore Royal Challengers and Deccan Chargers, have links to Bollywood in some way or the other.

With IPL team owners such as Shah Rukh Khan and Preity Zinta having endorsed the move to South Africa, the prospects have increased of South Africans seeing almost every major Bollywood star at local cricket stadiums.

Many other Bollywood stars perform in entertainment shows preceding the matches, with a gala event before the final in the inaugural tournament last year proving to be a huge hit.

Although South African fans have seen large Bollywood shows such as the Now or Never Concert in Durban led by Amitabh Bachchan and the Shah Rukh Khan show at Sun City a few years ago, there are usually only about half a dozen top stars in each show. The IPL attracts almost every top star, even if just as a spectator, and TV cameras make a point of zooming in on all their reactions as games progress.

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