By Asif Ullah Khan
Pakistani Twitterati and media are seeing an Indian conspiracy in the disastrous opening ceremony of the 5th edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL). The opening ceremony was billed as one of the biggest cultural extravagances ever held in the country, but the ceremony in Karachi turned out to be a damp squib. Fingers were pointed at the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) for overlooking local talent and hiring Shubhra Bharadwaj of Ferriswheel Entertainment, a Mumbai-based event management company, reportedly at whopping Rs 21 crore.
Many Pakistani TV anchors and former cricketers questioned the rationale behind hiring an Indian firm at a time India has banned Pakistani cricketers from IPL and Pakistani actors, singers and other performers are not allowed to work there.
“At a time when there is no trade between the two. They have banned our artists and we have banned Indian films and TV dramas, why an Indian firm was hired for a ‘national event’? asked TV anchor Mubasher Lucman.
He asked in what capacity Shubhra Bharadwaj and her 80-member crew has come to Pakistan? Are they on visit visa or working visa? Will they pay on tax on the money they will be getting from the PCB? he asked.
One TV anchor even questioned whether the glitches were accidental or a part of a well-thought-out conspiracy to show Pakistan in poor light.
He said hosting the PSL in Pakistan will boost the image of the country and give new life to cricket in Pakistan. However, the PCB hired an Indian for this work and ‘she has shown her work’ (aur unhone apna kam dikha diya) by making this event a big flop. Lucman said there should be an inquiry into the entire fiasco and PCB chief Eshan Mani should be hauled over the coals.
Right from the word go, it was full of glitches and blunders. Before the show, it was announced that more than 350 artists, including top Pakistani singers, will perform live. Instead, every singer lip-synced on the stage, which was marred by glitches like songs cut short midway. Some were left clueless on the stage with the wrong clip coming on the giant screen.
Famous Pakistani pop star Ali Azmat was livid and lashed out at the PSL organisers for mismanagement and chaos on the stage. Clippings of songs of Ali and many other singers were cut short without informing them. An angry Ali not only confronted the organisers in public but also told a TV channel that it was the duty of the management to inform artists if their parts were cut so that they could prepare for it.
The biggest gaffe of the night was little known Ahmed Godil, who was asked to host the main ceremony. The social media roasted Godil for his lacklustre performance in which he tried to mimic Imran Khan. Heavily trolled on Twitter, Godil clarified he was hired as ‘ground host’ but was suddenly asked to come onto the stage as the crowd was getting bored and restless. Former Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar said: “I didn’t understand the [concept] of the opening ceremony. I didn’t see any people, the stage was too far away. Was it a bad ceremony?”