Close one lakh people turned up to watch felicitation of the newly crowned IPL champions by the state government.
“I don’t think any other state or country in the world has this kind of support for their sporting heroes. Many many thanks to all of you. Thank you Kolkata for supporting us for our second win,” he said at the team’s felicitation at the Eden Gardens, organised by the state government and CAB.
“Our success for KKR which is run by Venky Mysore and captained by Gautam Gambhir is just because of you. I thank all of you bowing my head on behalf of my team,” he said. “Humko aapki taaliyan bhi Padang hai aur gaaliyan bhi (we appreciate both your love and flaks)… We will keep working hard and keep entertaining you sharing our happiness.”
KKR supporters are spread everywhere not just in Kolkata, he said and quoted a popular dialogue from his movie ‘Don’: “Don ko agar koi pakad sakta hai woh KKR ke supporters hain.”
Khan was delayed by two hours but that did not take any sheen off the felicitation of IPL champions Kolkata Knight Riders in the presence of about one lakh spectators and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee at the Eden Gardens here on Tuesday.
Taking bows repeatedly as a gesture of gratitude to fans, KKR co-owner SRK made a lap of the packed Eden, waving and blowing kisses with his entire squad in tow with loud cries of team slogan ‘Korbo, Lorbo, Jeetbo Re… Ami Kolkata, we rule’.
Holding aloft the trophy, skipper Gautam Gambhir led the victory lap along with co-owner Juhi Chawla.
Bollywood heartthrob SRK apologised for his delay on his official Twitter handle, “Sorry Kolkata technical snag on flight. Will be a bit late but will be there. Apologies. “Kolkata bound. Delay in flight, but will make it…Insha Allah nothing can stop us now,” SRK tweeted as the reception began at noon.
Earlier, the KKR cricketers on board eight open SUVs made a victory lap of the stadium amid confetti showers soon after the Chief Minister arrived.
While about 60,000 people managed to enter the stadium, thousands jostled at the surrounding Maidan areas to gain entry, which was free, but through complimentary passes issued by police stations in the metropolis and CAB affiliated clubs in the state.
Later, after SRK arrived at 4:00 pm, Banerjee, who rescheduled her visit to north Bengal to be present at the felicitation, asked policemen to let people in.
With no reception in Bengal being complete without sweets, a specially made giant sandesh weighing 40kg in a replica of Eden Gardens was placed with the Trophy.
The cake was cut jointly by team co-owners Shah Rukh, Juhi Chawla and Jay Mehta along with skipper Gambhir and the chief minister.
Unlike the 2012 celebration after their maiden IPL triumph when team members were showered with gold, it was the Cricket Association of Bengal that jointly feted the IPL 7 champions.
The felicitation began with CAB chief Jagmohan Dalmiya handing out gold rings weighing 10 gm each to all the members and support staff of the victorious side. Also presented were Alphonso mangoes on the state’s behalf.
In the morning there was chaos outside the Eden Gardens as about one lakh delirious fans turned up only to find team that the co-owner’s arrival was delayed.
People started queueing up at Eden Gardens from as early as 9:00 am as all the roads leading to the venue located in the busy Maidan area were blocked.
At times, the police had to wield lathis to disperse the crowd with the help of the Mounted Police.
The Eden started filling up since 11:00 am and Indipop singer Usha Uthup set the atmosphere blazing belting out popular Bollywood chartbusters to keep the spectators engaged till the arrival of the team.
Taking a cue from PM Narendra Modi’s hugely successful ‘Ab Ki Baar…’ campaign, she sang a new theme song — ‘Ab ki baar KKR, Baar baar KKR, Baar baar chhukka maar’ — as the crowd kept dancing.
There was also a host of Bengali film and TV industry celebrities present on the occasion.
Needless to say there were traffic chaos and people commuting by public or private transport faced a harrowing time.