Hockey WC Kicks Off: Odisha CM Patnaik Declares HWC 2018 Open
Hockey WC Kicks Off: Odisha CM Patnaik Declares HWC 2018 Open
(Photo Courtesy: Twitter/Zalmi Foundation)

Hockey WC Kicks Off: Odisha CM Patnaik Declares HWC 2018 Open

Snapshotclose

  • 2018 FIH Men’s Hockey World Cup declared open with glittering opening ceremony in Bhubaneswar.
  • AR Rahman, Shah Rukh Khan and Madhuri Dixit headline star-studded night at Kalinga Stadium as 14th edition of HWC kicks off.
  • Hosting a Hockey WC after eight years, India hope to end a wait of 43 years for a title. The hosts face South Africa in their opener on Wednesday.
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Hockey WC: Countdown to Kick-Off

It’s been seven years since India last hosted a global sporting event. But for the next 20 days, the gaze of the sporting fraternity is set to be fixed upon the Eastern Indian state of Odisha.

Good evening and welcome to The Quint’s coverage of the opening ceremony for the 2018 FIH Men’s Hockey World Cup in Bhubaneswar.

Starting Wednesday, the 16 finest nations in the game will train their guns on the biggest stage in the sport. The 14th edition of the World Cup, to many observers, is expected to its closest in recent times.

Lot’s to talk about from a sporting perspective, but while the attention will shift to what defines the World Cup – the players, and the game itself – from tomorrow, tonight is all about the glamour.

A star-studded lineup awaits at the Kalinga Stadium from 6 pm IST. If you haven’t already, now would be a good time to set your alarm clocks...

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Opening Ceremony: On The Menu

Who’s gracing the stage at the Kalinga Stadium tonight? Two of India’s biggest superstars from the film industry, plus the finest musician produced by the country.

We told you this is about star power!

To Bollywood fans, particularly from the ‘90s, Madhuri Dixit was not much short of a goddess. This evening in Bhubaneswar, she is portraying ‘Mother Earth’!

Confused? Don’t be.

The theme for the opening act, as per the official press release, is ‘Oneness of Humankind’. Yes.

The veteran actor will be joined by 1100 artists aiming to tell the story of a “united world”. We’re reaching Utopia 24 hours before the whistle blows on the turf!

The ‘King’ (or is he ‘Don’?), Shah Rukh Khan, will then reprise his love for hockey – you all remember Chak De! – by presenting the collected heart beats of India (we’re not making this up) to the 16 captains.

This isn’t some Sci-Fi sorcery to wow the world. King Khan’s presentation marks the culmination of the ‘HeartBeats For Hockey’ campaign, which was launched by Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on 29 August (birth anniversary of Major Dhyan Chand, for the hockey-uninitiated).

Then comes AR Rahman, who will bring to life his and legendary lyricist/composer Gulzar’s composition ‘Jai India’ – the official song and tune of the HWC 2018, before performing some of his most iconic songs.

At 90 minutes from start to finish, the ceremony will last a tad longer than the length of a hockey match. But hey, who’s complaining right?

30-Minute Delay at the Kalinga

Oops! We’ve hit a bit of a snag.

The grand opening ceremony in Bhubaneswar has been pushed back by half an hour. No official reason yet, but the postponement has been confirmed by FIH themselves.

AR Rahman Arrives!

Whatever/whoever the reason for the delay, it wasn’t AR Rahman.

The known perfectionist, true to his style, was seated well in advance – as confirmed by his video-on-arrival tweet, posted at least two hours ago.

High Spirits in Indian Camp

Playing a World Cup at home, with the pressure of a 1.3 billion strong population at close quarters – must be nervy, right?

Evidently not. Captain Manpreet Singh appears to have taken a leaf out of football managers with a trolling act of his own!

HWC 2018: All You Need to Know

Just under 20 minutes to go then for things to get underway at Kalinga Stadium (assuming no further delays). We have you covered, don’t worry – here’s how you could cut that time.

Not sure of the schedule yet? Want to know which evenings you need to keep free to ensure ‘Phir Dil Do Hockey Ko’ isn’t limited to just a hashtag on Twitter? Here goes.

How do the hosts look? Who do they go up against? And where to from the group stage? It’s a little complicated, the second stage of HWC 2018, but we’ve got it broken down here.

Do you remember when India won their last – and only – WC title? You probably don’t. Because it was 1975. Both history, and recent form, are not on India’s side, as Shreeda Aggarwal points out.

India’s rivals in the tournament, though, appear to be quite cautious of the world number five ranked side’s abilities. Or are they just being good guests?

Among those guests, are Pakistan – who received a warm welcome, first at the Wagah Border, then in Bhubanewar. Take a cue, cricket.

Opening Ceremony Begins, At Last

And we’re up and running in Bhubaneswar.

A heart-tugging start to proceedings at the Kalinga, as members of India’s 1975 WC-winning team take the stage.

(Photo Courtesy: Twitter/HeartBeatsForHockey)

Kalinga Packed to the Rafters

Or so it seems, at least.

The initial pictures coming out of Bhubaneswar don’t clearly depict the extent of the crowd strength. But my word, is this place a sight to behold!

(Photo Courtesy: Twitter/HeartBeatsForHockey)

And We're Away!

Gaurav Kapur – he of IPL, and more recently Breakfast with Champions fame – is the host for the evening.

He sparks the audience into life with some very kind words for Odisha, the first Indian state to sponsor a tournament of this magnitude.

Kapur welcomes Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, but first on the dais is FIH President Narinder Batra.

'Jai Hind India': A Jaw-Dropping Start

We’re just going to let the pictures do the talking for you. This is how things got underway.

Security Beefed Up

As it should be, because Gaurav Kapur has just welcomed “the most loved Chief Minister in India”. Naveen Patnaik begins his opening speech.

"Are You Happy?"

That’s Mr. Patnaik’s question to the capacity crowd at the Kalinga.

“All of us are looking forward to this 18-day hockey festival. I thank all of you for coming here,” he says.

The Odisha Chief Minister declares the 2018 FIH Men’s Hockey World Cup open.

(Photo Courtesy: Twitter/HeartBeatsForHockey)

HWC 2018 Declared Open

The captains of the 16 teams are now being called up to the stage.

Argentina and three-time WC winners Australia are first up, in alphabetic order.

They are followed by Belgium, and then Canada.

China are followed on to the stage by 1986 runners-up England.

Up next come France, a team surely hoping to match the efforts of their footballers.

Germany probably don’t want to follow the trend set by their football team, they are followed by Ireland.

Malaysia – they who denied India a gold at the Asiad – receive a mild welcome, but Pakistan are greeted to a raucous cheer!

New Zealand, Netherlands, South Africa, Spain – they’re all up on stage now.

And finally – to the loudest cheer on the night so far – comes Manpreet Singh, captain of the Indian hockey team.

16 Captains Up On Stage

They stand patiently, as an AV presentation showcases the ‘Heart Beats for Hockey’ campaign – with messages from across India.

Chak De! SRK on Stage

23,538,617... 23,538,622.

It’s an ever-increasing number of heart beats, collected from Kashmir to Kanyakumari.

Bringing it all to the stage is India’s own heart-throb: Shah Rukh Khan arrives!

Too bad he can’t quote his iconic “70 minute hain tumhaare paas” dialogue from Chak De! India. (FYI: Hockey matches are now 60-minute affairs.)

'Hockey More Revered Here Than Anywhere'

(Photo Courtesy: Twitter/HeartBeatsForHockey)

He does have some great words to say nonetheless, does the man who played former India player and women’s hockey coach Kabir Khan in the 2007 movie – which he claims isn’t his only connect with the sport.

SRK speaks about his love for hockey, one which saw him represent his school back in the day, before calling the players gathered for the WC the “fiercest artists in the world”.

'Sattar Minute' 2.0!

Oh, well...did I tempt fate, King Khan?

Shah Rukh Khan does reiterate his memorable Chak De! dialogue – ALL of it!

Did no one tell him hockey matches are now 60-minute affairs?

Who cares, this is SRK! He says what he wants, he does what he wants...and the Kalinga loves it.

He asks Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik to grace the stage and meet the captains, granting Gaurav Kapur a chance to go the ‘neta aur abhineta’ route.

And King Khan (Kabir Khan?) signs off for the night!

(Photo Courtesy: Twitter/HeartBeatsForHockey)

Odisha's Hour

HWC 2018 is, of course, Odisha’s moment of reckoning. The stage where the Eastern Indian state announces itself to the world.

In trying to drive home that point, they’re now airing another AV. This one showcases the beauty and the mystery of the land.

'World Is One Family'

Now it’s time for thematic theatrics.

‘Mother Earth’ Madhuri Dixit entrances the Kalinga crowd with the ‘title’ performance of the evening – a spectacularly choreographed creation of Nupur Mahajan.

Some 1100 performers are on stage.

Queen of Hearts Madhuri Turns 'Mother Earth'

(Photo Courtesy: Twitter/HeartBeatsForHockey)

No play on words, that’s just the Bollywood diva’s role for the night.

A quite mesmerising performance from the ‘90s superstar, to a voice-over depicting the ‘Oneness of Humankind’ theme.

Some of the writing – how do we put this tenderly? – is at times bordering on corny. Still streets better than the infatuation of some tournament organisers/broadcasters to bill every contest a ‘war’. Two thumbs up, creators!

It's All Quite Colourful

Heart Beating For Hockey, Yet?

Top voices in the country have latched on to the hockey bandwagon – and the organisers are sharing their words on Twitter.

On the menu: The Indian Prime Minister, the Indian Sports Minister, and a hoax account of the Indian men’s cricket captain!

Lengthy 'World Unison'

The ongoing act, ‘Oneness of Humankind’/’World Is One Family’, has been ONE long affair – has it been one half of a hockey game yet?

I think it has, but the pictures do remain stunning still!

(Photo Courtesy: Twitter/HeartBeatsForHockey)

HWC 2018: Your Ready Reckoner

Alright, as we near the conclusion of the grand opening ceremony to the 2018 FIH Men’s Hockey World Cup, here’s a low-down of all you might want to know ahead of the on-field commencement of the tournament on Wednesday.

Not sure of the schedule yet? Want to know which evenings you need to keep free to ensure ‘Phir Dil Do Hockey Ko’ isn’t limited to just a hashtag on Twitter? Here goes.

How do the hosts look? Who do they go up against? And where to from the group stage? It’s a little complicated, the second stage of HWC 2018, but we’ve got it broken down here.

Do you remember when India won their last – and only – WC title? You probably don’t. Because it was 1975. Both history, and recent form, are not on India’s side, as Shreeda Aggarwal points out.

India’s rivals in the tournament, though, appear to be quite cautious of the world number five ranked side’s abilities. Or are they just being good guests?

Among those guests, are Pakistan – who received a warm welcome, first at the Wagah Border, then in Bhubanewar. Take a cue, cricket.

'And Finally'

Going by the voice-over, we’re approaching the last leg of this voluminous rendition from ‘Mother Earth’ Madhuri.

Sample some more breath-taking pictures from the evening gone by at Bhubaneswar’s Kalinga Stadium.

The Final Act: AR Rahman

We did hear right. Host Gaurav Kapur begins the vote of thanks to the team behind the glittering extravaganza at the Kalinga.

There’s Shiamak Davar (choreographer), Nupur Mahajan (creator of ‘The Earth Song’).

More thanks go to a host of others involved in making the night what it was.

And what a close they have. The man who needs no introduction: AR Rahman.

Music Maestro Regales Kalinga

Two-time Grammy Award winner. Two-time Academy Award winner.

A BAFTA. A Golden Globe.

Six national awards. Fifteen Filmfare awards.

One genius.

I know, you didn’t need an introduction. But since I can’t plug you in to the actual performance...

'Vande Mataram', 'Jai Ho'

The musical maestro chooses two of his most befitting songs to take the evening towards the finish line.

'Jai India': Let The Games Begin

The last song, though, is the official song and tune of HWC 2018 – ‘Jai India’, a collaborated effort of Rahman and Gulzar.

The colours of the tricolour adorn the Kalinga Stadium, which has turned into a sea of saffron, white and green.

A closing vote of thanks follows from the host for the night, Gaurav Kapur. And that’s that!

It brings us to the end of our continuous coverage here at The Quint too. Thank you for your company as we witnessed the start of the year’s biggest sporting event in India.

The games have only just begun; India open their campaign with a clash against South Africa at 7 pm IST. Be sure to join us through the next 19 days, as we bring you an extensive coverage of the 2018 FIH Men’s Hockey World Cup.

As SRK would say: Picture abhi baaki hai mere dost...

(Photo Courtesy: Twitter/HeartBeatsForHockey)

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