The ongoing cricket World Cup is the first one being held in the country completely, and with team India having reached the finals, the excitement is at an all time high in the nation. In the World Cup, one of the most anticipated matches was the historic India Vs Pakistan clash. And filmmaker Varun Prabhudayal Gupta got to be a part of it in a special way as he curated and directed the opening ceremony for the same.
Recalling the historic experience, Varun remembers it as a ‘thrilling challenge’. He says, “The anticipation and global attention brought a unique energy that we as a team aimed to capture and amplify through the ceremony’s design and execution. The entire thought was to encourage the sports with a theme of ‘Spreading the Spirit of Humanity’ between both the countries. The inspiration for me to drive this came from a narrative of Gulzar Sahab which he wrote years back for a film, ‘Lakeerein hain toh rehne do kisi ne gusse mein aake kheech di thi’ which was all about bringing people closer.”
Varun adds, “We chose a different method rather than going a traditional way of doing Bollywood, we pitched the idea of Music, as music is one thing which has always been constant between both the countries no matter what the situations have been. The idea was to create a ceremony which has emotions, motivation and the spirit of togetherness.”
With so many eyes on the historic match, the preparation for it was as elaborate. It involved meticulous planning, coordination with various departments, from artists to technical and production teams, and ensuring every aspect aligned with the grandeur and spirit of the match. Detailed rehearsals, logistics management, and creative brainstorming were key elements in the preparation. They had planned a musical with a bunch of 60+ A Capella artists and the A list singers that were scheduled to perform for the opening ceremony.
Varun shares, “We wanted to start the ceremony with Mr. Amitabh Bachchan doing the opening narrative. Whenever it is about getting an opportunity to work with him, I feel this is the reason I came to this city and all the struggle was worth it. It all fell in place. We had a thought, onboarded a writer and shot with Sir on 9th October. He is always an inspiration to work with and the entire creative process of working with him is just a learning which I think is the biggest blessing.”
The ceremony started with an opening narration of Amitabh Bachchan followed by Arijit Singh, Sukhwinder Singh, Sunidhi Chauhan and Shankar Mahadevan for the opening ceremony and Neha Kakkar and Darshan Raval for the mid-inning Show.
Varun has been curating ceremonies for big cricket events for a while, be it Women’s Premier League, the IPL or the ongoing World Cup. He has always been a cricket enthusiast and while he didn’t get to play professionally, he does gets to show his love for the sport through his work. He informs, “I formed a Band in 2002 and started my journey in entertainment as a musician/singer where our first song “Jeet Jayenge ab ke baari hum yeh World Cup Jeet Jayenge” was the anthem for the World Cup 2007.”
Varun concludes, “The relationship with cricket has indeed grown stronger through projects like WPL, IPL, and the World Cup. While I am a die-hard fan, I deeply appreciate the sport’s unifying power. Expressing love for the game through work involves capturing its essence, celebrating its spirit, and creating moments that resonate with cricket enthusiasts worldwide.”