| Under flak for spending crores of rupees on Saifai Mahotsava at a time when Muzaffarnagar riot victims were "left out in the cold", the ancestral village of chief minister Akhilesh Yadav on Wednesday witnessed Bollywood stars, including Salman Khan, Madhuri Dixit, Ranvir Singh, Karishma Tanna, Alia Bhatt and Sonal Chauhan, gyrating to popular Bollywood numbers.
There was not a moment short of Bollywood 'latkas' and 'jhatkas' in the closing ceremony of the Saifai Mahotsav in Etawah on Wednesday. "Character Dheela" song-fame Zarine Khan and Hard Kaur presented hot item numbers, creating ripples among the thousands of Saifai folks who had thronged the main pandal.
Elli Avaram of the Big Boss-7 season fame and Sana Khan performed catchy numbers. Following huge public demand, "Dabangg" Salman Khan took the centre stage, grooving to his popular "Hud Dabang" number. Later, the Saifai folks razzled and dazzled with the performance of "Dhak-Dhak" queen Madhuri Dixit on various popular numbers. More than two lakh people turned up at the main Saifai pandal to attend the grand show, reports said.
Earlier, the stars descended on the otherwise desolate airstrip in nine chartered planes to take part in the closing ceremony of the mega show.
The live coverage of the glitzy Saifai "Finale" had been banned by the district administration. Strict restriction on TV cameras had been made inside the venue.
District Magistrate P Guruprasad said unlike in previous years, live coverage of the event will not be allowed this year, adding short clips may be shot. "As electronic cameras of the media obstruct general view, arrangements for the same close to the stage have not been made this year."
The Chief Minister was present at the Saifai airstrip to welcome the Bollywood stars on Wednesday afternoon. Members of the Yadav family, who were deputed to oversee the arrangements, included the CM's cousin Dharmendra Yadav, and both of them could not hide their elation with "stars shining all around". All these stars would perform at the closing ceremony of Saifai Mahotsav, said an organizer.
Eager fans jostled for space outside the air strip to catch a glimpse of the Bollywood stars. Actors Salman Khan and Madhuri Dixit waived at their fans after coming out of the chartered planes and drew the maximum applause.
While controlling the crowd and restricting the media shutterbugs, the police too tried its best to get a glimpse of the superstars.
Rural folks of Saifai crowded outside the Saifai air strip. Many of them were seen waiting on the sides of the adjoining road and on rooftops so that they could have a glimpse of their favourite Bollywood stars in person. People of all ages thronged the venue and the road leading to the guest house and the main pandal too was overcrowded. Women and girls were also seen.
Police were deployed in large number to keep a check on the over-enthusiastic crowd. As the actors came out of the airstrip in their SUVs, youngsters went into a frenzy and many of them attempted to capture their favourite stars through their mobile phones. "Salman! Madhuri!" -- the youth shouted to draw their attention.
"All thanks to our Netaji (SP boss Mulayam Singh Yadav) who had been organising the Saifai Mahotsava on such a grand scale. I shared the video I made of Salman Khan with all my friends," said a local.
The Mahotsava was originally conceived in 1997 by a dedicated band of youths led by Ranbir Singh and Dev Vrat Gupta and was meant to be a three-day affair where villagers had fun, made purchases from the haat and enjoyed the dangal and nautanki. After Ranbir's death, Mulayam gave it a face-lift and started celebrating it on a large scale with lot of fanfare.
A few days ago, the father-son duo had drawn flak for enjoying, along with their clan and senior party leaders, sizzling performances by various artistes at the Mahotsava.