CGames: India media hail 'spectacular' opening ceremony

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After months of relentless bad press, the Commonwealth Games won resounding support in the national media on Monday after a dazzling opening ceremony.

The cynicism that saw the Games vilified for its bloated budget, delays and corruption turned to relief and triumphalism as the opening ceremony went off without a hitch.

"A Great Indian Start to Games" headlined The Indian Express, while the Times of India said "Finally, Delhi Dazzles."

"In the end it turned out like a perfect Indian wedding," added the Times, India's largest selling English-language newspaper.

"The next few days will tell us if the honeymoon too, if not the marriage itself, will be as successful."

The Hindustan Times called the opening ceremony "A Spectacular Start", hailing the moment of South Asian solidarity when the 60,000-strong crowd cheered wildly for Pakistan's athletes.

"Did You See Delhi's Might?" asked the Hindi-language newspaper Dainik Jagran, while English language daily The Pioneer said "Delhi Showcases Brand India."

"Indiaaah!" screamed the front page of the tabloid Mail Today over a full-page photo of the laser lights, stage, thousands of participants and the centre piece - the "Aerostat", a reportedly nine-million-dollar (400-million-rupee) white helium-filled balloon.

"Nation silences naysayers with a spellbinding Commonwealth Games opening ceremony," it added.

The verdict was the same on the influential television news networks.

"The organisers may have let down India in the run up to the Games, but ultimately its people did not," the CNBC-TV18 network said on its website.

"The shame and the fear of a national disaster - all that was put behind on Sunday night. India pulled it off, even if just. It has cost us billions, but what an opening show we put up."

The show, criticised in one paper for giving too little space to the country's Bollywood film industry, won a thumbs up from its biggest star.

"India won again!! What a spectacular opening to the Games ... thank you !! Proud to be Indian .. now go win all the medals!!" wrote Amitabh Bachchan on micro-blogging site Twitter.

Watched by a crowd of almost 60,000 at the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium in New Delhi, with a worldwide television audience of more than a billion, the launch was billed as bringing "India alive" for the 11-day sporting showpiece.

From the first crackle of applause to the singalong grand finale, the ceremony was a popular success, mixing the raucous dance, music and colour that the country is famous for with some high-tech special effects.

The crowd was not so keen, however, when it came to forgiving Suresh Kalmadi, chairman of the organising committee and the face of the troubled Games, whose speech was greeted by an angry chorus of jeers.