No superstars, no local flavour

While the Taj Express chugged on at The Esplanade, many Indian movie stars descended on our shores for the 13th Jaypee International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Awards.

It was the second time the country played host to the awards night - often referred to as the Bollywood Oscars - but what was to be a night of rock stars and top-notch Indian film glamour left many fans disappointed.

This year, IIFA celebrates 100 years of Indian cinema and word on the street had it that many of Bollywood's royalty would be in attendance. On the big day though there were no Khans, no Bachchans. Even Hrithik Roshan didn't show up for the awards evening despite fans claiming that he was in Singapore that very same day.

Compared to 2004, when Singapore last played host to this event, this year's guest list was thin on local celebrities and VIPs too.

The 2004 event had then president S.R. Nathan as guest of honour while two Singapore ministers attended. One of them was then Minister for Trade and Industry George Yeo who gave a speech while local television actors like Gurmit Singh added star power to the audience.

That year's event also featured a dance performance that showcased multicultural Singapore; this year, two out-of-placed lion dancers were spotted on the periphery of the stage during Priyanka Chopra's dance number.

There was more disappointment for the fans, especially those who went to the venue in the hope of catching a glimpse of their heroes and heroines as they entered the Singapore Indoor Stadium. As the Green Carpet area was a ticketed area, they couldn't sneak a peek and even those with access were trapped in the overcrowded fan enclosure that made celebrity sighting quite close to impossible.

The event itself commenced just after 9pm and it got off to a bumpy start. First-time IIFA hosts Farhan Akhtar and Shahid Kapoor tried to get the celebratory atmosphere going but they were left with an amused 7,000-odd audience after getting the names of distinguished award presenters wrong three times in a row.

The show finally stuttered to life with the star performances. Sonakshi Sinha and Bipasha Basu each performed chart-topping songs while Priyanka Chopra paid tribute to Rekha. South Indian star Prabhudeva thrilled the audience with his trademark moves along with Shahid Kapoor who got the hearts of girl fans racing with his number.

There were other south Indian stars too, much to the delight of many local fans lucky enough to be in the stadium. Kamal Hassan, who launched his movie Vishwaroopam on June 8 as part of the IIFA festivities, was there. So were Sarath Kumar, his wife Rathika and Shreya Saran.

The showstopping performance was by Best Actor Ranbir Kapoor and his father Rishi Kapoor (top) - the elder Kapoor matching his son's energetic moves and drawing loud cheers from the audience. Fans did notice that the duo had accidentally ended up wearing each other's jackets throughout their act. But the father-son team managed to carry this faux pas with immense style.

But the night truly belonged to young director Zoya Akhtar and her film Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara. It bagged four awards of the night - Best Film, Best Director, Best Story and Best Supporting Actor. "This evening is turning out to be better than expected... I thank my crew and I beg them to do my next film," an ecstatic Zoya quipped in her acceptance speech.

 

"Singapore has always been very good to me. I'm really happy to be here to celebrate Indian Cinema." - Kamal Hassan (above) looking all sleek and stylish as he greets fans at the Green Carpet event Seven years ago, at IIFA Amsterdam Parineeta premiere.

"I made my debut and my life changed... getting this award on exactly the completion of seven years on the 10th of June in 2012 is beautiful." - Vidya Balan (below)

 

jamunas@sph.com.sg

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