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Two films as diverse as Jodhaa Akbar and A Wednesday bag 14 nominations each
Arguably it could only happen at the Star Screen Awards. As the Nokia 15th Annual Star Screen Awards 2008 takes place tomorrow,tongues within the Hindi film industry are already wagging about the top two contenders. Interestingly,the two films with the maximum nominations couldnt be any more different from each other.
Ashutosh Gowarikars Jodhaa Akbar,made at a whopper budget of Rs 37 crore and starring two of the biggest and most beautiful actors Aishwarya Rai and Hrithik Roshan could well be called his magnum opus and is clearly the biggest film to roll out in 2009. Contrastingly,newcomer Neeraj Pandeys A Wednesday,was made with a charming shoe-string budget,without the conventional stars; it has two heavyweight talents instead Naseeruddin Shah and Anupam Kher. Both films have garnered 14 nominations each.
Jodhaa Akbar,nominated for Best Film,Best Director,Best Actor (male,female and negative role),Best Lyrics,Best Story and Best Art-Direction,is a film of epic proportions,both in size and content. Gowariker took four years to make this period romance,at a secretive elaborate set in Karjat,which included 80 elephants,100 horses and 55 camels in its crew. Opulent sets and costumes combined with mega-star presence made Jodhaa the most awaited film last year.
So no doubt that the film,close behind in the race to the awards seems an unusual candidate. Pandeys A Wednesday was shot in a little more than a month but was shrewdly timed,considering the resonance of its subject matter with the current political climate in the country; the film was a box-office hit. The clash of Akbar and the common man on the same battle-field,some say,reflects an about-turn from the big-budget star-starrer success formula.
Debutant Pandey is grateful. Im just happy that such films are finally being accepted. As for a competition,I think there is none. Every film stands in its own right, he says.
Shah,not carried away with his nomination as Best Actor,plays the lead role in A Wednesday as the common man who holds Mumbai ransom under a bomb threat. People are in a bit of a hurry to claim this as some kind of a movement. Its similar to what happened in the 70s. Young directors came out with brilliant films and there was a sense of euphoria. They get carried away and their talent fades. If you see their history,their first films remain their best films, says the masterly actor. Hes all praise for his film. I loved the script the first time I read it. In fact,I was supposed to play Anupam Khers role of the policeman first. When everybody else turned down the main role,it just fell into my lap. Im immensely proud of this film and am not surprised by how well its done.
For Shyam Benegal,whose comedy Welcome to Sajjanpur is also competing in the Best Story category,its all about economics. The emergence of more screens through multiplexes has helped a lot. Due to the multiplexes need to fill up their halls,producers have the option of narrowcasting on smaller budget films with off-beat themes, says Benegal.
In the end all awards are as good as the jury. The joint sensibility of the jury will show who wins.
13 Ghajini,Rock On!!!
10 Race,Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na
9 Bachna Ae Haseeno,Sarkar Raj
6 Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi,Singh is Kinng,Welcome to Sajjanpur
3 Jannat,Mumbai Meri Jaan
2 Golmaal Returns,Love Story 2050,Phoonk,Tashan
4,Maan Gaye Mughall-e-Azam,Mission Istaanbul,Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye!,U Me Aur Hum,Ugly Aur Pagli,Woodstock Villa