Quicksilver star dancer Shahid Kapoor descends from on high, and leaps on to the stage. The music swells and fireworks go up in beautifully orchestrated bursts. Light, Camera, Action! And away we go, as it all comes together for the 20th Life OK Screen Awards.
The Screen song fills the air, which has a familiar January nip. “Dhak dhak dil dil, dil dil dhak dhak”, perfectly encapsulates the mood of the evening : Indian hearts beat loudest for movies. And the Screen awards, most respected in the industry, kick-start the award season to honour the best and brightest in Bollywood, the biggest film industry in the world, and in Marathi cinema, which continues to astonish with its startlingly original talent.
The year gone by was Indian cinema’s centenary year, and in his opening remarks, chief guest Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tiwari, held out some awards of his own : a single window clearance for film making, overhauling the archaic Cinematograph Act, greenlighting the Rs 600 crore National Film Heritage Mission, and the opening shortly of The Museum Of Indian Cinema in Mumbai. But that is all in the future : the present is right here, right now, and things are stirring on the stage.
Aaand anchor Shah Rukh Khan arrives, all dapper in a sharp black suit. As soon as he comes on, you can feel the temperature rise, perceptibly. The audience has been waiting for this superstar : he knows it and grins, and we can see the dimple flash all the way across the MMRDA grounds. Yo Yo Honey Singh, accompanied by a bevy of lovelies, gets into a rap medley, including his popular `Blue Eyes’, and the show is well and truly swinging by now. Next up is Sonu Sood, who does some dangerous stuff on a motorcycle, and then flings off his shirt, both stunts draw hoots and claps. Kazooom.
2013 has been a year of the most unusual confluence in Indian cinema. The big mainstream giants shook hands with the small, individual rookies, and got a couple of the best Indian films into theatres. The 100 crore figure lost its jaw dropping quality : Bollywood welcomed its first 300 crore film with ‘Dhoom 3’. As it happens every year, the big tentpole productions made a lot of money. But this year was not all standard procedure business. A handful of films, like ‘The Ship Of Theseus’, and ‘The Lunchbox’, which redefined the definition of ‘mainstream’ coasted on novelty and creativity, and took Indian cinema into places it hadn’t been before.
The awards reflected the year that’s just got over. The Jury award went to Anand Gandhi for his marvelouslly inventive debut ‘The Ship Of Theseus’. The film got another award : Aida El Kashif as the best debutant female. Ritesh Batra got the Most Promising Debut Director for ‘The Lunchbox’, the film that may not have made it to the Oscars, but continues to steal hearts across the globe. Other new faces in the awardee list included the talented, vivacious Swara Bhaskar ( ‘Raanjhana’, Best Supporting Female), who made a most rousing thank you speech.
The writing awards usually tell you where the industry is going : the top awards in this segment were snaffled by the most arresting films ,The Best Screenplay went to the jubilant trio of Hansal Mehta, Apurva Asrani and Sameer Gautam Singh ( who also got it for Best Dialogues) for the most courageous film of 2013, ‘Shahid’. US-based Mohan Sikka, who wrote the short story ‘Railway Aunty, on which ‘BA Pass’ was based, got it for Best Story.
One of my favourite performances also got an award : Saurabh Shukla for his practical and pragmatic judge in ‘Jolly LLB’ as the Best Supporting Actor. And Swanand Kirkire took away the Best Lyricist trophy for the melodious ‘Kai Po Che’s ‘Manjha’ , my top song of the year.
The Best Ensemble Cast went to Club 60’, whose leading man Farooque Shaikh passed away just a couple of weeks go. The team comes up, takes the award on ‘Farooque Sa’ab’s behalf’, and a lump comes to the throat.
Ranveer Singh, the guy whose rub-the-back-of-the-head move has become a dance floor craze, came on to do a jig. And joust with the host. And then it was time for the big ‘uns.
The ‘Outstanding contribution award’ went to Ronnie Screwvala, the man behind UTV, the studio which has been consistently doing some excellent work, producing and distributing both big and small cinema. And which introduced professional practices in Bollywood. The award was handed over, most appropriately, by the man who is now trying to get into the same space, producer-director Karan Johar.
The Best Director went to Shoojit Sircar for his ‘Madras Café’, a most unusual Bollywood film in that it was based on recent history ( the Sri Lanka conflict, and the assassination of an Indian Prime Minister : they didn’t name him, but we knew it was Rajiv Gandhi), and was as grittily realistic as a mainstream film can be.
Fittingly, the Ramnath Goenka award also went to ‘Madras Café’. Chairman of the Express Group, Vivek Goenka, who instituted this award, spoke about how tough it was to choose the film, which reflected the principles of founder Ramnath Goenka, and the group. The winner, he said, ticked all the boxes, and was a film that ‘Ramnathji would have enjoyed watching!’
The Lifetime Achievement Award went to Amitabh Bachchan, ‘ rishtey mein woh sab ke baap lagtey hain’, as Shah Rukh pithily put it : Vidhu Vinod Chopra and Shatrughan Sinha, one time co-star and now better known as Sonakshi’s father, gave away the award. Sinha came up with an affectionate citation, calling Bachchan ‘hamaare nyaare pyaare Amitabh’ : very, very Shotgun. Bachchan accepted with characteristic humility : very, very Amitabh.
The big winner ( Best Film) of the evening was ‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’, Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s biopic on the life of one of ace athlete Milkha Singh. The Best Child Actor went to Japtej Singh, who plays the young Milkha; the senior Milkha, essayed by Farhan Akhtar, took away the Best Actor ( Jury) award. we predict he will sweep all the awards this year. As will the Screen Best Actress, Deepika Padukone, who was nominated for two films, ‘ Chennai Express’, and ‘ Goliyon Ki Rasleela, Ram Leela’, and who won it for both : she got both the Jury and Popular choice awards. And host Shah Rukh Khan switched to the other side for accepting his the Best Actor ( Popular Choice ) award for ‘Chennai Express.
We will leave you with the sight of the enticing Deepika swirling on a nagaada. Until next year, when we meet again, same place, same time. Adios.