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As quicksilver star dancer Shahid Kapoor descended on the stage, the music swelled and the fireworks went up in beautifully orchestrated bursts. It was time for Lights, Camera, Action, as it all came together for the Kamla Pasand 20th Annual Life OK Screen Awards.
The Screen song filled the air. “Dhak dhak dil dil, dil dil dhak dhak” perfectly encapsulated the mood of the evening: Indian hearts beat loudest for movies. And the Screen awards, the most respected in the industry, kickstarted the awards season to honour the best and brightest in Bollywood and in Marathi cinema, which continues to astonish with its startlingly original talent.
The year gone by was Indian cinema’s centenary year. In his opening remarks, Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari, the chief guest, held out some awards of his own: single-window clearance for filmmaking, overhauling the archaic Cinematograph Act, nod for the Rs 600 crore National Film Heritage Mission, and the opening of The Museum Of Indian Cinema in Mumbai soon.
As anchor Shah Rukh Khan arrived, dapper in a sharp black suit, the temperature rose perceptibly. The audience was waiting for the superstar: he grinned, and we could see his dimple flash all the way across the MMRDA Grounds.
Yo Yo Honey Singh entertained with a rap medley, including his popular “Blue Eyes”, and the show was well and truly swinging. Next up was Sonu Sood, who did some dangerous stuff on a motorcycle, and then flung off his shirt — both stunts drew hoots and claps.
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 Rs 100 crore figure lost its jaw-dropping quality: Bollywood welcomed its first Rs 300 crore film with Dhoom 3. As it happens every year, the big tent-pole 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 meaning of “mainstream”, coasted on novelty and creativity, and took Indian cinema to places it hadn’t been before.
The awards reflected the year that just got over. The Special Jury Award went to Anand Gandhi for his marvelously inventive debut The Ship Of Theseus. The film got another award, as Aida El-Kashef bagged the Most Promising Newcomer (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 list of awardees included the talented Swara Bhaskar (Best Supporting Actor Female — Raanjhana).
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 trio of Hansal Mehta, Apurva Asrani and Sameer Gautam Singh (who also got Best Dialogue) 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 Best Story.
Saurabh Shukla won the Best Supporting Actor (Male) for his role as the practical and pragmatic judge in Jolly LLB. And Swanand Kirkire took the Best Lyricist trophy for the melodious Manjha from Kai Po Che. The Best Ensemble Cast went to Club 60, whose leading man Farooque Shaikh died recenty.
Ranveer Singh, 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 ones.
The Outstanding Contribution to Cinema 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. 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 realistic as a mainstream film can be.
Fittingly, the Ramnath Goenka Memorial Award also went to Madras Café. The Chairman of the Express Group, Vivek Goenka, who instituted this award, spoke about how difficult 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. Vidhu Vinod Chopra and Shatrughan Sinha gave away the award. Sinha came up with an affectionate citation, calling Bachchan “hamaare nyaare pyaare Amitabh”. Bachchan accepted with characteristic humility.
The big winner of the evening was Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (Best Film), Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s biopic on the life 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 Raasleela — Ram Leela, and 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 Best Actor (Popular Choice ) award for Chennai Express.
And with that, the starry evening drew to a close. Until next year, when we will meet again, same place, same time. Adios.