On the eve of the 21st Life Ok Screen Awards ceremony, its venue — the MMRDA grounds in Mumbai’s Bandra Kurla Complex — is buzzing with activity. For the past few days, preparations have been underway to honour 2014’s cinematic excellence. And like every year’s edition, the ceremony on Wednesday will be dotted with spectacular acts, celebrities and heady doses of glamour, ensuring an entertaining and memorable evening.
There will be high-energy acts by Varun Dhawan and Tiger Shroff, the young actors who consolidated their position in 2014 with successes like Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhaniya and Heropanti. Another star attraction is Alia Bhatt, who will perform to chartbusters from 2 States and Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhaniya. Sonam Kapoor will bring her chic style and energy to the stage to present glimpses of Dolly Ki Doli. To keep the audience entertained, Shah Rukh Khan, with his trademark witty charm, will host a section while actor Siddharth Malhotra will anchor another segment.
For the last couple of years, Screen Awards have celebrated the triumph of small, content-driven films alongside the biggies. This year’s nominations are an iteration of that. In two of the major categories — Best Film and Best Director — small films with unconventional themes are in the running along with big-budget ones.
Films like Rajkumar Hirani’s PK and Vishal Bhardwaj’s Haider were perhaps expected to claim their stake at the awards, but it is the entry of Rajat Kapoor’s Ankhon Dekhi, Vikas Bahl’s Queen, Imtiaz Ali’s Highway and Anurag Kashyap’s Ugly that makes the fight for the Best Film trophy interesting. Kapoor and Bahl have emerged as the dark horses in the Best Director category, but the contest gets more competitive with Hirani, Kashyap and Ali in the fray.
This time, the nominations also reflect a clear trend that dominated Hindi cinema last year — the success of women-centric films. Queen, about a feisty girl who sets off on her honeymoon alone after she is dumped by her fiance, is at the top of the pack with 13 nominations. Although its lead actor, Kangana Ranaut, is a favourite in the Best Actor (Female) category, she has to contend with Rani Mukerji’s tough cop act in Mardaani, the geeky genius of Parineeti Chopra in Hasee Toh Phasee and Deepika Padukone’s earthy charm in Finding Fanny. Ranaut’s closest competition will be Bhatt, who dominated 2014 with her power-packed performance in Highway.
The speculation around the Best Actor (Male) category has intensified, with established superstars pitted against their younger contemporaries. Varun Dhawan and Randeep Hooda have earned nominations in the category for the first time, along with the usual suspects — Aamir Khan, Shah Rukh Khan and Hrithik Roshan. Although the scales are tipping towards Shahid Kapur’s stellar performance in Haider, Vishal Bhardwaj’s adaptation of Hamlet set in Kashmir, Sanjay Mishra, who impressed the audience as Aankhon Dekhi’s Bauji, may well be the surprise winner.
If there is one song that we immediately associate with 2014, it’s Baby Doll. The high-octane awards will see Kanika Kapoor, the scintillating voice behind the song, perform live. Ahead of Roy’s release, its star Jacqueline Fernandez will also up the glamour quotient at the ceremony.
The audience and the film industry have responded enthusiastically to the entry of young actors in the industry in the past couple of years. The Screen Awards’ Best Debut Male and Female categories will be a close race. Shroff, one of the favourites in this category, will thrill the audience with his stunts and dance moves. The young team of Khamoshiyan — Ali Fazal, Sapna Pabbi and Gurmeet Chaudhary — will also be there.