Ranbir Kapoor, Varun Dhawan, Arjun Kapoor, Bobby Deol set the stage on fire with their vibrant energy, backed by superb backup dancers.
Inspire of the low-key buildup to the three-day event, the International Indian Film Academy (Iifa) Awards in Bangkok concluded with a bang, on Sunday night in Bangkok, after two days of hectic film activities. It was nearly 3 am, when the spectacular Iifa show ended at the Siam Niramit hall, delighting a packed auditorium old young and old movie fans, many of whom were dancing on the aisles, during the popular song-dance numbers.
The young stars of this year’s show — Ranbir Kapoor, Varun Dhawan, Arjun Kapoor, Bobby Deol — set the stage on fire with their vibrant energy, backed by stunning seats and superb back-up dancers. But it was diva Rekha, with her gorgeous Mughlai costumes, old-world dance numbers, elegant grace and style who had the stars and public on their feet screaming for more. She seemed to enjoy every moment of it, as she was hugged by the young stars on stage and asked for more ‘tareef’!
Earlier there were poignant moments of emotion, when the late actress Sridevi’s contribution to the film industry of the whole country, was enumerated by brother-in-law Anil Kapoor, watched by her emotional husband Boney Kapoor who was consoled by his son Arjun Kapoor.
Sridevi won the Iifa Best Actress Award for her last film Mom, which husband Boney Kapoor accepted, and told the audience that he hoped they would give his daughter Jahnvi, now on the threshold of a movie career, the same love and support that they had given her mother.
Nawazuddin Siddiqui won the Best Supporting Actor award for the same film and spoke emotionally of his interaction with Sridevi and his admiration of her. MP Amar Singh, who knew her well, also paid a tribute to her, after which the audience maintained a moment of silence for the great actress. Shashi Kapoor was also remembered, in another wonderful tribute by brother Rishi Kapoor and his son Ranbir Kapoor, the former said that Shashi Kapoor’s greatest contribution to Mumbai’s cinema, was that he acted in big films, so that he could support the small movies.
Anupam Kher was presented the Iifa Award for Outstanding Achievement in Indian Cinema and spoke of his rags to riches life-tory when, as a Kashmiri Brahmin, he had to feel from his home-state. He came to Mumbai with no money, home, but only hope in his heart.
This year’s competition film sat Iifa, were mostly non-commercial ones, and it was heart-warming see movies like Newton, Hindi Medium, Tumhari Sulu winning the Iifa Awards (see list for award-winners). Indie artistes like Radhika Apte, Konkona Sen, Rahul Roy were happy to attend the Iifa event, this year. Mumbai’s commercial hit- director Subhash Ghai insisted that the movies should be called ‘Hindi’ films and not ‘Bollywood’ films! It was a ‘Kapoor’ sweep at this year’s Iifa event, with Anil Kapoor stealing the show as dancer, announcer, a ward-presenter. Not far behind, was Arjun Kapoor with his loud talk, energetic action, and he won Iifa’s award for talented newcomers, with a new NEXA car!
The hosts of the Iifa show were the seasoned Karan Johar, Riteish Deshmukh as also youngsters Ayushmann Khurrana and Kartik Aaryan. Karan Johar was at the butt-end of many jokes, which he handled with impressive humour and poise, including about his shaadi and do bacha. A noisy bhangra dance number was performed by his star-colleagues, as a rehearsal for his sangeet.
Among the actreeses, Kriti Sanon and Shraddha Kapoor sizzled on the stage with their lithe movements, and on the green carpet with their gorgeous outfits The green carpet walks are always a highlight of the Iifa Awards, and this year, the stars stunned with their sartorial style, as well as friendly conversations with the media. These included artistes like Julia Vantur, Urvashi Rautela, Nushrat Bharucha
All of them raved over Bangkok, a city they all seemed to know, love, and never tire off. Sabbas Joseph, director Wizcraft International, who have organized the Iifa shows in as many as 12 countries around the world, informed that Bangkok was the only city where Iffa was held twice “and that’s because of the warmth and hospitality of the people.”
Dia Mirza the goodwill ambassador of the UN, spoke passionately of the plastic pollution in the world, and hoped her favourite city Bangkok would reduce on this. Among the other event, at the three-day extravaganza, was a vibrant music evening called ‘Iifa Rocks’ with the winners of the ‘technical awards’ like music, lyrics etc., as also as also a fashions-show of new lines created for Iifa by sponsor Myntra.
A unique new event was the Cinema Heritage Exhibition and Auction, organised by Neville Tuli and Osianamma, with more than 109 lots of outstanding film posters and pictures.
Tuli was pleased by the auction, where many movie-artistes like Booby Deol, Anupam Kher, Día Mirza, Anil Kapoor, bid for the film posters.
“The auction was a major step forward in persuading the Indian film fraternity regarding a shared responsibility towards nurturing our cinematic culture and preserving the rare and fragile cinematic heritage” he stated, adding “hopefully with the opening of the Osianama Research Centre, Archives and Library on 1st October 2018, the unity of the film fraternity towards this cause will be evident to the whole world.”
This event certainly uplifted the Iifa show, this year. Iifa’s focus on issues like pollution and gender equality were also impressive.
The factor one felt sorry about, was that there not more local Thais, at the Iifa show, especially as their interest in Hindi /Bollywood cinema has increased hugely since the last Iifa event was held here a decade back, in 2008.
An avid Bollywood film lover, at the green carpet, was young Rattaroon Pongpittanu, who went to India regularly to buy Hindi films, especially of his favorite actor Arjun Kapoor, in whose name he had even started an Instagram page. He could not afford to buy the expensive ticket for the main Iifa show
One hoped that for the future, Iifa would have local tickets too, instead of international packages, so that they could capitalise on the increasing popularity of Indian films with foreign audiences, around the world.
The writer is a critic and commentator on films and culture based in Bangkok, Thailand