If one didn’t know better, the India International Film Awards (IIFA) held yesterday night in Toronto could well have seemed actor Shah Rukh Khan’s personal stage show. To be fair, he was the only true-blue Bollywood super-star at this celeb-starved event, attended by some of the most excitable, celeb-hungry fans of Hindi film-stars in the entire world. South Asian Torontonians’ love for Bollywood could shock the faint-hearted. They wouldn’t stop screaming all day, all night, whether outside the Fairmont Royal York Hotel, where the movie heroes stayed, at the event’s green carpet, or inside the Roger Centre, the venue of the awards’ night. If there was anyone who could vaguely match the over-the-top enthusiasm of this crowd, it was probably the loud, hysterical Anil Kapoor, host of one of the segments of the night.
Once every few minutes, some of the other filmies who’d flown down from Mumbai to the Ontario capital found their moments of shining glory. But it was pretty much SRK, who shone through the night. He hosted two lengthy segments, opening and closing the programme. His final set was an audience interactive show of its own. He picked up 'best actor' trophy for My Name Is Khan, from two-time Oscar winner Hillary Swank, no less. His director Karan Johar was awarded 'best director' for My Name Is Khan. His buddy Arjun Rampal was adjudged 'best supporting actor' for Prakash Jha’s Rajneeti. His 'Rab Ne Banadi Jodi debutant' Anushka Sharma was chosen best actor (female)….
Still, so far as number of trophies go, the night belonged to Salman Khan’s Dabangg: six awards in all, including ‘best film’ that producers Arbaaz Khan and Malaika Arora received from Ontario's premier. Hollywood coolio Cuba Gooding Jr had earlier given out the director's prize to Johar. Cuba said he wanted to participate in this "phenomenon" called Bollywood, “I’m bowled over by the sheer power of the Indian film industry across the globe.” The Indian actors and performers who walked up on stage, on the other hand, had pretty much one thing to say, “Hello Toronto” (to a screaming crowd). “What’s up Toronto” (to a screaming crowd again). Their speeches were usually longer than their audiences’ attention spans. Dharmendra spoke and stood on stage for far more minutes than any awards show might ever allow, as did Sharmila Tagore, Asha Bhosle, and several others.
The monotony of this dampened no spirits though; largely because of fine hosts Riteish Deshmukh (who, by the way, also bagged the best comedian's award for Housefull!) and Boman Irani (haven't seen a better Saif Ali Khan impersonation than his). A terrific tribute to Asha Bhosle in the form of Priyanka Chopra's dance medley, to music from the legend's career, was certainly the evening's best performance.
This was the first IIFA award in North America. It lasted over five hours, non-stop. South Asians of Toronto had waited for at least three hours before the marathon show to grab their seats. Nothing seemed to bog them down. Malaika Arora put it best when she asked the crowd from the stage, “You’ve been at it forever. What do you people eat?” Seriously.
And the winners were…
Playback singer (female): Mamata Sharma for Munni Badnaam Hui (Dabangg)
Playback singer (male): Rahat Fateh Ali Khan for Tere Mast Mast Do Nain (Dabangg)
Music director: Sajid-Wajid, Lalit Pandit (Dabangg)
Best lyricist: Niranjan Iyengar for Sajda (My Name Is Khan)
Screenplay: Abhinav Kashyap, Dilip Shukla (Dabangg)
Dialogue: Vishal Bhardwaj (Ishqiya)
Outstanding achievement in cinema: Sharmila Tagore
50 years’ contribution to Indian Cinema: Dharmendra
Debutant actor (male): Ranveer Singh
Debutant actor (female): Sonakshi Sinha
Best actor (in a comic role): Riteish Deshmukh (Housefull)
Best actor (in a negative role): Sonu Sood (Dabangg)
Supporting actor (female): Prachi Desai (Once Upon A Time In Mumbai)
Supporting actor (male): Arjun Rampal (Rajneeti)
Actor (female): Anushka Sharma (Band Baaja Baraat)
Actor (male): Shah Rukh Khan (My Name Is Khan)