The past couple of days, everyone from the hotel gatekeeper to the cabbie on the road (and they’re all South Asians), have just asked one question: Is Shah Rukh Khan coming? Yes. He finally came. Over half a thousand Canadian-Indians saw him in the morning at the airport. And in the words of IIFA host Boman Irani, Toronto must have been “conquered”. SRK’s hotel lobby was certainly attacked by fans thereafter.
Speculation over whether he would or wouldn’t make it was centered on the super-star’s aching knee. He said it’d been giving him a lot of trouble lately. But that shouldn't stop him from performing at the awards’ night. The actor addressed a press conference to plug Kingdom Of Dreams, the entertainment park in Gurgaon that’s owned by Wizcraft, the organisers of IIFA. Being his usual self, SRK entertained the press posse, even singing for them a line from the Kishore Kumar number, ‘Main hoon jumroo...’ This is saving grace for IIFA all right.
Salman Khan didn’t make it; neither did Amitabh Bachchan (of course). Aishwarya, Abhishek, as we’ve realised, had better news to deliver. Ranbir Kapoor’s busy shooting, and Hrithik’s not coming in either -- so say their respective dads Rishi and Rakesh. What does that leave Toronto’s seriously celeb-starved desis with? Well, SRK for sure.
How come all top stars never quite make it to the same place at the same time ever anymore? Have their shoes become too big to fit into one stage? Possibly. Shah Rukh says everyone has his or her own things to do, it’s hard to coordinate dates etc. Date problems, of course -- that age-old, standard excuse to settle all Bollywood disputes. Too convenient. We ignore.
All fashion, some film
Shah Rukh Khan says he’s tired of hugs from beautiful girls. By now, he should be. He asked actor Anushka Sharma instead for a “passionate kiss”. He needn’t worry about his wife, he said, she’s far away: “What happens in Toronto, stays in Toronto!”
Anushka was the hostess of IIFA Rocks, an evening of fashion and music that preceded the main awards’ night. Karan Johar was her co-host. While Karan's Hindi far is far from perfect, Anushka seemed to have a tough time reading from the teleprompter. The star of the show was probably Sonu Niigaam again. He lip-synched a self-composed song of love with Michael Jackson’s brother Jermaine; put up a fairly impressive medley by mixing popular qawaalis to rock.
Cricketer Brett Lee walked the ramp. So did actors Bipasha Basu, Sonakshi Sinha, Neha Dhupia, Zayed Khan, Rahul Khanna... Shankar Ehsaan Loy's live act made for the fashion show's superb background score. Between the frills, most may not have noticed, there were also reasonably serious IIFA awards in technical categories given out. Oh, true.
The roster was a fair blend of deserving and not-so-deserving honours. Robot picked up prizes for art direction, special effects, make-up; Guzaarish for cinematography; Love, Sex Aur Dhokha for sound design; My Name Is Khan for background score and Band Baaja Baraat for editing, sound-recording, costume....
Road leads to RK
We’re not sure if there are too many Indian roads named after Bollywood legends, besides a street or few in Mumbai. Otherwise India is a country where the streets have neta’s name. Thankfully, non-resident Indians can change that for where they live. Brampton is a far-off suburb of Toronto with a 75 per cent South Asian population.
And they have named one of their roads after the late, great director-actor Raj Kapoor. His three sons, Randhir, Rishi and Rajeev, besides their mom Krishna, were there at the quaint Rose Theatre for the felicitation. The mayor gifted them a plaque of the street sign that read, “Raj Kapoor Crescent”. The family gifted the mayor a copy of a coffee-table Raj Kapoor biography with the immortal line from RK’s Jaan Hazir Hai: ‘Hum na rahenge. Tum na rahoge. Phir bhi rahengi nishaniyan (You won’t be around. I won’t be either. We’ll still leave a mark’’). Touching.
You’d imagine a moment like this would befit a discussion on RK’s life and times and films. Sample the questions Rishi and Randhir got to field: One: “My aunt is a cousin of Neetu Singh, she says hi.” “Hi”, said Rishi. Two: “Are you guys looking out for aspiring directors?” Three.... Oh, never mind.
Tharoor’s here, retweet!
In his younger days, we’re told, politician, former diplomat and India’s current Twitter champion, Shashi Tharoor, could pass off for a handsome movie star. Not many know, he’s also written a novel called Show Business, set around Bollywood. This may explain Tharoor’s presence at IIFA for the second time in a row (he was also there last year in Colombo).
But it turns out what keeps pulling him back to this award show is his wife Sunanda. She’s a huge film-buff, she knows all about Bollywood music and its stars, Tharoor says. He himself doesn’t get time to watch as many films as he could when he was much younger.
The television reporter next to us still kept pressing Tharoor to reveal his favourite film-star. “I don’t have any favourites.” Still, there must be a favourite, “I like them all.” Yet, there must be that one person. “I am a politician. You can’t get an answer to a question like that from me.” Spoken more like a diplomat, we’d say.