A historical epic about the romance between a Muslim Mughal king and a Hindu princess and a thriller about a policeman's attempt to thwart a terror plot in Mumbai will compete for honors at the International Indian Film Academy's annual awards.
Director Ashutosh Gowariker's epic romance Jodhaa Akbar with its lavish sets and costumes was nominated in all 13 categories of the 10th IIFA Awards, including best picture and best director. Ghajini, the story of a telecom mogul suffering from amnesia who tries to avenge the death of his girlfriend, and A Wednesday about the Mumbai police commissioner's handling of a blackmailing call seeking the release of militants, are also top contenders in Saturday's awards.
The three films will vie for best picture honors against the Miami-set romance Dostana, the South Africa-set crime thriller Race, and Rock On!! about the reunion of an Indian rock band.
Jodhaa Akbar star, heartthrob Hrithik Roshan, is up for best actor honors, facing off against Aamir Khan, the telecom businessman in Ghajini, Naseeruddin Shah, the blackmailer in A Wednesday, Abhishek Bachchan from Dostana and Shah Rukh Khan from the romantic comedy Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, or Match Made in Heaven.
Bachchan's wife, former Miss World Aishwarya Rai is a best actress nominee for her role as the Hindu princess in Jodhaa Akbar.
Her competition includes Asin, who only goes by one name, from Ghajini, Katrina Kaif from the comedy Singh is Kinng, Bipasha Basu from Race and another former beauty queen, Priyanka Chopra, who plays a model attempting a comeback in Fashion.
Gowariker told reporters Thursday that he considered the 13 nominations for "Jodhaa Akbar" an achievement in itself and wasn't too anxious about the results. He said researching his movie, which is based on historical characters, was a tough challenge. "It becomes very, very important that you try and have a responsible attitude while making the entire movie, with regards to research and getting everything right. So that has made it a tough film," Gowariker said.
Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire composer A.R. Rahman was nominated twice in the best music direction category for his work on both Jodhaa Akbar and Ghajini"
Bachchan, the son of veteran Indian actor Amitabh Bachchan, is also up for best performance in his comic role for Dostana" Highlighting the importance of song in Indian film, the IIFA awards also features prizes for so-called "playback singers", the actual voices behind the songs that are lip-synched by movie stars on screen.
This year's winners will be announced at an awards ceremony at The Venetian Macao hotel-casino in the coastal gambling enclave Macau, where IIFA is holding its annual weekend roadshow in a bid to promote Bollywood in China and other parts of eastern Asia. The nominations were determined by a poll of members of the Indian film industry, with the nominees put to an Internet vote to decide the winners.