Monthly Archives: April 2014

Experiencing the Indian Film Awards 2014 Part 2: Saturday Awards Ceremony

I am switching up the order of my writings as this is fresh in my mind and I want to pen down all my thoughts in detail, since Saturday was the main awards ceremony. Part 3 will be the Friday night Magic of the Movies review and then I will try and post some more videos and pics too in a Part 3 sum up.

The main event, the Awards night was Saturday. Tickets said the Green Carpet (yes green, not red), starts at 430-7 and the event starts at 7. Well, not wanting to be in the middle of hundreds of screaming people in a sari in the humid heat, I skipped the green carpet, added in some Indian Standard Time for the start of the awards and arrived around 8pm for the show. First of all, parking was a mess. Yes, there were enough people directing traffic and we knew exactly where to go. But the lot to the stadium had everyone walking about 20 min in grass to get from the car to the stadium. Not very easy when you are in Indian clothes and heels. Anyway, taking up the challenge, I walked into the field level around 815 and waited..and waited..and waited. The ceremony finally started at….930. 2.5 hours late. The hosts for the evening were Shahid Kapoor and the man of all trades Farrhan Akhtar, who was up for an award for Best Actor that evening. Having researched the history of Tampa very well, they came into the stadium on a pirate ship dressed as pirates to act out the legend of Gasparilla. This was amazing for me, I was able to see them clearly as they passed by me on the left and headed for the stage. The other nice point was they spoke with and included the Mayor of Tampa in their initial script quite a bit. He was later introduced by Anil Kapoor and spoke a few words, though not greeted by the audience the way the stars were being cheered for.

Not missing a chance to hide the fact that Tampa swarms with Indian Gujurati’s Akhtar made a joke of how he always tries to speak a bit of the language of every city he hosts a show in (Singapore, Dubai, India, etc) and started speaking in pure Gujurati for the language of Tampa. At that point, the audience was in splits.

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It was apparent very early on that Farhan Akhtar is not made for hosting anything, let alone such a big awards night. While the good looking writer, director, actor, singer, writer..basically a man of all *almost* trades is excellent at what he does behind the scenes, he really is too shy and dry to be a host. His presence was anything but powerful and his delivery was nervous and without much character.
Shahid Kapoor, on the other hand, did his best to entertain and pack the energy of himself as well as whatever was lacking from Farhan into the show. He, however, needs a strong script, which he did not have, and a strong partner in crime to excel. After all, he is no Shah Rukh Khan who can hold the attention of a large stadium of people of all ages for many hours on end. Their script was full of jokes that fell flat and were funny at first but got old quickly.

Some of the noticeable flaws in the awards show included:

— Whoever was behind the scenes with the screens monitor that announced the nominations made too many mistakes. When nominations for best music director were supposed to be shown, they showed the nominations for Best Director. John Travolta’s accomplishments were finally played after he was given the award rather than before, as it should have been.

— The teleprompter was the “star” of the show. I think it got more attention than the hosts themselves at times. Shahid and Farhan were complaining about the teleprompter not being high enough and I could see it from my seat as it was directly behind me. The stage was leveled back and slightly up, not quite sure how they could read the script from there. On top of it, the teleprompter was located right between 2 aisles. Shahid Kapoor kindly asked people from the audience who were up trying to take pictures from right in front of the teleprompter that he could not see it, can they please move. about 2 hours into the show, he was in the middle of a comedy act and lost it and stopped the show and yelled “Can you pleaseeeeeeee move from the front of the teleprompter…i cant see ANYTHING”. His tone of voice was that of begging and despair. I can only imagine how frustrating it can be when you don’t know your next line. There were several times Farhan Akhtar just skipped a huge chunk of his script and left the stage, possibly because he could not see what he needed to. Unfortunately for him, to the audience, it just appeared like he forgot to introduce the next set of people.

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— The camera did not cut to the stars sitting in the front row as often as they did Friday night to gage reactions. During a speech that Anil Kapoor was giving on supporting and educating the girl child, the camera accidentally went onto Ranveer Singh, shutting down Anil Kapoor’s speech for a good few seconds with screams and applause. Of course Ranveer is a fan favorite..he actually interacted with them through the 4 days!

— The awards ceremony went until 3am. It was to conclude no later than 1130/12am. For each extra minute the stadium went past its deadline, it cost the promoters $1000. Yes, I said minute.

–Many of the stars did what they had to do and left the show within an hour or two. Again, for those that have spent money on this to see the stars, “why bother coming all the way to the USA for a couple minutes?” Kareena and Saif came, they gave away an award and left. (Rumor has it they were upset their seats were not front row and center).

–One big complaint made by people watching the show was the Penn Masala group that performed. While I will not review my thoughts on their performance I have one question to ask (as do many): Did I pay all this money to see some USA college group sing for 10 minutes? Sorry but I did not think they were very good and I believe people clapped at the end for the fact they left the stage. Phew.

–Shatrughan Sinha, who received the lifetime achievement award by his daughter Sonakshi Sinha, used his acceptance speech as a platform to rally for his political party since the elections in India are going on right now. Not sure if he thinks so many NRI’s are going to do? Fly to India to vote?

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— Siddharth Malhotra’s performance was flat. The guy is a very good looking guy(and I am a fan of his looks and acting) and got tons of noise and applause Friday night for just looking at the camera monitor and smiling. However, his performance had no energy or zest. He should stick to acting and modeling because live performing is just not his thing.

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–Rishi Kapoor’s acceptance speech for best villain was sarcastic and accepted without a smile. He drily stated how he got no respect or awards when he played a film hero for many decades so he was forced to change into a negative role. He also very sarcastically mentioned he wanted to thank Rakesh Om Prakash Mehra for this award because had that director put a villain in his movie, Bhaag Milka Bhaag, that movie would have won in this category too, like every other category. He walked into the function late and left as soon as he collected his award. Wonder how much he was paid for that?

So, what were the highlights of the show?

— Ranveer, Ranveer Ranveer. His energy, his persona with the fans, the way he danced like there was no one watching, was electrifying. Farhan Akhtar and Shahid Kapoor made a comment post Ranveer’s performance that just watching Ranveer perform is so electrifying that heir mobile phones can charge just with him being in the room. It is a true statement. He then cleaned himself up post his performance and presented the Best Actress award to girlfriend Deepika in his most “American Accent” copying many college girls precisely “OH MY GOWD HES SOOO HOT”. Everyone was in SPLITS.

–Madhuri Dixit–I think I praised her quite a bit in my last post, but like Ranveer, she started her performance in the middle of the stadium where many people were sitting. Cheered the audience on, asked if anyone would take a selfie with her and then explained how Tampa was her home for 2.5/3 years after she was married. Her husband, Dr Ram Nene, patiently sat alone in the front supporting his wife. The entire performance and persona was amazing.

–Priyanka Chopra pulling up John Travolta on stage to dance with her on her popular song from Gunday “Tune Maari Entryan”. Travolta did not disappoint and was a great sport and played alog. He was later presented by superstar Hrithik Roshan as his childhood idol and given an IIFA award.

— Kevin Spacey coming on stage to present Deepika the Entertainer of the Year Award. Once she gave her thank you speech, Shahid and Farhan told him he had to do the Lungi Dance with them. While they ran to get 4 lungi’s Kevin Spacey was asking Deepika what a lungi was as she whispered and gestured with her hands on how to put one on. The 4 stars did not disappoint to this impromptu dance that left everyone in splits. Hollywood and Bollywood integrated nicely.

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–Deepika and Priyanka’s performance was very well choreographed however Shamik Davar’s background dancers were not in synch. While they did very well, if you watched carefully, it was obvious they needed to have practiced better to dance exactly at the same time.

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–The way Bollywood honored the real Milkha Singh, the flying Sikh, who was sitting in the front row. Whoever collected each award for their part in the movie based on his life, thanked him and honored him. It was refreshing to see that respect.

All in all, I had an amazing time..however, others..who’s view of the stage and stars and zest for Bollywood was not as much as me….well, I have heard some disappointing reviews. The most frustrating part was that the show went on till 3am…come on people..don’t they say..timing is everything?

Experiencing the Indian Film Awards 2014 Part 1: Starry Attitudes

I was fortunate enough to be able to not only attend the IIFA Awards, otherwise known as the Indian Oscars, in Tampa this year but I was able to experience it very up close and personal. I stayed in a hotel where the “uppity” stars stayed, and somehow friended a lot of security officers who gave inside info, as well as having some info from a family member on the going ons of organizing this amazing event in Tampa.

The cream of the crop from Bollywood was flying into Tampa airport, where fans were lining up to meet their favorite stars. The biggest complaint was an expectation that Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan, will be attending this event as he always does. SRK, as he is fondly known, had his own demands. 1 million US dollars, 3 bodyguards, 1 rolls Royce car with a chauffeur, a 2 bedroom suite accommodation, a first class ticket and all expenses paid..to only attend (Not perform or host). Looks like that was not possible since he did not show up. Sad, but business is business. Kareena Kapoor and Saif Ali Khan, the power couple, asked to be shifted from the Hilton where all the other stars were staying to the Marriott because they did not like the hotel.

Unfortunately, in general, most of the bigger stars, were least interested in interacting with their fans, in any way. While the ones staying at the Tampa Hilton made appearances now and then to a big crowd of onlookers waiting for them to go in and out of the hotel, some of them would just wave and continue onwards to their car or into the hotel. 3 film old Parineeti Chopra got out of her car to a mass amount of screaming fans yelling her name on either side of the hotel. She walked right past with a small wave disappointing many fans. Not that she had not interacted in the past, perhaps just tired of all the drama?

The worst and most unfriendly to the public and fans was the Kapoor family. All of them stayed at the Marriott Marina Bay and none of them were interested in interacting even once with any of the fans, who had, mind you, paid hundreds of dollars to come see them. Kareena Kapoor was spotted in the lobby several times, looked down and refused to even look at anyone other than the floor. When approached she flatly declined any photo opportunities or autographs. The security officials who were interacting with people in the lobby were curious asking why she was so rude to everyone. Apparently they had also been treated in a similar manner when trying to assist her through the lobby and the gym as security.
Her father Randhir Kapoor and husband Saif Ali Khan were a bit better as was her uncle Rajiv Kapoor. Rajiv Kapoor did say yes for a pic but when it took a second longer to get my camera ready he rudely and loudly said “I am in a hurry so if you can’t get it, i gotto go.” Not quite sure where a yesteryear has been actor was in such a hurry to go to in the middle of the day.
However that rude factor was very clear in the entire family. Most fans at that point wondered, “why come then? you should have stayed home” The rudeness factor and the effect it had on the fans was quite apparent when on Friday night, Kareena barely got any kind of applause and her performance was greeted as coldly by her fans as she was to them. Another cold Kapoor was Rishi Kapoor. In the lobby of the Marriott, a 15 yr old girl asked to click a pic with him and he rudely told her no and walked away.

Another shocking moment was when Shabana Azmi, who was promoting her charity work, was asked to come speak for the same charity at someone’s house. She told them she would, if they paid her $15,000. Anyone think that money was going to charity?

Upcoming stars such as Richa Chaddha from Ram Leela fame, Gauhaur Khan,Vaani Kapoor, Mika Singh or stars wanting to make a comeback such as Gulshan Grover and Govinda pleased their fans a lot more interacting with the fans, taking selfies and spending time with the crowds. The shy Farhan Akhtar tried his best to quickly take some pictures with his fans and gave them the attention they deserved. Famous director Mukesh Bhatt would spend all afternoon in the lobby of the Marriott hotel drinking Starbucks and gladly obliging for pics and convos with anyone who approached him. I had a nice conversation with him about movies, his most recent hit and his niece Alia Bhatt. He never made any one feel uncomfy or that he was a celeb. The next day he waved and said hi to me.

The A-listers who understood that people came to see them and it was their job to interact with fans were few and far between. Madhuri Dixit made several appearances and even started her performance in the Saturday awards show in the middle of the upper level where everyone was seated. Sure, she was mobbed by her fans and security even struggled to keep it under control. However, as cool as she is, she accepted her fans love for her and offered to take selfies with her fans during her performance. Anil Kapoor was friendly to mostly everyone as he was the ambassador of IIFA from Bollywood. Many had bumped into him at restaurants and he gladly obliged to speak to people. The person who was a fan favorite was Ranveer Singh. Crazy, energetic and full of love for his fans, he took down the barriers at the airport between him and his fans and went straight into the crowd, signed autographs, took pictures, took selfies with fans and was gladly accepting the mobbing by all women young and old. He again did the same thing during his performance and started his performance inside the crowd and allowed security to do their jobs while he interacted with hundreds of screaming girls who wanted to marry him and have him take off his shirt. Now I wouldn’t have minded seeing that! Shahid Kapoor also took some time and did his hosting of the awards ceremony sitting amongst the public for a few minutes pleasing many people who had bought tickets that were not in the field section.

All in All, Bollywood didn’t understand that they were being PAID to attend this weekend to interact with fans…most of whom had spent hundreds and even thousands of dollars just to get a few pics with their favorite celebs and see them in real life. Instead, most of them acted like they were doing charity work and a favor to the public. Careful celebs, everyone must remember the law: whatever goes up…must come down. And that is when they will need their fans the most.

What was your experience at IIFA 2014? Do you think the celebs could have been more courteous?