By Subhash K. Jha, IANS
Mumbai, Feb 27 (IANS) Dev Anand was incredulous while announcing the 'Best Villain' at the Filmfare Awards. It was none other than Priyanka Chopra for her career-transforming performance in Abbas-Mustan's "Aitraaz"!
"Where's your trophy!" the evergreen Anand wondered, clutching on to his own 'The Golden Glory Viewers Choice Award' (an honour he shared with Rekha) when Priyanka Chopra waltzed seductively up to the stage.
Alas, Priyanka's trophy was nowhere to be seen. She handled the delay with grace. "Aisa hota hai (it happens sometimes)," she laughed, when I spoke to her after the show.
"It's all part of such an event. And it's up to the winners to behave like winners in spite of glitches."
Unfortunately the evening's compere Saif Ali Khan (a disaster without his fellow-anchor of two years Shah Rukh Khan) showed no grace when he was called on stage by Dev Anand to collect his trophy for 'Best Actor In A Comic Role' in "Hum Tum".
Other major goof-ups included the event's new eleventh-hour sponsor asking the winner for art direction (Sabu Cyril) if he painted on canvas or if he was associated with cinema.
A lack of co-ordination between the anchors and the celebrities couldn't take away from the glamour and star appeal of the evening.
Rani Mukherjee (once again, the recipient of two awards for "Hum Tum" and "Yuva"), Priyanka Chopra and Sonu Nigam paid elaborate song-and-dance tributes to the film stars and music over the decades.
This reverence for cinematic history, an offshoot of the Filmfare Awards entering their 50th year, was a refreshing change from the titillation of the usual stage performances by stars.
Once again the Bachchans - Amitabh and Abhishek - and Shah Rukh Khan dazzled at the awards. Once again they proved they have no peers.
When Abhishek won the award for 'Best Supporting Actor' in "Yuva", it took him quite a while to reach the stage.
The volume of congratulations from friends and fans proved how popular the junior Bachchan has become in the last one year.
Abhishek dragged his father on stage and gave his award to his father saying: "As I believe there can be no actor better than my father, this award belongs to him."
The senior Bachchan promptly returned the recognition saying it was a tradition to give the son whatever the father earns in life.
Great showmanship, topped by Shah Rukh Khan's performance of cinematic romance over the years, from Rajesh Khanna singing "Roop tera mastana" to Sharmila Tagore in "Aradhana" to, Shah Rukh singing "Ladki badi anjani" to Kajol in "Kuch Kuch Hota Hai"..., Shah Rukh enacted all of them with habitual élan.
What's more, all the original screen queens, from Vyjanthimala and Sharmila Tagore to Zeenat Aman, Jaya Prada and Rekha, to Rani Mukherjee and Preity Zinta joined Shah Rukh for this astonishing piece of on-stage virtuosity. It was the highlight of the evening.
Shah Rukh Khan bagged two awards he richly deserved. 'The Best Actor' award went to him for "Swades". When he received Filmfare's 'Power Award', Shah Rukh said the real power was Amitabh Bachchan's performance in Sanjay Leela Bhansali's "Black".
Another winner who displayed generous grace was Anu Malik, who acknowledged the late Madan Mohan's tunes for "Veer-Zara" over his own "Main Hoon Na".
And Kunal Ganjawala, the winner for 'Best Male Playback', paid heartwarming compliments to the evening's special guest Lata Mangeshkar when he said: "To me you are the film industry."
All in all, this year's Filmfare Awards were far more empowered by a sense of historicity than during previous years.
Shah Rukh Khan, the Bachchans, Dev Anand and others made up for Saif Ali Khan's pathetic anchoring - and the conspicuous absentees like 'Best Debutante' Ayesha Takia.
If she had other more pressing engagements, did she deserve the honour?