Many firsts in Screen awards this year...

Indo-Asian News Service

imageMumbai, (IANS) The film award season is almost upon us with the first of the lot, the Hero Honda 12th Annual Star Screen Awards, on Jan 11.

This year's award function at the NSE Grounds in Mumbai is going to be different in many ways. For the first time, the evening will have a theme -- 'Amchi Mumbai'. Then, unlike other award functions where stars anchor the show, the hosts this time are STAR TV's five laughter champions -- Raju Srivastav, Sunil Pal, Naveen Prabhakar, Bhagwat Man and Ahsaan Qureshi.

They starred in the hit STAR One TV show "The Great Indian Laughter Challenge".

Also, of course, Amitabh Bachchan, a regular at most award functions, will be conspicuous by his absence as he is still recovering from his intestinal surgery.

Said STAR India's Senior Marketing Vice President Ajay Vidyasagar: "Amitabh Bachchan was unwell. Though he is recovering, I don't think he would be able to attend the function."

Asked why he chose STAR TV's laughter champions to host the show, Vidyasagar told IANS: "Laughter champions are one of the best things that have happened to STAR. In the past we have had celebrity hosts from the film and television industry. Last year, we had Sajid Khan so this time we wanted to do something different and the laughter champions were the best option."

The small screen champs are ready to take on the challenge of entertaining their favourite stars in 'bindaas Mumbaiya ishtyle' as per the theme and tickle many funny bones.

Said Raju Srivastav: "STAR Screen is a very prestigious event for me to be associated with and I am very happy to be one of the hosts for this big night. It's a more responsible role, to be performing in front of the who's who of the film fraternity. I am looking forward to performing in front of Aamir Khan and Shah Rukh Khan because I have learned a lot from them."

The other highlight of the evening would be performances by stars like Rani Mukerji, Akshay Kumar, Tanushree Dutta, Tanisha Mukherjee, Bipasha Basu and Zayed Khan.

Television stars would also add to the glamour. Shweta Tiwari, Juhi Parmar, Natassha and Mona Wasu would be performing as well.

Rehearsals are on in full swing for the evening, Vidyasagar disclosed.

In another first, this year STAR Screen Awards has a special feature titled Hero Honda STAR Jodi No.1 - the perfect 'made for each other' on-screen couple. The nominees are Saif Ali Khan and Preity Zinta ("Salaam Namaste"); Abhishek Bachchan and Rani Mukerji ("Bunty Aur Babli"); Shah Rukh Khan and Rani Mukerji ("Paheli") and Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif ("Maine Pyar Kyun Kiya").

The voting is on and the result will be announced on the D-day.

The awards have been in the eye of the proverbial storm after it nominated well-known Assamese filmmaker Jahnu Barua in the Best Debut Director category for his critically acclaimed film "Maine Gandhi Ko Nahin Mara" starring Anupam Kher and Urmila Matondkar. Both the director and the actor have decided to boycott the function.

But, as they say, the show will go on, notwithstanding controversies and complaints.

Here are nominations for the Hero Honda 12th Annual STAR Screen Awards 2005:

Best Film:

1. "Apaharan" - Prakash Jha

2. "Black" - Anshuman Swami, Sanjay Leela Bhansali

3. "Iqbal" - Subhash Ghai (Mukta Arts)

4. "Parineeta" - Vidhu Vinod Chopra

5. "Sarkar" - Ram Gopal Varma, Parag Sanghvi

6. "Yahaan" - Gary S, Shoojit Sircar, Robby Grewal

Best Director:

1. Nagesh Kukunoor ("Iqbal")

2. Prakash Jha ("Apaharan")

3. Ram Gopal Varma ("Sarkar")

4. Sanjay Leela Bansali ("Black")

5. Sudhir Mishra ("Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi")

Best Actor (Male):

1. Ajay Devgan ("Apaharan")

2. Amitabh Bachchan ("Black")

3. Saif Ali Khan ("Parineeta")

4. Shah Rukh Khan ("Paheli")

5. Shahid Kapur ("Shikhar")

Best Actor (Female):

1. Juhi Chawla ("My Brother Nikhil")

2. Konkona Sen Sharma ("Page 3")

3. Preity Zinta ("Salaam Namaste")

4. Rani Mukerji ("Black")

5. Sharmila Tagore ("Viruddh")

Best Debut Director:

1. Jahnu Barua ("Maine Gandhi Ko Nahin Maara")

2. Mohit Suri ("Zeher")

3. Onirban ("My Brother Nikhil")

4. Pradeep Sarkar ("Parineeta")

5. Shoojit Sircar ("Yahaan")