Zee Cine Awards 2008 - Bollywood awards forego politics to reward deserving recipients

By Fuad Omar, Bollywood Hungama News Network

It was supposed to be an evening of mishaps, chaos, and terrible organization. This was what was expected if previous Bollywood award shows are anything to go by.

Fortunately, for film fans, this award function was different. Yes the venue was hot, the organization chaotic and the show began late and finished later. But the galaxy of stars that descended on London during the Lux Zee Cine Awards 2008 and the deserved award choices themselves more than made up for any shortcomings.

Opening with a great tribute to yesteryears stars courtesy of Zee's Sa Re Ga Ma team, film fans were delighted to see a young boy render a few lines from Junglee while being spurred on by the great Shammi Kapoor. Zeenat Aman, Padmini Kohlapure, Poonam Dhillon, Govinda and Fardeen Khan were also targeted in what was a sweet nod to the songs of Hindi cinema through the ages and those who made them their own. Once Karan Johar and Sajid Khan appeared on stage they made it known they would pull no punches in poking fun at the mad world that is a kaleidoscope of colors. Delivering quips in good faith, they gave the Oscars a run for their money where entertaining and self-deprecating hosts are concerned. Chunky Pandey followed this tradition by pushing the envelope further and drew ecstatic laughs.

Performance wise the only highlights were an acapella piece by British sens-asian Jay Sean and his crew who captivated an audience with no orchestra, just simple beats, and harmonies. The sight of these three young men in comparison to the elaborate dances that had preceded them, were a testimony to the fact that talent can manifest in small numbers as well as droves. Completely in his element, Jay Sean ruled the stage as he has often done on an international stage and delivered notes that had some of the audience's women weak at the knees. The other note-worthy performance was a fun-filled song from Om Shanti Om where Shah Rukh Khan left his audience breathless; reminding them how much fun they keep missing when he's not on tour. Hands clapped, people cheered and dancing in the aisles was no longer relegated to Indian cinemas as a host of Bollywood stars got London out of their seats to groove to the infectious beat in a sequence that celebrated the film fraternity's bond of brotherhood. With appearances on stage from Arjun Rampal, Saif Ali Khan, Neha Dhupia, Dia Mirza, Dino Morea, and others, shuffling in and out of the wings akin to the magical moments created in the film version.

The not-so-noteworthy performances came from Vidya Balan who failed to translate her grace and mastery of the screen onto the stage. Upen Patel, the much-hyped bad boy of Britain proved to only be terrible at oozing charisma, failing to ignite, excite, or entertain. Seeing his performance and the over-the-top attitude he portrays in his sluggish dancing only re-ascertains the fact that the new crowd have a lot to learn from the real pros. Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor delivered decent acts but did a by-the-books routine which only mirrored what they had done elsewhere. Katrina Kaif performed well but her confidence slipped to nervousness at regular points bringing down what could have been strong debut performance on an international stage.

Among the biggest highlights of the evening were the awards, which saw artistes who had been previously overlooked get their just rewards. Aamir Khan, known for not attending award functions has often been neglected from the scene for this very reason, but his film was given two gongs in the Best Director and Most Promising Child Debut categories. Govinda got a Best Supporting Actor award for Partner, an important award to an artiste who was not considered an actor for years, peaked in the 90's then disappeared off the screen only resurfacing in recent times to as much love as he generated 15 years ago. Shilpa Shetty won the Best Supporting Actress award and dedicated her award to London, a city that has given her so much in recent times, and to Metro - the film that gave her a good role, a brilliant script and an opportunity to break the mould and conventions of popular commercial cinema to widespread attention.

The Best Actor in a Negative Role went to Arjun Rampal for Om Shanti Om. It was a moment when a hardworking actor who has given his all to his profession and not coasted through it like some of his contemporaries, was finally given acceptance. Arjun Rampal has always set the screen on fire but his looks have often overshadowed the intensity and depth he can bring to a role. He deserved this long-overdue accolade and I'll go on record to say he deserves a Best Actor award next year for his work in the forthcoming The Last Lear, which has been delayed by almost a year but still looks fresh in a timeless tale of obsession, passion and movies. What is interesting is that this young man has still not peaked in an arena where he continues to grow on screen, watching newcomers around him arrive and leave without finding their footing, proving that the industry would do wise to invest more in those who have a reservoir of untapped talent rather than try to find fresh faces. The Best Actor award went to Shah Rukh Khan for Chak De! India (also the recipient of the Best Film award), Best Actress to Kareena Kapoor for Jab We Met and Best Music to AR Rahman for Guru.

If Indian cinema has truly begun to recognize and reward its finest talents rather than succumb to continuing a trend, which simply saturates the whole notion of awards, this is only the beginning of a new renaissance of Bollywood fever.

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