The Zee Cine Awards, an extravagant show

By Subhash K. Jha, IANS

imageMumbai, March 28 (IANS) The conspicuous absence of the Bachchans nothwithstanding, the eighth Zee Cine Awards held in extravaganza in London proved to be quite an impressive show of strength for Zee TV's newly appointed head-honcho Pradeep Guha.

Guha, who has spearheaded many of the glamorous events at the Times Of India (including the Filmfare awards), left that organization last year to join Zee some time ago.

His first major event in Zee has turned out to be an unqualified success. The spectacular four-hour-long awards function Sunday night, helmed by host Karan Johar, turned out to be a night of some surprises.

Though Shah Rukh Khan and Rani Mukherjee were foregone conclusions in the best actor and best actress categories for "Veer-Zaara" and "Hum Tum", respectively, many surprises were in store that evening, one being the complete absence of crooning marvel Alka Yagnik from the best female playback category.

At the other recently concluded Filmfare awards, Yagnik wasn't only nominated for three films, she also walked away with the trophy. At Zee it was Sunidhi Chauhan who walked away with the award for her title song in "Dhoom", thereby sending out a clear signal that as far as music goes, it's time for the younger brigade to take over.

This point was further driven in by the triumph of Kunal Gunjawala in the male-playback category over stalwarts Udit Narayan and Sonu Nigam. Gunjawala, who crooned his award-winning song -"Bheege hooth tere" from the film "Murder" - on stage even though he had the flu, prompted singing sensation Asha Bhosle to comment, "If with a flu this is what he can do, we can imagine what he can do otherwise".

But the senior established brigade ruled the roost. Yash Chopra and "Veer-Zaara" walked away with a majority of the awards, including for best actor, best supporting actress (Divya Dutta), best film and best director.

While collecting the director's trophy, veteran Yash Chopra announced his withdrawal from all directorial awards in future.

The decision was apparently prompted by the humiliation of watching his protégé Kunal Kohli walk away with the best director's trophy at the other popular awards this year for "Hum Tum" which Chopra produced.

Farah Khan and Anu Malik won the awards for debutant director and best music director respectively for their work in "Main Hoon Na". Many eyebrows were raised at the omission of the late Madan Mohan's name from the composer's category. The critics' awards were given to Pankaj Kapoor ("Maqbool"), Aishwarya Rai ("Raincoat") and Ashutosh Gowariker ("Swades").

The insistent inclusion of two offbeat films Vishal Bhardwaj's "Maqbool" and M.F Husain's "Meenaxi" in several categories didn't go unnoticed by audiences. Surprisingly Abhishek Bachchan, who had won the award for best negative performance for "Yuva" at the other awards, was given the best supporting actor's award for his spirited performance as a down-in-the-dumps lawyer in Revathy's "Phir Milenge".

Unlike the other awards functions this year, the Zee Cine Awards were refreshingly devoid of glitches. As Karan Johar happily declared to me the morning after, "Though it was exhausting to compere a four-hour show I enjoyed doing so. The awards sounded so right".

A special award was instituted this year in memory of Karan's father Yash Johar for the best producer. The award was given to Yash Johar's friend and colleague Yash Chopra.

It wouldn't be wrong to see the evening as a reminder of Hindi cinema's Yash-terdays.