Kuala Lumpur Diaries: The IIFA Awards Extravaganza
My first international trip to Kuala Lumpur will always be special, especially since there was a national element – something that I am quite passionate about. Think movies, Bollywood, stars, premiere shows…. IIFA Awards! *drum roll*
Like every other Indian, I, too, am a starry-eyed movie goer. For years, my address in Mumbai was “Amitabh Bachchan ke bungalow ke peeche” (I stay behind Amitabh Bachchan’s bungalow). Once, my colleague who was visiting from Delhi heard me telling the same to the autorickshaw guy and had sneered, “Oh please, no need to show off to me just because you are from Mumbai and I am from Delhi.”
So, let me take the chance here and tell you that for five years I used to live in Juhu, bang opposite Hrithik Roshan’s apartment and the adjacent bungalows included those of Hema Malini’s, Yash Chopra’s and Dharmendra’s (besides AB’s three bungalows) and a little way off were the residences of Anupam Kher, Sanjay Khan, Jeetendra and other stars from the golden bygone era. Aishwarya Rai had got married to Abhishek Bachchan in our presence and we used to shop at Spar along with Shilpa Shetty and Neha Dhupia.
Imagine my happiness, then, when I got to meet my illustrious neighbours in faraway KL. (Did you notice ‘my neighbours’? As if we were chuddi-buddies!) They were there for the popular IIFA awards, officially known as the 16th International Indian Film Academy Awards. I already had a sneak peek at the stars in KL airport as they alighted from their Mumbai flight. I thought that was the closest I could get to them. But I was proved wrong and how! Read on and tell me if I ain’t the lucky one :)
The first date with the stars – IIFA Rocks!
The actors were put up at the JW Mariott at Bukit Bintang. The foremost thing we did on reaching the Mariott was to get our badges made so that we could attend the IIFA events. The first event was a press conference where commercial viabilities and other financial aspects of making movies in Malaysia were discussed. The panelists included veteran actor Anupam Kher and directors David Dhawan and Sajid Nadiadwala.
Next up was the star-studded event IIFA Rocks where all the actors who had reached KL were to be presented to the media on stage. Hosted by RJ Siddharth Kannan in his signature riotous style it was a fun event, albeit a late-starter, and soon the stage was filled with a bevy of Bollywood heart –throbs, right from Arjun Kapoor to Sonakshi Sinha. All of us went clickety-click on our phone cameras while the media persons tried to grab their share of bytes. The event ended on a very cute note with the actors being presented an orangutan each, the soft toy version, of course.
Hrithik Roshan and his moves
I shall remember the IIFA Awards mostly because of my ex-front-window-neighbor Hrithik. Five years living in front of his building and all we managed during that period were blink-n-miss glimpses, totaling up to perhaps some two minutes of eye-time. In contrast, Hrithik was everywhere in KL. There he was showing off his cool moves in front of the Pavilion Mall while giving away free tickets to the awards. The mad frenzy of the people had to be seen to be believed. I was almost crushed underneath his fans and somehow managed to catch sight of the dancing star through the crook of elbows and shoulders.
The situation was much better when we attended his book signing occasion. The book was about his dad and it was written by his sister Sunaina. It was very sweet of him to call her up and surprise her with the book launch news – she had no idea that Hrithik had brought her books to KL. “I love you a little bit more today,” she gushed over phone and we all clapped happily.
Special screening of Dil Dhadak Ne Do
I kind of lost my way while running to the movie venue at KLCC right after a hasty lunch. The lights dimmed just as I found my seat in the theatre. I loved DDD and was thrilled to bits to learn that the movie’s cast and crew would be attending a special screening, along with other film stars. By the power of our special badges, we got ourselves a vantage point and stood within touching distance of the actors. I acted quite nonchalant, though, as they strolled past, and sneaked in a few pictures when they were being interviewed at the Hero Cycles (one of the sponsors) stand. But try as much as I did, I could not get a clear shot of Priyanka Chopra who was hounded by media persons. Too bad, she didn’t stay for the awards and abruptly left KL. Good fodder for gossip, though.
The main extravaganza – the awards night!
The event was held at the Putra stadium and after a round of confusion we reached the venue. Who would alight from his car just as we entered but our hero Hrithik Roshan and for a moment we were part of his troupe on the green carpet. IIFA calls its red carpet as green, because, hello it’s eco-friendly! Anyways, we stationed ourselves with the media and were privy to all the interviews that they went through (who were wearing what, et al). All of them looked dapper, though I had my reservations regarding a few. Like, Kriti Shanon, who went on to win the best debutant (female) award. I thought she was rather over-dressed for the occasion!
Southern movies are a rage in Malaysia and not surprisingly, there were quite a few southern stars, including Shriya Saran, Madhavan and Kajal Aggarwal.
And then, there were some whose presence I did not understand. I mean, what substantial work were people like Vivek Oberoi, Aftab Shivdasani and Neha Dhupia doing that they received an invitation to IIFA? I can be quite mean, you see. Also, I could not stop sniggering at the same-to-same outfit worn by Aftab and his partner – as someone at the venue said cheekily, they looked quite like waiters! As to Neha Dhupia’s self-designed abstract dress, I thought it looked more like a silk sack than anything else.
Now, for the hotties! Most of the beauties were resplendent in red and actors like Bipasha Basu and Anushka Sharma really made a stylish splash. Jacqueline Fernandez turned out to be a favourite of the audience, maybe because her mom was a Malaysian. I am not too fond of her but I think she spoke Hindi reasonably well.
Anushka was quite a chatterbox and a friendly one at that! She ran up to share a joke with her PK director Rajkumar Hirani and I found that so genuine and sweet. Another guy I really loved was Farhan Akhtar who danced up and down the aisle with his DDD co-star Ranveer Singh.
Speaking of Ranveer Singh, I have kept the lovebirds till the last. His lady love Deepika came looking like a million dollars in a glittery red saree, while he himself was wearing a quirky red tuxedo. But they did not resemble Aftab and his partner, I assure you. Till the time I saw Ranveer and his antics in KL, I actually did not think much of him. And now I am a fan. I will tell you why – he was totally the heart of the party! He pranced and danced and pulled his friends’ legs and somehow it did not seem scripted.
Now, let’s make way for the main event.
The stage just took my breath away – it was that brilliant, that grand. The high-voltage act by the hosts Ranveer Singh and Arjun Kapoor (relatively subdued in Ranveer’s comparison) complimented the stage perfectly and the five approximate hours of performance seemed like a breeze. I particularly enjoyed the performances of Anushka and Sonakshi Sinha before being absolutely blown away by the electrifying finale led by Hrithik Roshan (who else?). IIFA awards in KL is definitely an once-in-a-lifetime experience, one that I will cherish forever. I had never imagined that my first international trip would be so much fun! Perhaps I should emulate the actors and give a thank you speech, too. So thank you God, thank you Deepa, thank you BlogAdda and thank you Tourism Malaysia!
Let me leave you with a few images of the event. Enjoy!
....and the curtain falls
PS: I had won an all-expenses paid trip to Kuala Lumpur by dint of a blogging contest held by Tourism Malaysia in association with BlogAdda. The events covered in this post took place over a period of 4 days.