Singapore: The opening night of the 13th International Indian Film Academy Awards on Thursday (IIFA) lacked its trademark glamour and star-power. With Bollywood’s key clans — the Bachchans and the Khans missing, it was up to young actors such as Abhay Deol, Kalki Koechlin and Chitrangada Singh to kick off the three-day extravaganza.
“Indian cinema is not just limited to the Bachchans and the Khans. There’s a lot more to Bollywood and Indian cinema,” said Deol, the star of the opening film Shanghai. In a rather unprecedented move, this year’s IIFA chose to open with an unconventional non-Masala film.
“Shanghai doesn’t subcribe the usual formulaic film. It’s not your typical Bollywood film — it’s bold and non-conformist,” said Deol, who plays a government official in the political thriller. His belief was strenghtened when he heard deafeaning cheers in the background.
“There you go, their cheers tell you that there is an audience for such kinds of films and I love Singapore, its people. It’s such a beautiful city,” said Deol to reporters. He walked the green-carpet with his girlfriend Preeti Desai.
Acclaimed director Zoya Akhtar, whose blockbuster Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara has been nominated in 14 categories including IIFA Best Film, said that IIFA about celebrating Indian cinema and not stars per se.
“I am not missing anybody. It would have been great if the Bachchans or the Khans were here, but this weekend allows us all to take a break from Mumbai and just hang out. I am looking forward to having some fun in Singapore. The food and the people are fantastic,” said Akhtar.
Meanwhile, Shanghai’s leading lady Kalki Koechlin, clad in an Indian cream ensemble, said that her film would be popular with India’s common man.
“Shanghai’s not about some politicians who are sitting high up there.
It’s about Indians who worry not about the politicians but the politics of the petrol prices going up,” said Koechlin. But the actor who got deafeaning reception from the Bollywood-crazy on-lookers was South Indian matinee idol Kamal Haasan.
“I love Singapore deeply and I hope the people here love me at least by half of that,” said Haasan, who is slated to unveil his ambitious project Vishwaroop during the IIFA weekend.
Meanwhile, producer Ramesh Sippy, who will be honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Awards on Saturday, was equally thrilled about his awards glory.
“I feel small because it’s such a huge honour. Here I must add, I congratulate Rekha for winning the same honour. It’s well-deserved,” said Sippy.
An array of stars including Dia Mirza, Shriya Saran and comedian Omi Vaidya turned up to lend their support to the opening film.
“IIFA is going young this year. As much as we love the Bachchans and the Khans, I am sure the young guns of our industry won’t fall short on the entertainment front,” said Mirza.
Over the weekend, Singapore will see actors including Ranbir Kapoor, Shahid Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra working hard at making this year’s IIFA come alive.