After a two-year lull, a glittering Bollywood awards ceremony that would rival the dazzle of a Broadway show played out in Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Arena on June 4.
Spectacular dance performances, witty exchanges between stars, and fashion-forward moments were the mainstays of the big night.
The 22nd edition of the International Indian Film Academy Awards or IIFA was a five-hour-long ceremony, but there wasn’t a second that made you yawn. Just like any good Bollywood potboiler, the night was filled with action, drama, dance, and masala. Gulf News picks the top 10 moments from the high-octane awards nights.
Salman Khan tears up when talking about his “struggling days”
It’s not often that you see Bollywood’s original bad boy Salman Khan expose his vulnerable side. But the icon, who was hosting the IIFA Awards 2022, chose to reveal his soft side with thousands of his fans gathered at the Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Arena to witness the starry spectacle.
During a ribbing session with his other two hosts, Riteish Deshmukh and Maniesh Paul, he shared an anecdote about his days when he was an obscure nobody. Khan is the son of legendary Bollywood script writer Salim Khan but claimed he had limited resources as a twenty-something.
“When I didn’t have any money, actor Suniel Shetty had a shop called Mischief and I was eyeing a pair of stone wash jeans, boots, and a purse. I knew I couldn’t afford it because I didn’t have money … But Anna [as Shetty is fondly called] saw my eyes and decided to gift me what I yearned,” said Khan, struggling to hold back tears.
While many bought into his overt display of sentiment, there were a few cynics in the audience who wondered if it was done for the benefit of the camera.
At some points, he was struggling to appear composed but was back in the game soon after when he spoke about producer Boney Kapoor always helping him out.
“He has helped me throughout my life. When my career hit a rough patch, Boney Kapoor gave me a film called ‘Wanted’,” said Khan.
The actor turned philosophical during the night too. Speaking of Chunky Panday, he spoke about how stardom is a fickle game. “Chunky Panday saab nears my house and he had suddenly become a stylish superstar with his superb comic timing … But his popularity didn’t fully sustain because maybe it’s all written in the stars … Maybe he’s one of those parents who wished that all his popularity is bestowed to his daughter and Ananya is doing such a wonderful job,” said Khan, referencing the veteran actor’s daughter who sitting in the audience.
Vicky Kaushal’s fake wedding with cut-out of Katrina Kaif
Raise your hand if you weren’t invited for the Katrina Kaif and Vicky Kaushal wedding in Rajasthan. Well, don’t fret. At the IIFA spectacle, hosts Deshmukh and Paul decided to rectify that mistake by making Kaushal pay by staging a fake wedding procession. Kaushal was asked climb atop a gigantic bedecked golden wooden horse like how grooms usually do on their wedding day. The actor was an absolute sport as he climbed the horse and garlanded a cut out of Kaif. The skit was overly long, but it was heartwarming to see Kaushal in action.
Salman Khan’s entry on a motorbike
When it comes to dramatic entries, it was Khan who owned that space. He rode into the stage on a motorcycle with a gigantic golden IIFA statuette attached to its handle. The crowd went wild to see their beloved actor on a bike. And he did cut a dashing figure.
Shahid Kapoor’s bombastic Bappi Lahiri tribute
Take a bow, Shahid Kapoor. His tribute to Bappi Lahiri was a brilliant tribute to the original Disco King of Bollywood. Kapoor came down from the ceiling on a giant swing in a white Elvis Presley inspired stage costume. Easily one of the performances of the night, Kapoor was in his element as he danced to Lahiri’s iconic hits including ‘Tamma Tamma Loge’, ‘Yaar Bina Chain Kaha Re’ and ‘Raat Baaqi’.
Earlier on the green carpet, Kapoor told Gulf News that he was given the brief by IIFA to do a tribute segment.
“And I was more than happy to do it,” said Kapoor. Although he told us that he was nervous, his performance didn’t exhibit any of those signs. Kapoor’s turn was reserved for the last. And they truly saved the best of IIFAs for him.
Aishwarya Rai and Aaradhya cheering on Abhishek Bachchan
“This is for my princess,” declared Abhishek Bachchan as he rounded off his on-stage dance performance. For the first time in his life, his 10-year-old young daughter Aaradhya watched her dad in action and he won full marks with her.
“You are very, very, very, very, very … good,” said Aaradhya sizing up his performance. He had another big fan in his wife, who danced along with him in the most impromptu manner.
The former Miss World was his biggest and proudest cheerleader.
“You rocked baby,” said Rai Bachchan, when asked about her husband’s dancing skills on stage. To which, Abhishek Bachchan responded: “No wonder she’s the best in the world.” The crowds went wild to see the Bollywood A-list couple display such warm camaraderie and love.
Tiger Shroff’s shirtless wonder dance
Tiger Shroff, his nimble dancing skills, and his washboard abs were doing all the work as he hit the IIFA stage with a spectacular dance performance with his biggest dance tracks, including ‘Jai Jai Shiv Shankar’ from ‘War’. In a transparent white shirt, he left little to the imagination and played to the galleries with panache with a dance act that was heavy on nifty moves and was as flawless as it comes.
Nora Fatehi sets the stage on fire
When it comes to belly dancing and swaying her hips, nobody does it better than Nora Fatehi. She was on absolute fire as she danced to hits including ‘Kasoor Kasoor’ and ‘Naach Meri Raani’. She brought in an Abu Dhabi-based young fan who held her own magnificently by matching steps with the seasoned dancer. Seeing the two dancers of disparate ages was an absolute delight.
Pankaj Tripathi’s thunderous reception
If Salman Khan is in the house, he usually gets the loudest and most vociferous support from his fans. But during the IIFA 2022 in Abu Dhabi, we saw another star who got a more thunderous reception. We are talking about Pankaj Tripathi, one of Bollywood’s most amazing talents. He walked home with the Best Supporting Actor (Male) trophy for ‘Ludo’, but his true prize appeared to be his legions of fans who screamed and chanted his name. This man, who’s supremely talented, got a rockstar welcome.
“I had a speech ready, but you all snatched my thank-you speech by giving me such a warm welcome … You are my biggest support … Honestly, in ‘Ludo’ I didn’t know what I was doing, but I am glad it all worked out,” said Tripathi.
Irrfan Khan remembered
When Vicky Kaushal won his best actor gong for historical drama ‘Sardar Udham’, he dedicated his win to late acting legend Irrfan Khan, who was the original choice to play the titular role. The movie is based on Indian freedom fighter who assassinated Michael ODwyer in London to avenge the 1919 Jallianwala Bagh massacre in Amritsar.
“The original choice for this role was our late dear Irrfan sir saab … I dedicate this to him. This award is very special to me. It has been seven years since I have begun my journey in movies … I remember when I went for auditions and didn’t get those jobs. I was feeling dejected, but my mother reminded me to keep the faith. She told me that it’s my job to keep faith and the rest will follow,” said Kaushal.
He also thanked the real-life bravehearts for sacrificing their lives to gain independence for India. “Being born in a Punjabi family, I had heard about the freedom-fighter stories since childhood, but why didn’t the world know about it? … I have a long way to go, and I am still small speck of a star now,” said Kaushal.
Kriti Sanon wins her first Best Actress award in Abu Dhabi
It was endearing to see Kriti Sanon acknowledge her career’s first Best Actress Award gong for her film ‘Mimi’. Sanon played a young woman who opts for surrogacy to earn some quick money. But her best-laid plans go awry.
“I have practiced my winning speech so many times, but I can’t remember a word of it ... I was on the IIFA stage eight years ago, when I won the Best Debut and it’s great to be back. There are some films that change your life forever and ‘Mimi’ is that film for me.”
Sara Ali Khan and Ananya Panday set the stage on fire
To watch Chunky Panday cheer for his daughter Ananya as she danced on stage for the first time in her career at an awards ceremony was a heartwarming moment.
His eyes were glued to the stage as he saw Ananya perform. Apart from Ananya, Sara Ali Khan put up a good show as well.
Salman Khan’s salute to the real saviours of Bollywood
Salman Khan, who enjoys immense clout and love from his followers, utilised the IIFA platform to thank the fans for their unstinting support towards Bollywood that was ailing during the lockdown.
“The last two years when the world closed down we faced many difficulties. Many of us lost our loved ones and jobs were lost. But when the world slowly opened, cinemas were the last ones to open its door. But they were the first ones to get filled. You all saved the film industry and you saved those who work in the industry,” he said.