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Neha Kakkar on stage at IIFA Rocks. Image Credit: IIFA

“Bollywood is not just about actors, it’s also about those technicians who make us actors look good,” pointed out Bollywood actress Lara Dutta to Gulf News as she strode down the green carpet for IIFA Rocks held in Abu Dhabi on June 3.

IIFA Rocks is a glamorous prelude to the actual awards presentation ceremony — the 22nd edition of the International Indian Film Academy Awards — that will take place at the Etihad Arena on June 4. While the awards night will honour the best in Bollywood, IIFA Rocks was a night dedicated to musicians, fashion designers and more.

“Tonight, is about celebrating the entire fraternity … It’s not often that you have musicians and technicians being celebrated and honoured in Bollywood,” said Dutta to Gulf News.

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Farah Khan and Aparshakti Khurana were the hosts of the evening. Image Credit: IIFA

After a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, the travelling awards show IIFA 2022 got off to a glittering start in the UAE’s capital and IIFA Rocks gave us a tantalizing teaser to the grand finale tonight.

Actors including Salman Khan, Shahid Kapoor, Ananya Panday, Sara Ali Khan and Mamta Mohandas — dressed in their finest — showed up to support musicians and rappers like Yo Yo Honey Singh, Guru Randhawa, Dhvani Bhanushali, Neha Kakkar and Zahrah S.

Ananya Panday, who will be performing at the awards night, told Gulf News that it’s a dream come true for her to be a part of this prestigious event.

“I am looking forward to watching Salman Khan host. Hasn’t he been a part of all the IIFAs? It will be iconic to watch him in action. I am also looking forward to Sara [Ali Khan], Tiger [Shroff] and everyone performing,” said Panday, who was dressed in a dreamy icy-blue Marchesa gown. She also spilled a secret that she has been rehearsing for at least 40 days, but wants to play it cool.

“But trust me, being here feels like a dream,” said Panday.

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Yo Yo Honey Singh and Guru Randhawa. Image Credit: IIFA

IIFA Rocks, which began with a pulsating performance from singer Bhanushali, went off past midnight as singers and rappers took turns to win over hundreds of Bollywood fans gathered at the Etihad Arena.

Actor and consummate dancer Shahid Kapoor, who will be performing tonight at the awards nights, told Gulf News that he was nervous about his gig.

“It’s been six years since I danced on stage for an awards night. I am nervous, rusty with dance skills, but I am looking forward to the night,” said Kapoor.

Apart from a galaxy of stars hitting the eco-friendly green carpet, the highlight of IIFA Rocks was rappers like Yo Yo Honey Singh and Guru Randhawa’s collective performance. They belted out their hits one after the other and made sure that the audience was up on their feet dancing.

The night was also about honouring technical excellence. Vicky Kaushal’s ‘Sardar Udham’ won three awards followed by Sara Ali Khan’s ‘Atrangi Re’.

Actress Sara Ali Khan, who handed the award for Best Choreography to Vijay Ganguly for ‘Chaka Chak’, went all out and did the hook step, much to the delight of her fans.

“Sara has worked tremendously hard for this song and the dance became so popular because of her efforts too,” said Ganguly as he took home the trophy.

Hosts Aparshakti Khurana and Farah Khan kept the jokes flowing. They lived up to their promise of not mocking their peers and kept it vanilla.

The night ended on a fashionable note with designers Shane and Falguni Peacock presenting their collection filled with black and silver motifs and exaggerated shoulders.

Going by the star-turn out and the cheering from the movie-loving audience, it was evident that IIFA Rocks truly rocked.


Cinematography – Avik Mukhopadhayay for ‘Sardar Udham’

Editing – Chandrashekhar Prajapati for ‘Sardar Udham’

Special Effects (Visuals) – NY VFXwaala, Edit FX Studios, Main Road Post Russia, Super8/ BOJP for ‘Sardar Udham’

Choreography for Chaka Chak – Vijay Ganguly for ‘Atrangi Re’

Background Score – AR Rahman for ‘Atrangi Re’

Screenplay – Sandeep Shrivastava for ‘Shershah’

Dialogue – Anubhav Sinha, Mrunmayee Lagoo for ‘Thappad’

Sound Design – Lochan Kanvinde for ‘Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior’

Sound Mixing – Ajay Kumar PB, Manik Batra for ‘83’.