Bollywood actress Katrina Kaif arrives for the IIFA Rocks of the 20th International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Awards at NSCI Dome in Mumbai on September 16, 2019. / AFP / Sujit Jaiswal Image Credit: AFP

Iifa Rocks 2019 — a night dedicated to honouring technical excellence in Bollywood films at the 20th edition of International Indian Film Academy Awards (Iifa) — lived up to its title on Monday night in Mumbai.

Amid electrifying music acts by Bollywood’s dazzling musicians including Amit Trivedi and Neha Kakkar at the Dome NSCI SVP Stadium, the celebrated Indian National Award-winning thriller ‘AndhaDhun’ scooped four major awards including the Best Screenplay, Best Editing and Best Background score.

“After ‘Andhadhun’ released, we have got such a lot of love, appreciation and wows… I don’t know how to deal with all of it. It has never happened to us,” said Sriram Raghavan, director of ‘AndhaDhun’.

“While I am excited about being nominated in all the major categories, I am more exciting about meeting my ‘AndhaDhun’ team tonight. They are now busy with other films and I haven’t met them in a long time,” added Raghavan, who’s currently working on a war film.

The maverick director, who has helmed thrillers including ‘Johnny Gaddar’ and ‘Ek Hasina Thi’, didn’t rule out the possibility of working with Khurrana for a future film project soon.

“But we have to find the right script first… It has to be as edgy and as exciting as ‘AndhaDhun’. I haven’t seen his ‘Dream Girl’, but I heard it’s very good,” said Raghavan.

He also gave a shout out to the ‘AndhaDhun’ review published by Gulf News tabloid!, usually the first in the world to review Hindi films and that he follows it closely.

Indian singers Neha Kakkar, center, and Jassie Gill, second right, perform during International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Rocks, a pre-awards event of the 20th IIFA awards in Mumbai, India, Monday, Sept. 16, 2019. The 20th IFFA awards ceremony will be held in Mumbai on Sept. 18. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool) Image Credit: AP

The open-ended ending of ‘AndhaDhun’, a tale of a blind pianist (or was he actually blind?) witnessing a murder, was also discussed.

“We wanted to keep the ending like that… Usually, whatever your instincts say was the ending, you are usually right,” said Ragahavan.

Radhika Apte, who also featured in AndhaDhun as Khurrana’s girlfriend, hosted Iifa Rocks along with Ali Fazal. Wearing a grey shimmery structured jacket and pants designed by Nikhil Thampi, Apte said she was excited and nervous playing host.

Fazal, who has recently signed a Hollywood project with Gal Gadot, expressed his excitement at working with Hollywood’s blazing talents.

“It’s such a great cast and I am very excited,” said Fazal. His witty exchange as a host with his girlfriend and actress Richa Chadha was one of the highlights of the evening that saw actors including Katrina Kaif and Vicky Kaushal attend.

Indian artists perform during International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Rocks, a pre-awards event of the 20th IIFA awards in Mumbai, India, Monday, Sept. 16, 2019. The 20th IFFA awards ceremony will be held in Mumbai on Sept. 18. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool) Image Credit: AP

The night wasn’t limited to celebrating Bollywood films. Musical acts by Amit Trivedi, Jonita Gandhi, Kutle Khan, Jassie Gill, B Praak and Salim-Suliman kept the tempo of the evening alive.

Actor Arjun Rampal, who recently became a dad again, injected a much-needed dose of glamour onto the stage. The hunky model and actor showed how it’s done as he showcased the structured ethnic creation of designer duo Shantunu & Nikhil. Aparshakti Khurrana and Rakul Preet Singh were also their show-stoppers for the evening.

Iifa Rocks, which happens before the main awards night on Wednesday night in Mumbai, is relatively tame and less star-studded. Almost like a dress rehearsal for the main night, Iifa Rocks was a night that celebrated categories that aren’t otherwise given much traction or attention in Hindi cinema.

Almost on cue, Ajay Kumar PB who won for Best Sound Mixing for AndhaDhun thanked Iifa for bringing back the category.

“I am so happy to receive this award. Last year, this category wasn’t there, but it is great to be appreciated,” said Kumar PB.

Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh’s period epic ‘Padmaavat’ also got some love that night as the controversial song ‘Ghoomar’ took home the Best Choreography award by Kruti Mahesh Midya and Jyothi Tommaar.

“Deepika, thank you for making ‘Ghoomar’ flawless,” said Midya in her acceptance speech. ‘Padmaavat’ also won Best Cinematography by Sudeep Chatterjee. Horror film Tumbbad was also celebrated for its special effects and sound design. Comedy’ Badhaai Ho!’ won for Best dialogue by Akshat Ghidial.

“Iifa Rocks is a night that has some great musical line-up, fashion and it’s about celebrating films too. I am happy that its 20th edition is its homecoming in Mumbai. I live so close by,” said Fazal, as he showed off his gold and black Christian Louboutins.


- Best Cinematography: Sudeep Chatterjee ISC (‘Padmaavat’)

- Best Screenplay: Sriram Raghavan, Arijit Biswas, Pooja Ladha Surti, Yogesh Chandekar, Hemanth Rao (‘AndhaDhun’)

- Best Dialogue: Akshat Ghildial (‘Badhaai Ho!)

- Best Editing: Pooja Ladha Surti (‘AndhaDhun’)

- Best Choreography: Kruti Mahesh Midya; Jyothi Tommaar (‘Padmaavat’ for ‘Ghoomar’)

- Best Sound Design: Kunal Sharma (‘Tumbbad’)

- Best Sound Mixing: Ajay Kumar P.B (‘Post House’) (‘AndhaDhun’)

- Best Background Score: Daniel B. George (‘AndhaDhun’)

- Best Special Effects: Filmgate AB (‘Tummbad’)


Vicky Kaushal proved to be a stellar sport as he participated in impromptu games and took on digs thrown at him by hosts Radhika Apte and Ali Fazal with grace. He was asked to say an iconic dialogue by Amitabh Bachchan, originally told in a bombastic manner, in a sensuous tone. He obliged and was brilliant.


Mumbai: Bollywood actress Radhika Apte poses for photographs at the green carpet of 20th IIFA Awards 2019 in Mumbai, Monday, Sept. 16, 2019. (PTI Photo)(PTI9_16_2019_000182B) Image Credit: PTI

Katrina Kaif refusing to play the game as it was impromptu and unrehearsed. Plus, Radhika Apte may be a powerhouse performer on the big screen, but at hosting she’s slightly rusty. Ali Fazal covered it well, though.