Indian actress Deepika Padukone, who has been receiving violent threats for her role in the historical epic Padmavati in India, managed to forget that turmoil for a couple of hours as she revelled in Sharjah on Friday over her Global Icon Of The Year win at the annual Asiavision Movie Awards.
“Thank you for this award. I feel especially warm because this is one of the awards that honour South Indian talents. I can proudly say that I am a South Indian from Mangalore who studied in Bangalore [Bengaluru]. I feel especially good because there are so many good films that release in South film industry. I get to learn a lot from them,” said Padukone in her acceptance speech.
Padukone, who plays the controversial medieval Rajput queen in the Sanjay Leela Bhansali movie, studiously avoided speaking about her new film and kept her speech strictly vanilla.
She even tried her hand at greeting fans — more than 30,000 gathered at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium — in Malayalam. Perhaps it was to compensate for her late arrival into the awards ceremony that also saw stars including Sanjay Dutt, Aditi Rao Hydari, Manju Warrier and Mamta Mohandas in attendance. While the event kicked off at around 6pm, Padukone hit the red carpet closer to midnight, making it a tedious wait for her fans.
Despite Padukone cutting a statuesque figure, it was Malayalam heartthrob Dulquer Salmaan who turned on the charm. From singing his hit song Chundari Penne from his blockbuster Charlie on stage, to giving us an update on whether he will unite his superstar father Mammootty in the sequel of Big B (he won’t), Salmaan knew a thing or two about how to work a crowd.
Upon winning the Best Actor this year, he said: “My career choices have been different and unconventional, perhaps that’s the reason why I am standing here. You are the ones who encourage me to be here. [It is] your every selfie, text message and that clap [that] encourages me to work harder.
I have been in the industry for six years and I want to stay here for long.”
The Best Actress award went to the hugely popular Warrior, for her role in Udaharanam Sujatha, and Saira Banu, who dedicated her win to all those worked on her films.
“It’s newcomers who led these two projects and my win is symbolic of the collective hope we have for the Malayalam film industry. It’s my third time winning the Asiavision Movie Award and this is an incredible honour.”
Actresses Mohandas and Hydari used the platform to extol the virtues of Padukone. While Mohandas regaled the crowd with nostalgic tales about Padukone being her junior in college in Bengaluru, Hydari expressed her admiration for the celebrity.
“You are a rock star. You are hugely inspiring at the way you have conducted yourself,” said Hydari, who took home an award for her role in Kaatru Veliyidai.
Dutt, who was accompanied by his wife, Maanyata, took it upon himself to give ‘Jaadu ki jhappi’ (giant hugs that were made popular in his feel-good hit Munnabhai series) “It’s great to be here. I am a huge fan of Mammootty sir, Kamal Haasan sir, Rajinikanth sir who is the [most] humble person [I have] ever met. We need to learn to cultivate that kind of humility,” said Dutt.
While humility should be learnt from South Indians, the awards ceremony would have benefited from tighter editing and lesser technical glitches.
But going by the robust crowd that waited patiently for Padukone’s arrival on the red carpet, few minded as they indulged in star-spotting.