Kaala Bhairava Image Credit: Nagarjuna Rao

The second day of the South Indian International Movie Awards (Siima), which honoured excellence in Telugu and Kannada cinema for 2017, paid glowing tributes to Sridevi at Bollywood Parks in Dubai on Saturday.

Actors Khushboo, Radhika, Puneet Rajkumar and producer Allu Aravind praised the star as a versatile performer par excellence.

Khushboo was overcome with grief as she recounted her conversation with Boney Kapoor a few days before Sridevi and her family were to go to Dubai for a family wedding.

“It was a rude shock to be woken up with a very sad news [of Sridevi’s death],” Khushboo said. “I think the legacy that she left behind is there to keep her in our hearts with all the good memories. She was indeed Atiloka Sundari [a reference to her movie Jagadeka Veerudu Atiloka Sundari opposite Chiranjeevi]. When you think of one supremo of Indian women actors, I think Sridevi would definitely be at the top. Our hearts are with the family. I am sure she is up there looking at us with the same innocent smile. We love her. Everyone does.”

Playback singer P Susheela, who has served the South Indian film industry for over six decades and has been recognised by the Guinness Book of Records, was honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

The event also remembered the legendary Telugu actor and late chief minister of Andhra Pradesh NT Rama Rao. His son Nandamuri Balakrishna, who is donning the role of NTR in the eponymous biopic, said his father has served the film industry for over six decades and had established the identity of Telugu people on the world map.

Rana Daggubati said his grandfather and star film producer D Ramanaidu always owed his success to NTR with whom he had made the make or break Ramudu Bheemudu in a dual role. This was later remade in Hindi as Ram Aur Shyam with thespian Dilip Kumar.

Balakrishna, who received Critics Award from Radhika and Sharat for his title role in Gautamiputra Satakarni, which also starred Hema Malini, said the film was made in 96 days and shot in India, Morocco and Georgia. He thanked the music director Chirantan Bhatt and movie director Krish for turning out a masterpiece.

Baahubali 2: The Conclusion led the pack in bagging Siima Awards: best director (SS Rajamouli), best film (Shobu Yarlagadda), best cinematographer (Senthil Kumar), best singer (Kaala Bhairava for the song Dandaalayya) and best music director (M M Keeravani).

Bhairava said: “This award is just the beginning and I have a long way to go.” He said he was pleased to receive the award from Bhumika Chawla whose Simhadri he said he saw as a child. This comment evoked giggles leaving Chawla blushing.

Keeravani said the Siima Award was very special to him as he witnessed his son, Bhairava, receive an award for the same film and also since his daughter, who had always wanted to see him receive an award, was also present.

Daggubati won the best entertainer of the year award for his roles in Baahubali 2, The Ghazi Attack and Nene Raju Nene Mantri. Receiving the trophy, he said it was a great experience working on Ghazi, the underwater thriller.

Kajol Agarwal, who bagged best female actor award for Nene Raju Nene Mantri opposite Daggubati, failed to turn up for the event.

The demure Chawla won an award for her supporting role in MCA (Middle Class Abbayi) that had Nani in the lead role. South Indian star Shriya Saran presented the award to Chawla. In the male category, Adi Pinisetti received the award for Ninnu Kori, which incidentally also had Nani in the main role.

Sandeep Vanga, who directed the blockbuster Arjun Reddy starring Vijay Deverakonda and which is being made in Hindi with Shahid Kapoor, received the best debutant director award.

Madhu Priya received the best female playback singer award for her song Vachinde from Shekar Kammula’s hit film Fidaa. She said she was elated to receive the award in the presence of a musical giant like Keeravani and thanked her parents and husband for their encouragement.

Rahul Ramesh, who compered the show along with comedian Darshi and TV anchor Srimukhi, received best new comedian award for his role in Arjun Reddy.

The show that got off to a spectacular start kept the audience engaged until the end. Well-choreographed performances by Shanvi Srivastava, Praneeta, Pragya Jaiswal and Shriya Saran in lavishly mounted settings were a feast for the eyes.