Royal seal of approval

Royal seal of approval

David Light (david@khaleejtimes.com)

8 January 2012

King Khan sprinkles his unique brand of magic on the Ujala Asianet Film Awards 2012 in Dubai

ON AN  UNUSUALLY chilly evening in Dubai’s Festival City it would understandably take something special for thousands of people to make their way down to the outdoor arena and sit attentively for over six hours. Thankfully the Ujala Asianet Film Awards, held on Friday night, managed to capture the crowd’s imagination every step of the way. With the glamorous combination of stars from the Malayalam film industry collecting their trophies, song and dance performances from all the Indian industries’ top names including Shreya Ghoshal and Minissha Lamba and a host of comedy skits to round off proceedings – not to mention some very high profile guest appearances – the ceremony was a hit from start to finish.

With many showbiz gatherings expectations are never optimistic for the festivities to kick off on time but, as became apparent throughout the night, the south Indian filmmaking machine never does anything ‘by the book.’ In a very welcome turn of events, at the stroke of the scheduled 5.30pm start the godfather of Malayalm pictures himself, Mohanlal, strolled to the front of the audience to take his seat and the show was up and running.

Cheers for Lalettan could be heard well into the first award being announced, yet the crowd grew even more vocal as the evening progressed. Over the course of the next few hours stars arrived to take their place among the plethora of performers. Richa Panai, Unni Mukundan and Tamil actor Dhanush (famous for his song Kolaveri Di…, which the young man performed on stage to great applause) were some of the up and coming faces that highlighted the big screens when they collected their gongs.

More established artists such as Jaya Pradha, cinematographer Madhu Ambat and director Ranjith also raised spirits as they were rewarded for making outstanding contributions to movies over the last twelve months.

It was the addition of a bit of Bollywood masala, though, that arguably gave the affair a slightly higher tempo. ‘Welcomed home,’ in a way as a result of their Keralite roots, the gorgeous duo Asin and Vidya Balan introduced a new level of fervour. Subsequently, when Vidya took to the podium and addressed the crowd in the little Malayalam she could muster, the atmosphere certainly stepped up a notch. The Dirty Picture has taken Ms. Balan, who was accompanied by her visibly excited parents, into the upper echelons of celebrity status with the business it has generated and the awards it has and will bag. And at the Asianet awards it was just as warmly celebrated with playback singer Shreya Ghoshal performing a rendition of signature tune Ooh La La, dedicated to the 34-year old actress watching from the front row.

Perhaps the biggest roar of the entire gala was reserved for the man who can whip up a frenzy no matter where he goes. His participation was only confirmed in the morning, but word had got round fast. Entering the venue sat in an open-top Rolls Royce, fireworks and the theme song from his latest hit Don 2 booming all around, Shah Rukh Khan left some literally weeping in excitement as he moseyed along to the stage, trademark fine suit, slicked hair and million-watt smile gleaming in the floodlights. Pandemonium almost ensued when he stopped to shake hands with well-wishers, so much so that a platoon of bodyguards had to briskly escort the Om Shanti Om star the final few yards.

As he greeted the host and audience Shah Rukh stated that he was simply there as a guest and was open to help in any way he could by “shaking a leg” with his fellow actors. Little did he know that his offer would be seized upon so quickly.

It began with the stunning southern actress and model Rima Kallingal’s interpretation of Shah Rukh’s hit song from Ra.One, Chammak Challo. Rima and her fellow dancers had no sooner finished the routine than the award’s host called the Badshah to the stage to join in.Not only that, but the MC also called every actress present to follow Shah Rukh’s steps along with him. In a completely unrehearsed bit artistes including Vidya Balan (who Shah Rukh also persuaded to teach him the moves to Ooh La La as they stood on stage) Asin, Bhavna, Samvritha Sunil and Rimi Tomy among others were hot footing it around to Akon’s dulcet tones. The result was a magnificent piece of improvised theatre that reinforced King Khan’s reputation as one of the best entertainers India has to offer. The actor even found time to enter into a highly amusing duet with super-fan and singer Rimi Tomy who began an impromptu ballad in honour of her hero.

Before the final honours were handed over the “second half of the Malayalam film industry,” as the announcer put it, Mammootty made his entrance in a luxury Lexus off-road vehicle to conclude the glittering night in fine style.

 

 

 

 

 

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