By Cassandra Mascarenhas
Preparations for the 11th International Indian Film Academy Awards that are to be held in Colombo just next week are going full steam ahead despite all the issues it has faced so far. Protests and picketing by a large number of the Indian Tamil community in India, several celebrities refusing to attend the awards at all and torrential downpours in Sri Lanka posing severe problems for the organisers of the event amidst several other problems have not managed to slow down, let alone halt, the determined crew behind this huge event.
An inspection tour of the Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium last week, which was overseen by Minister of Tourism Achala Jagoda, showed the progress made so far with the complete refurbishment of the stadium – at which the climax of the IIFA weekend – the awards ceremony itself, will be held.
As one of the volunteers present there admitted rather frankly, “It’s not the Venetian in Macau that’s for sure but given the time shortage and other restrictions, they have done an impressive job with the stadium”. One had to agree with this when being taken around by Head of Logistics Amish Panawela.
Firstly, it was a relief not to have to wade through one and a half feet of dirty rainwater which had flooded the outside paths of the stadium for a couple of days during the heavy downpours that lashed the city. The outside of the stadium in fact looked quite impressive with clear paths and neatly manicured lawns and shrubbery. The only sight that marred this was a rather large pile of garbage at the back of the stadium next to the generators and other additional power supplies.
“The rain has caused some delays but we are still on schedule – everything will be ready by June 3 which is our deadline. We were able to overcome the problem of flooding, which led to a minor increase in costs, with the assistance of the CMC who will help us if the problem arises again which we really hope does not happen”, said Managing Director, Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Board, Dileep Mudadeniya.
Large decorative arches adorned the entrances through which the celebrities would arrive to be greeted by TV crews, photographers and 300 to 500 screaming fans – the lucky few who will be allowed to hobnob with the royalty of Bollywood. The traditional red carpet has also been done away with, opting instead for a green carpet signifying IIFA’s initiative to be green conscious.
The sound of hammers and drills could be heard long before entering the main arena and upon entering it, one’s attention was immediately drawn towards the centerpiece which dominated the stage, a complex three-tiered circular metal framework that towered over the builders who worked around it carefully. Colourful, intricate artwork adorned the walls all around – the hand painted jungle-themed props made by Indian craftsman.
For some inexplicable reason, there seemed to be several German men also present, walking around overseeing the whole proceedings. When questioned about this, an official from the Tourism Board explained that they were German engineers brought down specifically for the project, indicating that there are no Sri Lankan engineers qualified enough to undertake such work.
“There is no company here in Sri Lanka that can handle this type of work. We are using German engineers as they are well equipped and well experienced in this field and all the equipment needed for this project was brought from Germany by the engineers themselves”.
Funnily enough, the biggest issue during this whole tour seemed to be the seats. Not the seating arrangements or the shortage of seats but instead the lack of comfort the hard plastic seats provided. Following a rather baffling yet hilarious conversation about finding cushions for the seats and bringing in seat samples, I realised that remaining seated in those rather uncomfortable looking seats for the duration of the whole event which is said to go on for over four hours was really no laughing matter, seeing that people have paid extravagant sums of money to rest their posteriors on said seats.
Leaving aside such trivial issues however, the construction team has done an excellent job keeping to their schedule even with the obstacles they had to face. There seems to be quite a lot of work left to be done in the arena but the engineers were confident that this could all be completed by May 28.
Over 30 A-list celebrities will grace the occasion along with another 100 celebrities, directors and other big names from the Indian cinema industry. The limited seating arrangements in the stadium have resulted in a low seat allocation for the Sri Lankans themselves and the 500 seats that have been allocated to us is likely to go to the stars of our cinema industry leaving no chance for die-hard fans to get a glimpse of the star-studded ceremony. The many fringe events that the Tourism Board have planned will give everyone a chance to join in the festivities and really get a feel of Bollywood in Sri Lanka.
And The Nominees Are…
The awards consist of two main categories – the popular awards for artistic excellence and the technical awards. The process starts with the film directors applying and nominating entries for the awards. The nominees are then presented to members of the Indian Film Industry who then decide on the winners of the technical awards and shortlist entries for the popular awards. The winners of the popular awards are finally selected via a global internet voting process. The voting for this year’s popular awards has already commenced and will end on June 1.
Winners of the technical awards have already been announced with 3 Idiots, one of India’s most successful films released last year and a great hit amongst even our local community sweeping up eight of the coveted awards. The film, which stars Aamir Khan is also leading the race in the popular awards category with a whopping 14 nominations.
Given below are the nominations for the categories listed under the Popular Awards:
Rajkumar Hirani – 3 Idiots
Ayan Mukerji – Wake Up Sid
Imtiaz Ali – Love Aaj Kal
Anurag Kashyap – Dev D
Vishal Bharadwaj – Kaminey
R. Balki – PAA
BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE – MALE
Aamir Khan – 3 Idiots
Saif Ali Khan – Love Aaj Kal
Shahid Kapoor – Kaminey
Amitabh Bachchan – PAA
Salman Khan – Wanted
Ranbir Kapoor – Wake Up Sid
BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE – FEMALE
Kareena Kapoor – 3 Idiots
Deepika Padukone – Love Aaj Kal
Mahie Gil – Dev D
Priyanka Chopra – Kaminey
Vidya Balan – PAA
BEST ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE – MALE
Sharman Joshi – 3 Idiots
R. Madhavan – 3 Idiots
Abhishek Bachchan – PAA
Irrfan – New York
Abhimanyu Singh – Gulaal
Rishi Kapoor – Love Aaj Kal
Best Actor in a Supporting Role – Female
Kalki Koechlin – Dev D
Divya Dutta – Delhi 6
Kirron Kher – Kurbaan
Arundhati Naag – PAA
Supriya Pathak – Wake Up Sid
Best Actor in a Comic Role
Omi Vaidya – 3 Idiots
Johny Lever – De Dana Dan
Sanjay Dutt – All The Best
Ajay Devgn – All The Best
Govinda – Life Partner
Best Actor in a Negative Role
Boman Irani – 3 Idiots
Prakash Raj – Wanted
Arya Babbar – Jail
Amol Gupte – Kaminey
Kay Kay Menon – Gulaal
Shantanu Moitra – 3 Idiots
Pritam – Love Aaj Kal
Vishal Bharadwaj – Kaminey
A.R.Rahman – Delhi 6
Amit Trivedi – Dev D
Wake Up Sid
Love Aaj Kal
Swanand Kirkire – 3 Idiots
Irshad Kamil – Love Aaj Kal
Amitabh Bhattacharya – Dev D
Prasoon Joshi – Delhi 6
Gulzar – Kaminey
Best Playback Singer – Male
Shaan – Behti Hawa Sa Tha Who – 3 Idiots
Sonu Nigam – All Izz Well – 3 Idiots
Rahat Fateh Ali Khan – Aaj Din Chadiya -
Love Aaj Kal
Mohit Chauhan – Masakali – Delhi 6
Atif Aslam – Tu Jaane Na
Ajab Prem Ki Gajab Kahani
Sukhvinder Singh & Vishal Dadlani – Kaminey -
Dhan Te Nan
Best Playback Singer – Female
Shreya Ghoshal – Zoobi Doobi – 3 Idiots
Rekha Bharadwaj – Sasural Genda Phool – Delhi 6
Shilpa Rao – Mudhi Mudhi – PAA
Kavita Seth – Iktara – Wake Up Sid
Sunidhi Chauhan – Chor Bazaari – Love Aaj Kal
Tulsi Kumar – Haafiz Khuda – 8X10 Tasveer