All eyes were on the neon-green motorcycle suspended from a crane 30 feet above the ground. As it landed on the stage, Shah Rukh Khan got off and greeted the audience. The thunderous applause echoed across the venue, setting the mood for the 21st Annual Life OK Screen Awards here on Wednesday.
The Bollywood Badshah played host at the MMRDA Grounds in Bandra-Kurla Complex. A regular at the previous editions too, his ready humour and quick wit kept the audience enthralled.
While entertainment was at the core of the evening, the Screen Awards is a celebration of quality cinema. The year 2014 saw an unusual confluence, as smaller films made their mark alongside bigger, commercial ones. Powerful performances by women in female-centric films were among the year’s highlights. So, Rajat Kapoor’s Ankhon Dekhi with an ensemble cast competed against the big-ticket Aamir Khan-starrer PK for the Best Film trophy. And films such as Vishal Bhardwaj’s Haider and Imtiaz Ali’s Highway redefined mainstream.
The awards reflected these trends. The big winner was Queen, which told the story of Rani, essayed by Kangana Ranaut, who takes off for her honeymoon alone when her fiancé ditches her at the altar. The film bagged the Best Film award while its director, Vikas Bahl, took home the Best Director trophy.
Shahid Kapoor’s nuanced portrayal of the titular character in Bhardwaj’s Haider, an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, won him the jury’s award for Best Actor (Male). Priyanka Chopra’s honest performance as Indian Olympic-winning pugilist Mary Kom in her biopic made her the jury’s unanimous choice for the Best Actor (Female) trophy.
The popular choice awards in the Best Actor (Male) and Best Actor (Female) category were taken home by the lead stars of the year’s blockbuster Happy New Year, Shah Rukh Khan and Deepika Padukone respectively.
The relatively-unknown Manjunath received the prestigious Ramnath Goenka Award. A small but brave film, it brought to screen the story of Manjunath Shanmugam, the IAS officer and whistleblower who was killed when he took on the oil mafia in Uttar Pradesh. Anant Goenka, Wholetime Director and Head, New Media, Express Group, presented the award to the film’s director Sandeep A Verma and the cast. Goenka said the award is given to films that share the media group’s philosophy of speaking the truth. “I applaud the courage of the director to make such a film and the conviction of the producer,” he said.
The evening was dominated by the energy of the young brigade of Bollywood entertainers. The popularity of Sidharth Malhotra was evident when young women stood up and cheered for him as he came on stage. Although a first-timer as a host, the Ek Villain star had the audience laughing at his gags that took a dig at Bollywood.
On a floating stage, Shraddha Kapoor made a spectacular entry. Amidst streams of confetti, she swayed to popular numbers from her films Ek Villain and Aashiqui 2. There was also Malaika Arora-Khan who set the stage on fire with her brief performance as a teaser to the upcoming film Dolly ki Doli, which she is producing with her husband Arbaaz Khan. The cast of the film, Sonam Kapoor, Rajkummar Rao and Varun Sharma, introduced the film to the audience.
Tiger Shroff gave a power-packed performance, with his acrobatic prowess and dance skills on display. After a tribute to Michael Jackson, he somersaulted off the stage.
One of the evening’s highlights was the act by Varun Dhawan, who arrived on a tank. While getting off, the actor took a tumble and injured his foot, but quickly recovered and grooved to Ji Karda, a song from his next film Badlapur.
Showbiz, after all, is made of moments like these.