?‘Ella pugazum iraivanukke!’ — was A.R. Rahman’s reaction on his nominations for the Best Music and Background Score for Raanjhanaa. A reaction that took us back to the time he uttered those famous three words, which meant ‘I don’t deserve the praise, but God’, for the first time on bagging the Oscars for Slumdog Millionnaire. But if the Mozart of Madras attributed his success to the creator, there was another lot who saw their nominations as a vindication of the common man, now more popular than ever as Aam Aadmi. Call it a coincidence, if the country hailed the Aam Aadmi party’s win in the Capital as a game-changer, a similar sentiment was brewing amidst a gathering of film-makers, actors and technicians at J. W. Marriott in Mumbai. The occasion: An announcement of the nominations of 20th Annual Life OK Screen Awards. Thunderous claps followed every time Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-leela, Kai Po Che, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, Madras Cafe, The Lunchbox, Raanjhanaa, Ship Of Theseus notched a nomination, but the best reactions were reserved for film Shahid. The film turned out to be the proverbial underdog, bagging five nominations. The announcements ranged from gasps, surprise and finally, hailed as a victory for the aam aadmi as according to the film’s director, Hansal Mehta, “it was a film about aam aadmi. ” The ‘aam aadmi’ victory seem to be the underlying theme of the evening as even film-maker Abhishek Kapoor expressed surprise at his film Kai Po Che bagging 13 nominations. “The nominations have come as a pleasant surprise as my film had no stars; it was a film made with newcomers,” he explained. Though actress Divya Dutta was no newcomer, but her reaction on being nominated for the Best Supporting Actor (Female) two films — Bhaag Milkha Bhaag and Gippi — was akin to one. Jaideep Ahlawat, who bagged his first Screen nomination, Best Actor In a Negative Role (Male) for the film Commando, said, “I read the script a 100 times. And everytime, I’d find something to add to the character. ” Happy about bagging a nomination for the Best Actor for The Lunchbox, Irrfan, however, had a word of praise for newcomers like Rajkummar Rao. “Newcomers like Rajkummar are doing such commendable work. The film industry grows when we encourage new talents like him,” said the actor, who also celebrated his birthday that day. Stalwarts like actor Anupam Kher, who won a nomination for the Best Supporting Actor (Male) for Special 26, film-maker Rakyesh Omprakash Mehra, whose film Bhaag Milkha Bhaag earned 14 nominations (the second highest) or even Tanuja, who has returned to the big screen with the Marathi film Pitruroon and bagged the Best Actress nomination, each one expressed happiness at being nominated. Sanjay Leela Bhansali, who makes a return as one of the prized contenders with his film . . .Ram-leela, said he was quite happy. “Being nominated is as good as winning an award. I am happy,” he said. Ramleela has bagged 16 nominations, the highest number of nominations at the 20th Annual Life OK Screen Awards. Once the word of the nominations went outside the four walls, the reactions were no different. Many took to tweeting their victories on social networking sites, which went viral and caught on in a big way. But like we said earlier, there was no escaping the ‘aam aadmi’ chant. While lauding the film Shahid’s victory in the nominations, filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt tweeted: “A small triumph for the Aam Aadmi in the midst of hype, glamor and muscle. ”
Lights, camera and the stage at J.W. Marriott was buzzing with glamourati — celebrities and young talent turned up dressed in designer labels to bask in the limelight. It was a special evening after all, as India’s oldest entertainment weekly — Screen, kickstarted the preparations of its annual award ceremony — Kamla Pasand 20th Annual Life OK ScreenAwards, powered by Royale Aspira, with an official nomination list announcement event and party. One of the earliest stars to walk in was film-maker Abhishek Kapoor. Ship of Theseus actor and theatre personality Neeraj Kabi, too, was among the first ones to walk in, looking dapper in a suit, which was a far cry from his avatar as a Jain monk in the film. As soon as he walked in, Kabi, who’d been hospitalised recently, mentioned that it was his first evening out in six months and he was looking forward to having a good time. Commando baddie, actor Jaideep Ahlawat came next, and was followed by the team of Shahid — including Hansal Mehta, Rajkummar Rao and writer, Apurva M. Asrani. The moment Rao and Ahlawat spotted each other, they hugged one another like longlost friends. After all, their friendship dates back to the time when both had studied in the same batch at Film and Television Institute of India (FTII). The Lunchbox trio, Irrfan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Nimrat Kaur made a dynamic entry; Bhaag Milkha Bhaag on the other hand was represented by director Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra along with Divya Dutta at the do. All eyes were on Anupam Kher as soon as he entered the party, he greeted fellow nominees and walked towards the ballroom. Kher, who had earlier promised to stay back only for a few minutes, ended staying back for the rest of the evening, catching up with other nominees. One of the highlights of the party was to see Anupam Kher mingling with Irrfan and Nawazuddin Siddiqui, and indulging in some playful banter.
Host Karanvir Bohra began the event by warmly welcoming the nominees, jury and other important members. He then invited Priyanka Sinha Jha, Editor – Screen and Ajit Thakur, General Manager – Life OK on stage to talk about the new collaboration, where Thakur stated, “Partnering with a prestigious brand like Screen has been a big move for the channel and the 20th Annual Life OK Screen Awards is an important step for us. ” The Jury members for Hindi films were called upon next, which included distinguished members of the film industry like Sonali Kulkarni, Homi Adajania, John Matthew Matthan, Moushumi Chatterjee, Prosenjit Chatterjee, Umesh Shukla, Atul Agnihotri, Sriram Raghavan, Rahul Dholakia and chairperson, Govind Nihalani. Nihalani mentioned that coming to a consensus and getting the final list in place was not easy as the quality of films identified for over 30 categories, ranged from sublime to stunning. The selection was done through a fair and democratic process. Kiran Shantaram, who represented the Marathi film Jury, spoke of how Marathi films were not just creating an impact among cine-buffs, but also at the box-office. Feisty singer Hard Kaur added an edge to the party mood with a power-packed performance; she was joined on stage by the cast of the upcoming film Babloo Happy Hai. It was at around this time that the much-awaited list of nominations were announced, starting with the technical awards, followed by the lead and popular choice categories.
Conversations and more
With the announcement of the Best Film, the event drew to a close. It was now time to party and enjoy the rest of the evening with fellow nominees, food, lighthearted conversations and more. The interesting camaraderie shared amongst the guests gave the evening some of its memorable moments. It was heartening to see Gangs of Wasseypur co-stars Richa Chadda and Siddiqui catching up with each other. While they were overheard lauding each other’s work and pulling each other’s legs, it led to an ‘awww’ moment when the duo began pulling each other’s cheeks. Many more such moments cropped up. Amit Sadh could be seen, sharing jokes with his Kai Po Che costar Rao. The duo were inseparable and were seen clapping loudly for each other when their names came up for nominations. Shraddha Kapoor arrived a little late due to prior commitments, but the moment she walked in, the shutterbugs went crazy as they couldn’t get enough of the Aashiqui 2 star. “Pinch me someone,” she exclaimed and kept telling those around her that she was thrilled to earn a place in the Best actress category.
Memories for life
Javed Akhtar and Shabana Azmi too walked in post the event and their arrival also saw the shutterbugs going crazy. Azmi mentioned that she had dropped in only to greet everyone and thank the team for nominating her. But it was Irrfan, who clearly enjoyed double celebrations, as not only did he earn the Best actor nomination for his film, The Lunchbox; he also ushered in his birthday with friends from the industry. The actor thanked the Screen team for making his birthday a memorable one. Although actor Ranveer Singh was looking forward to attending the event, he couldn’t make it on time as he was caught up with some work. Singh even smsed to say that he didn’t like missing out on the party and asked if he could walk in post midnight, but in vain. But the party wrapped up just as the clock struck 12, with all the nominees returning home with a huge smile on their face, and crossing their fingers about winning the golden beauty on Awards night. The fun-filled evening turned to be a befitting ‘trailer’ to the glitzy 20th Annual Life OK Screen Awards.