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|June 8, 2000|
Mixed bag at Zee Gold awards show
The second annual Zee Gold Bollywood Awards, held at Long Island's Nassau Colisseum, was billed as a star-studded event, with the filmi glitterati -- Aishwarya Rai, Tabu, Urmila Matondkar, Anil Kapoor, Akhshaye Khanna and Akshay Kumar -- performing on the stage.
The stage backdrop was lit up with the mugs of some of Bollywood's leading stars -- Shahrukh Khan, Madhuri Dixit, Amitabh Bachchan, Kajol and Hritik Roshan. And the celebrities present at the event included Lara Dutta, the new Miss Universe, director Mira Nair, actress Sarita Choudhury, Hotmail founder Sabeer Bhatia, and producer Boney Kapoor. The surprise guest was Sridevi (who pointed that she was not longer "Miss Sridevi" but "Mrs Sridevi").
But before the show could really begin, there was the larger-than-life presence of a Hollywood star that the organizers, the performers and the audience had to contend with. For Richard Gere, invited as a special guest, was sitting in the first few rows.
Like excited teenagers, the hosts of the show -- Sajid Khan and Neelam Sharma -- extolled Gere soon after the event started. Anil Kapoor, the first major performer of the evening, too could not help but mention that Gere was sitting in front of him. Kapoor who normally speaks in Hindi at similar events also felt the need to explain in English that Bollywood actors had to be John Travolta and Silvester Stallone, all at the same time.
Flanked by New York's Republican Congressman, Benjamin Gilman and businessman S P Hinduja, Gere appeared most gracious in accepting the Man of the Conscience award (last year the award went to the former king of pop music Michael Jackson).
"I am embarrassed to receive this award, because I am a small human being," Gere said. He said he wanted to share the award with the people of India who had been hosts to the Dalai Lama and other Tibetans in exile.
Gere also presented a short film in which several celebrities including Sting, Goldie Hawn and Harrison Ford spoke in support of an independent Tibet. And, in a specially taped video, Steven Seagal, the action star and another supporter of Tibet, announced, "Hollywood and Bollywood are first cousins."
Another matter that had to be cleared before the show started in full swing was the presentation of the Pride of India award to producer and director Ismail Merchant. This time the organizers got New York's senior Democratic senator and a former US ambassador to India Daniel Patrick Moynihan to present the award to Merchant.
(In an embarrassing moment, Sajid Khan mistakenly identified Moynihan as Rep Gilman. The peeved senator then asked Khan to stop speaking so that he could start with the award presentation.)
Moynihan appeared on stage with his daughter Maura who told Merchant in clear Hindi: "Bachpan se aap hamare chacha hain. Aap hamare suraj hain, aap hamare sitara hain. (From my childhood, you have been like an uncle too me. You are my sun and you are my star.)"
Once the two honorary awards were presented and Gere left the arena, the organizers must have sighed in relief.
The show lasted nearly five hours (it ended just before 2 am) was webcast live on Chaitime.com and taped for broadcast on Zee TV. The show could be broken up into three distinct parts.
The first was the presentation awards presentation, given on the basis of votes by desis in North America. The second was the glitz and the glamour event, perhaps one of the largest star-studded ones, showcasing some of Bollywood's top performers.
The third consisted of the gaps between performances, where the disorganized nature of the show came through, characterised particularly by desperate attempts at humor (especially after midnight) by emcees Khan, Sharma, Ruby Bhatia and Ismail Bashay. The show could have easily ended an hour earlier had it not been for these inexplicable long delays.
Last year's biggest Bollywood hit in North America, Subhash Ghai's Taal, won seven awards, including the ones for best film, actress and sensational actresses (the latter two going to Aishwariya Rai), music and lyrics. Ghai, along with Rai and A R Rahman were present to accept the awards.
Rai won a third award that night as the critics choice for best actress in Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. The film won six awards, including those for best director and male singer (Kamar Sanu).
Unlike the Oscars, the awards ceremony was mercifully short on speeches. In a gracious but brief one, Bhansali thanked Indians living in North America for making his first film, Khamoshi, a hit. That success of Khamoshi, he said, gave him the chance to direct Hum Dil De Chuke....
While accepting the best male singer award, Sanu mesmerized the audience, singing a few lines from the song Ankhon Ki Gustakhiyan. He also sang few lines from his latest hit song -- Chand Sitre from Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai...which he hoped would win him this year's best singer award.
The awards presentation too had its set of hiccups. Around the beginning of the show there was confusion over what were the editing and the choreography awards. Emcee Sajid Khan's sister Farah went up to the stage to accept the award for best choreography for Sirf Tum, only to discover that her statuette was broken. And in one of the most embarrassing moments of the evening, Ghai accepted the best film award for Taal, while the orchestra played the music from Hum Dil De Chuke....
All of this did not seem to concern the audience, which was there for the glitter and glamour and got plenty of it. Although Rai did not perform until 11 pm (her second was after 1.30 am) she looked stunning doing the dance numbers from Taal and Hum Dil De Chuke....
Urmila Matondkar first appeared on stage late, at 1 am, to dance to songs from Mast. Tabu was sensational dancing to Asha Bhosle's Rang De from Thakshak.
Akshaye Khanna surprised the audience by singing Nahin Samne Tu, originally essayed by Hariharan, from Taal. The other Akshay -- Kumar -- rocked the audience by dancing to several hits, including chart-toppers by Daler Mehndi.
Jassi performed his two hit Punjabi songs, Kudi Kudi and Dil Le Gayee Kudi, while Falguni Phatak sang Maine Payal Hai Chhankai.
The only disappointing performance was the first one of evening, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan's qawwali. The audience didn't appear to be ready for the nephew of the late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and arena, where the New York Islanders play ice hockey, was too large to provide the intimate setting qawwali demands.
The complete list of award winners:
Best Film: Taal
Best Film: Taal
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