The 13th edition of the annual International Indian Film Academy awards in Singapore this weekend will celebrate a year of some spectacularly entertaining films. Ladies lead the pack this time, with Zoya Akhtar topping the list with a whopping 14 nominations for Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (ZNMD). Hot on her heels is Ekta Kapoor with 13 nominations for The Dirty Picture, indisputably my favourite film from this year's list of nominees.
Brash, irreverent and raunchy, the film is a biopic of the south Indian actress Silk Smitha, and stars a voluptuously gorgeous Vidya Balan (nominated as best leading actress). It has raised so many eyebrows that it was deemed unsuitable for airing on national television in India, even after what Balaji Telefilms reported as eight-and-a-half minutes of cuts. Despite approval from India's Central Board of Film Certification, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting would not allow the film to be shown before 10pm.
ZNMD might not be as controversial, but that hasn't stopped it from making headlines and breaking box-office records. Not resting on her laurels, the director Zoya Akhtar is already making other news: a little birdie says she has struck gold where other directors have tried and failed. She has apparently signed up the cousins Kareena Kapoor and Ranbir Kapoor for her next movie. Until now, the stars have refused to appear on screen together as love interests due to their family connection. Akhtar solved the problem by asking them to play brother and sister. Smart cookie!
Back to ZNMD: Hrithik Roshan (nominated for best leading actor) made us swoon as he sang and danced on screen, and word is that he's doing it live on stage at the awards. Another performance to look forward to is Priyanka Chopra's tribute to the Bollywood diva Rekha, who is being honoured this year for her achievements in Indian cinema. Chopra will also be performing to songs from her forthcoming film Teri Meri Kahani, a love story directed by Kunal Kohli, along with her co-star Shahid Kapoor.
Kapoor was a surprising choice to host the awards this year. Granted, he's made it, but somebody like Hrithik Roshan or Salman Khan would perhaps have been the more obvious choice. Actually, scratch that. Maybe not Salman Khan, whose attendance at the event was iffy until a few days ago. He is currently in Bangkok shooting with Katrina Kaif for Ek Tha Tiger and will reportedly fly to neighbouring Singapore to attend.
Was it Shah Rukh Khan's confirmed non-attendance that made the decision for Sallu? With his arch-rival out of the picture (SRK is currently shooting in London for a Yash Chopra film), Sallu need not worry about a showdown!
Whether or not there is a bust up between the big Khans of Bollywood at this year's awards, we are guaranteed a good show. The south Indian sensation Prabhu Deva is choreographing this year's ceremony, and will even perform a number or two - definitely something to look forward to.