Thursday, June 30, 2011


I’ve just returned to Lagos, the crazy city I call home, from an AMAZING 5-city working vacation that featured lots of quality time with special friends and family, time spent learning new skills, some sightseeing, and a few days experiencing the sheer, glorious madness of IIFA 2011 in Toronto. IIFA crowned a whirlwind of crazy, frenetic activity for me, and it was SO memorable.

Although I left Toronto right before the big awards night on Saturday, I was able to attend the IIFA Rocks event on Friday night, which simply rocked!! I was also able to meet some of my fellow SRK fans from Twitter (which was very special), and to spend some time watching stars go by at the Fairmont Royal York hotel, where all the Bollywood stars stayed during the IIFA festivities. I saw so many of them, and I have to say they all looked pretty great! Boman Irani looked so tall and handsome! Ranveer Singh was so warm and friendly with the fans. Mahie Gill is tiny… and she was shy, or nervous, or something. Sonu Sood is an absolute HUNK (fanning self). And so on….

Please don’t ask me what these acrobats were about, because I don’t remember. Pretty cool though.

I’m sure some of the other Bollybloggers that attended the IIFA events in Toronto will have lots to share on their blogs, mostly about the awards night and the red carpet party with Shah Rukh Khan and Vivek Oberoi on Friday night (which I hear was amazing), but I figure there won’t be too many blog posts about the IIFA Rocks event (since most people were at the aforementioned SRK/VO party that night)… so here I am, sharing my impressions and pictures of IIFA Rocks….

(Warning: I will probably use the word ‘amazing’ about a gazillion times in this post. Bear with me please; sometimes it’s the only word that fits!)

The massive crowd at Ricoh Coliseum

IIFA Rocks had something for everyone – great fashion, stars aplenty, music, dance, and even awards – the IIFA technical awards (sound, editing, costume design, special effects etc) were handed out (the big winners were ‘Robot’, ‘Band Baaja Baaraat’ and ‘Dabangg’). The technical awards were handed out mostly by actors – Anil Kapoor, Anupam Kher, Shah Rukh Khan, Bipasha Basu, Malaika Arora Khan, Arbaaz Khan, Sonu Sood... and many more. And there were many other Bollywood celebs that just came to watch the festivities.

Malaika ‘Munni’ Arora Khan and hubby Arbaaz prepare to present an award as the hosts of the night look on

It was a pretty funny (and telling) moment when Shah Rukh Khan was making his way backstage to prep for presenting an award, and at the same time, it was announced that Niharika Khan had won the award for Best Costume Design for ‘Band Baaja Baaraat’... as Niharika was making her way to the stage to receive her award, she got pretty close to King Khan (who of course was pretty close to the front as well), and of course his hulking bodyguards, thinking she wanted to talk to or touch SRK, asked her to step aside. The poor lady tried to explain that she had just won an IIFA award, but they just moved on. A nice little dinner party anecdote for her!

Can you spot SRK, Rakesh Roshan, Hema Malini, Esha Deol, Riteish Deshmukh, Genelia D’Souza in this picture?

There was a huge crowd at Toronto’s Ricoh Coliseum, and everyone was super-excited, dressed sooo stylishly, and raring to go!! Some stars were already seated, and every time a star’s face showed up on the big screen, a roar would go up from the audience. Some celebs, usually (I noticed) those who aren’t exactly on the A-list right now (e.g. Ameesha Patel, Zayed Khan) got VERY excited when the crowds cheered for them, while others (e.g. SRK – who of course got the loudest cheers, Riteish Deshmukh, Anil Kapoor) accepted their cheers and acknowledged the crowds more graciously. Fun!

Anil Kapoor, he who never gets older

I was impressed by how well-organised the event was. It did start late, but not ridiculously so, and once it got started, it went like clockwork. Great planning by Wizcraft and great execution by their team and all the sponsors, participants and volunteers. Although I was in the cheap seats, I had a pretty great view of both the stage and the stars in their front row seats. I looked at the big screen from time to time, but not a whole lot, as I could actually see pretty much everything clearly from where I was sitting, which was great. I loved my seat, and even though I kinda wished I could have shared the experience with a friend or two, I had an amazing time dancing hard to the Bollywood beats and cheering for all the stars.

Karan Johar and Anushka Sharma were introduced as the night’s hosts, and I think they both did an outstanding job. We all know Karan Johar is an excellent host with his ready wit and good sense of humour – I think he could probably present a show like this in his sleep, but Anushka’s eloquence and poise was a revelation. Just as with her first onscreen performance in ‘Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi’, there was no indication that she was doing this for the first time. Her confidence was supreme, she read off the prompter without looking like she was reading off a prompter, she adlibbed nicely here and there, and she generally did a great job of effortlessly complementing Karan… and she looked absolutely gorgeous doing it!!

Anushka and her winning smile

Saif Ali Khan was originally pegged to host, and I personally am glad he couldn’t make it and got replaced by Karan and Anushka. They made a great pair. I liked when Anushka teased Karan over the fact that ‘Band Baaja Baaraat’ won more technical awards than ‘My Name Is Khan’, and when Karan joked that we were making him and Anushka feel irrelevant by ignoring them in order to scream whenever a star’s face was displayed on the big screens.

I love the funny faces here!

Composers and musicians Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, who had a great band and were amazing performers throughout the show, kicked things off nicely with a stonking performance of ‘Laung da Lishkara’ from ‘Patiala House’. Up next was Jermaine Jackson with a spirited tribute to his late brother Michael. I loved every minute of this, from ‘Can You Feel It’ to ‘Scream’ to ‘Wanna Be Startin’ Something’. I could not stop dancing and singing along – I LOVE those songs!! Then Sonu Niigaam joined Jermaine onstage and they sang a moving duet, an original song written by Sonu. I thought it was beautiful and very nicely done….

The first fashion collection of the night belonged to the talented Rajesh Pratap Singh, who showcased a beautiful collection of clean-cut, extremely wearable clothes… lots of black (which I love), beautiful tailoring, strong lines, some glitz, and distinctive prints (vibrant but ‘grown folk’ stuff). I loved his use of earth colours and a rose motif which should have looked a bit played-out but actually looked fresh and young. I also loved his dark, long velvet jackets and coats on both men and women. Stunning collection! His models walked to ‘Main Doon Hon’, ‘Rock On’ and ‘Aaj Ki Raat’ (one of my faves!) performed by S-E-L, and I loved it.

I also loved the diversity of his models – it was great to see models of different races wearing his designs – and thankfully, this was a theme throughout the night. His showstoppers were some cricketer guy (Brett something or other, I think), Rahul Khanna and Zayed Khan. Rahul seemed kinda bashful up there on the ramp, which was so adorable and cute (aawww!!!), and Zayed was flamboyant and all over the place, which was also cute in a very different way. They looked great!

At this point Bipasha Basu walked pretty close to my part of the arena, looking fierce in a TINY (and I do mean TINY) sequined black dress – and it struck me that, like her dress, Ms Basu is pretty tiny – I mean, you see her in pictures and onscreen, and she looks a lot more... substantial... than she actually is... she is pretty compact really, but her body is absolute perfection – all those hours in the gym have definitely paid off! Another tiny woman, Dia Mirza, performed next – her dancing was not great, but she had loads of charm, energy and such a fun attitude onstage... I really enjoyed her performance.

Tiny Bipasha in her tiny black dress

The next fashion segment belonged to American retailer The Bay, one of the sponsors of the IIFA Rocks event. The clothes were predictably lovely and classic, and the models walked to S-E-L’s ‘Uff Teri Adda’ and ‘Paint It Red’. The only real surprise of the collection was the addition of a few luxe pieces that looked really glam... the final one being a glittery column worn to perfection by Neha Dhupia, who was the perfect showstopper.

Up next was one of my favourite parts of the night – an energetic romp of a performance by RDB and Mindy Kaur (along with some fab backup dancers). I just LOVED Mindy’s fierce attitude, energy and cool confidence... she really brought the heat. They performed remixes of ‘Kambakkht Ishq’, ‘Yamla Pagla Deewana’ and some other song I don’t know. It was so much fun... I just could not stop dancing!

The fabulous Mindy Kaur and RDB

There was a very moving performance by Salim-Sulaiman of their original songs from the upcoming movie ‘Azaan’, which will star some newbie Sachin something-or-other. The movie did not look particularly great from the trailer, but I loved the performance of the songs – really lovely. And wow... Salim Merchant has SUCH a beautiful voice – I didn’t really realise that until I heard him sing live.

Up next was a collection of jewelry by Vikram Phadnis for Gitanjali... it was very ornate stuff, beautiful, but I felt I had seen it all before... then Sonakshi livened things up for me as the gorgeous and poised showstopper. I love her regal carriage... all the other models just seemed to pale in comparison. She was utterly fantastic. When Karan and Anushka came back, Karan commented on how beautiful Sonakshi was, and I am pretty sure I hearda tiny trace of envy in Anushka’s voice as she agreed with him!

Sonakshi's regal posture is evident even from this angle

Up next was Sonu Niigaam, who had amazing energy onstage along with that gorgeous voice – he really is a great live performer and I enjoyed every moment of it... I didn’t know most of the songs he did, but I loved it all... and when he did ‘Tumse Milke’ from ‘Main Hoon Na’, I was in ecstasy!

Mallika Sherawat was next with a smokin’ hot performance... she was sultry, flirty and fun, and I enjoyed it....

Mallika doing her thang

.. and then it was time for the final fashion show of the night... by the genius that is Sabyasachi. I love his designs, so I was so excited! This was a beautiful collection... he brought the drama with a collection that was strong, striking, even fierce at times... but still wearable. The clothes were bold but still graceful and feminine... beautiful.

I love the way Sabyasachi mixes bold colour blocking and stripes with delicate, elegant florals and some really intricate, rich detailing... and somehow he manages to pull it all together and make it look coordinated and so unique. As S-E-L and their band performed ‘Kajra Re’, the final showstopper of the night, a dazzling Bipasha, who has lost NONE of her modelling mojo (the other models simply seemed to fade away), sashayed out onto the stage to crown the collection and the event. There was a funny moment when Sabyasachi came out and Bips tried to dance with him but he adamantly (and obviously unhappily) refused. Poor Bips – it was a little awkward, as she returned to dancing by herself!

Bips shows 'em how it’s done

S-E-L and their band ended the night perfectly with a rousing performance of ‘Jhoom Barabar Jhoom’... all the night’s performers jumped onstage and ‘jhoomed’ away... so much fun... and then it was all over....

I had such a fabulous time! What a night!!!