Sunday, April 27, 2014

Hollywood invades Bollywood on IIFA's final day

The IIFA Awards closed out a hectic, exciting run.

Posted By on Sun, Apr 27, 2014 at 1:18 PM

click to enlarge U.S. GOLDEN BOY: John Travolta received a Lifetime Achievement Award from IIFA on Saturday. - NICK CARDELLO
  • U.S. GOLDEN BOY: John Travolta received a Lifetime Achievement Award from IIFA on Saturday.

The 2014 IIFA culminated this past Saturday in a huge star-studded event that left this journalist feeling pretty damned glamorous despite the overly long ceremony and occasional cheesiness.

The day started out with a master class with Kevin Spacey and a press conference with John Travolta, which happened at the same time. Travolta was open to the media. Spacey was not. This bothered me, as I love Kevin Spacey and loathe John Travolta (he’s gone insane, don’t try to deny it). So I devised a plan to dress as a student and, well, sneak into the Spacey space, which I accomplished by arriving two hours before the event and hiding my media badge in my blue jeans.

I broke the rules, and I’m glad I did, because as the room filled up I realized that Spacey was the true star of the day. Everyone, and I mean everyone, of note was there (IIFA Rocks host Vivek Oberoi and the majestic Shabani Azmi and Spacey’s House of Cards co-star Sakina Jaffrey were 3 feet away from me). It took all the nerve I had in my body to act like I belonged in that room.

When Kevin Spacey arrived with actress/singer Priyanka Chopra, I finally relaxed my sphincter. It became clear pretty quickly that this master class was not really centered on Indian films or Bollywood per se, but disappointment was only momentary, as Kevin Spacey turned out to one of the most charming (and vulgar) interviews I have been privy to witness.

click to enlarge BOB-BING FOR LAUGHS: Kevin Spacey mimics Robert De Niro during an IIFA panel at the Tampa Hilton Saturday. - NICK CARDELLO
  • BOB-BING FOR LAUGHS: Kevin Spacey mimics Robert De Niro during an IIFA panel at the Tampa Hilton Saturday.

Spacey told an amusing story about De Niro and showed of his knack for delivering a turn a phrase that can be both intensely introspective and deliciously wicked. “The primary role of acting is to serve the writing,” Spacey said. “I don’t give a shit about what people think of me personally.”

Spacey’s Machiavellian sense of humor allowed him to take digs at everything. Time magazine, Hollywood and even questions from the audience were subject to ribbing.

“Do you have any emotions you have difficulty achieving in acting?” asked renowned Indian actor Anil Kapoor. “I find anger to be difficult myself.”

“I don’t know about that,” Spacey replied. “You look pretty pissed off to me.”

The experience was astonishing and, in truth, I wondered if the awards that night would be anticlimactic. My arrival at the Raymond James Stadium did nothing but solidify that thought: It took 30 minutes to find a parking space and I had to walk a mile and half in a linen suit (which I ended up sweating right through) and leather Farragamos before I reached the pandemonium of the green carpet. 
click to enlarge DANCED WITH TRAVOLTA? Hrithik Roshan on the green carpet. - NICK CARDELLO
  • DANCED WITH TRAVOLTA? Hrithik Roshan on the green carpet.

I spent a good 20 minutes lost trying to find my way through to the media section of the green carpet and, thankfully, I stumbled across John Travolta and his posse and followed them. I will admit that this unwilling favor made me hate John a little bit less, and it was surreal to feel the after-effects of screaming fans and flashing cameras.
The Travolta experience lightened my mood a bit, and when I found my seat and the show finally started, I found myself enjoying the experience.

Although it was far from perfect (technical glitches and a tendency to announce the winners first and the nominees second were the most glaring that evening), the IIFA Awards delivered. Hosts Farhan Akhur and Shahid Kapoor were infectiously charming and the performances were stellar (the best being from Priyanka Chopra and India’s answer to Ricky Martin, Ranveer Singh).

The show ran well into the morning but never lost its kinetic energy. The award winners were, for the most part, gracious and short and both Kevin Spacey and John Travolta allowed themselves to have fun on the stage; Travolta graciously did his Saturday Night Fever dance with Hrithrik Roshan (the Indian performer whose obvious egotism rubbed me the wrong way) and Spacey stole the show by doing a Lungi dance with Farhad and Shihan and award winner Deepika Padukone.

In fact, it was Spacey who summed up the experience in response to Shihan, when he asked him how he felt about Indian and American films finally melding together.

“Well,” Spacey said. “It’s about fucking time.”

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