The Telegraph
Friday , January 18 , 2013
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Starry night

Shah Rukh Khan lets it rip with his Yash Raj heroines –– Karisma Kapoor to Katrina Kaif and Anushka Sharma

Anushka Sharma is tied to a harness hanging from the studio ceiling. Hair tied back in a ponytail, she forms a silent backdrop to the action on stage. The 2013 edition of the Zee Cine Awards is barely hours away and it’s rehearsal time at Yash Raj Studio before the audience pours in and the cameras start rolling.

A tribute is being paid to Yash Chopra in his own backyard and Shah Rukh Khan, his last action hero, is reciting a reworked version of the Jab Tak Hai Jaan shayeri. In between, Anushka is supposed to land and dance to Tujh mein rab. But SRK’s position on stage while Anushka descends is still being debated. So, up she is pulled, to be returned to terra firma on cue. When this happens thrice over, the gallant Khan protests. “Can’t you have someone else for the prompt? How many times will Anushka go up and down?” he hollers. The admonition works. The next time, an empty sack comes down in Anushka’s place!

Shah Rukh’s own entry is grand — on a wooden horse that sets sail on suspended cables.

Anushka Sharma descends on stage

A pencil-thin Karisma Kapoor in spectacles, black tights and jumper, had by then taken up position by SRK for their Le gayi number from Dil To Pagal Hai. Despite marriage and motherhood, she has not lost the spring in her step.

Meanwhile, Katrina Kaif monopolises a trainer from show choreographer Shiamak Davar’s troupe to practise her moves.

At the end, all the Yash Chopra heroines in the audience are to be felicitated. Shah Rukh suggests that his dance partners help them up.

Once King Khan and Co. retreat, Abhishek Bachchan and Riteish Deshmukh appear. This is AB Baby’s first outing as a show anchor and he is keen to get it right. He demands that the onlookers clear out. When stragglers remain, he tempts them with free coffee on offer outside. “Chicks in the wings, feel free to laugh uproariously, clap, come and hug us,” his voice booms on the mic.

First glimpse: Jeetendra is the first to arrive. Anurag Basu and Sujoy Ghosh walk in together, both in pyjama-panjabi. “It’s a coincidence,” Sujoy laughs. Asked to bet on the nominations, Anurag concedes that Ranbir Kapoor has it easier than Priyanka Chopra, his lead pair in Barfi. “Sridevi has a good chance. Who else is there?” he squints, as the Kahaani maker passes by. “Oh, Vidya! Very tough then,” he exclaims.

The show rolls: It is Calcutta’s evening with Barfi and Kahaani walking away with the most awards. Parambrata Chattopadhyay and Saswata Chatterjee both have nominations for supporting roles. Haradhan Bandopadhyay is remembered in acceptance speeches by Anurag and Ranbir.

Priyanka Chopra with the directors of eight success stories of 2012

Soon after, Anushka is named the Best Actress in a Supporting Role. Host Hussain Kuwajerwala asks: “How did you do without thermals in Leh?” referring to her bare-dare act in JTHJ. Anushka responds without batting an eyelid: “Wahan costume ka ek peti pahuncha nahin tha. So I thought I should be understanding about it and jumped into the water in a bikini instead.”

Nawazuddin Siddiqui, who wins Best Actor in a Supporting Role, is put in a tighter spot but wriggles out. Asked to deliver a Shah Rukh dialogue in his presence, he utters one word: “Palat”, in a throwback to a key Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge moment, and turns away!

Priyanka Chopra, who co-hosted the show last year after an all-night rehearsal with SRK under strict surveillance by wife Gauri, walks in late to accept the Best Actress award and quickly takes flight.

Cold Shoulder 2013: At ZCA 2012, it was Gauri to Priyanka. This year, it was Arjun Kapoor to stepmom Sridevi. “Dad, I won an award (for Ishaqzaade) after all those years of wait,” he says and dedicates the trophy to his late mother Mona. He comes down and hugs father Boney Kapoor seated in the front row and walks away without even glancing at Sridevi seated next to him.

If there’s one consolation for Sri that evening, it is SRK naming her Yash Chopra’s favourite actor. “I don’t know if he ever told you this but he did tell me,” he says, while escorting her on stage to join Karisma, Katrina, Anushka, Poonam Dhillon and Deepika Padukone.

Blurt & blush: With the Best Actress (Jury) trophy in hand, Vidya Balan recalls how Kahaani started as her search for a husband and how she found one in real life during the film’s making. She adds that she was playing a pregnant woman. “Perhaps there is a signal there as well,” she states, stunning everyone into embarrassed silence. Sensing the reaction, she squeals, “Just a joke!”

When Anurag carries Ranbir off stage on his shoulders after the next award, Abhishek wryly comments: “We know who else is getting lucky tonight!”

Then Team Kahaani returns on stage for the Best Film (Jury) award. SRK asks for a repeat of Big B’s Ekla chalo re rendition and teaches Vidya what he calls “a Bengali step”. It turns out to be the one Jeet had taught him at the Kolkata Knight Riders victory celebration at Eden Gardens!

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