Historical epic sweeps Bollywood Oscars

Deepika Padukone wins best actress prize for comedy Piku.
Deepika Padukone wins best actress prize for comedy Piku.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

MADRID • Indian historical epic Bajirao Mastani swept Bollywood's Oscars on Saturday (June 25), taking home awards for best director, best actor for Ranveer Singh and best supporting actress for Priyanka Chopra.

The movie, which stars Singh as an 18th-century Maratha warrior, picked up nine other technical awards at the International Indian Film Academy awards, including for choreography and cinematography.

"I am quite overwhelmed by all of this," the movie's director, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, said as he picked up his prize at the awards held in Spain for the first time.

"I don't want to thank anyone for this film. I think 'thank you' is just not enough for this film," he added, to applause from the 5,000-strong crowd gathered at Madrid's Ifema congress centre.

Bajirao Mastani has made about 3.5 billion rupees (S$69 million), according to industry estimates and has picked up a number of Indian film awards this year.

Singh said he learnt "how to be single-minded and uncompromising in the pursuit of excellence" by working with Bhansali on the film. "I hope we will continue to make magic together."

Best picture went to the drama Bajrangi Bhaijaan, starring Salman Khan as a man who embarks on a journey to reunite a mute six-year-old Pakistani girl stuck in India with her parents in Pakistan.

The movie was the biggest-grossing Bollywood film last year, earning about 6.26 billion rupees.

Deepika Padukone, who was nominated for best actress for Bajirao Mastani and the father- daughter comedy Piku, won for the latter.

Sridevi Kapoor, considered by many to be the first female superstar of Hindi cinema, was honoured with a lifetime achievement award.

The show takes place in a different city outside of India every year in the hope of luring new audiences to the genre.

Dubai, Bangkok, Singapore and Toronto have hosted the glitzy event, which was launched in 2000 at the Millennium Dome in London. It was held in Kuala Lumpur last year.

Opening the show this year, Bollywood superstar Hrithik Roshan and dozens of dancers performed the flamenco-themed song Senorita from Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, a 2011 road movie shot largely in Spain.

Spanish tourism promotion agency Turespana worked closely on the production of the film and it was one of the sponsors of the awards ceremony, which was expected to bring 15,000 extra visitors to Madrid.

The broadcast of the show attracted about 800 million viewers worldwide.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 27, 2016, with the headline 'Historical epic sweeps Bollywood Oscars'. Print Edition | Subscribe