Sheffield, England: Rang De Basanti was named best film on 10 June 2007 at the International Indian Film Academy Awards (IIFAs), a star-studded, spectacular celebration of song, dance and stagecraft.
The movie scooped a total of 10 awards from 15 nominations at IIFA, designed to honour Bollywood talent and promote its films abroad.
Directed by Rakeysh Omprakesh Mehra, Rang De Basanti is a story about a filmmaker who wants to shoot a movie on Indian nationalists who rose up against British colonial rule.
The director, played by Alice Patten — daughter of Chris Patten, Britain’s last governor in Hong Kong — tries to cast five friends but finds they are more interested in dancing than history.
Rang De Basanti — which means “Paint It Yellow” in English — beat off challenges from movies including Dhoom 2, a thriller starring Bollywood golden couple Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai, and sci-fi hit Krrish.
Showing no hard feelings, Bachchan and Rai presented the award at the climax of a marathon five-hour ceremony which finished well past midnight and was watched by a capacity 12,500 arena crowd as well as some 500 million people in 110 countries on television.
Earlier, Hrithik Roshan won best actor in a leading role for Krrish, while Rani Mukherjee was best actress for her part in Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna.
The award for best director went to Rajkumar Hirani for Lage Raho Munnabhai, a comedy about the enduring influence of Mahatma Gandhi and his philosophy of non-violence.
But the event was not only about awards — a series of high-octane stage performances by stars like Shilpa Shetty, Akshay Kumar and Saif Ali Khan had the mainly British South Asian crowd swaying in their seats and, later, dancing in the aisles.
Abhishek Bachchan and his father Amitabh, voted the biggest star of the millennium in a 1999 BBC poll, danced together on stage to deafening cheers and screams from the crowd.
Cheers were only slightly less loud for heartthrob Salman Khan, who snaked through the audience on a golden pantomime horse, pursued by a brass band and dancers, before leaping on stage for a song-and-dance routine in front of huge Easter Island-inspired masks.
Other highlights included an award for outstanding contribution to Indian cinema for legendary actor and politician Dharmendra, who was joined on stage by his two weeping sons, Sunny and Bobby Deol.
Amitabh Bachchan told the audience in a very personal address that Dharmendra, his neighbour in Mumbai, was “the most wonderful friend and the most wonderful human you can come across.”
Dharmendra and his sons were at the festival promoting their new film Apne — the first time the clan have appeared on screen together.
In addition, Shetty was awarded a special prize by the county of Yorkshire marking her victory earlier this year on British reality television show Celebrity Big Brother in the face of alleged racist bullying.
Handing over the award, former Yorkshire and England cricket captain Geoffrey Boycott told the audience, to loud cheers: “Under great provocation, she acted with dignity and class and like a true lady.”
The event was presented by funnyman Boman Irani and former Miss Universe Lara Dutta.
Amitabh Bachchan said at the start of the ceremony, which brought down the curtain on four days of IIFA celebrations across Yorkshire, that this had been a “golden year.”
“The films released in the last year break the shackles of genre and formula. Each one has been different from another,” he said.
Following him, British Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell joked: “It’s rather humbling for a mere politician to be sharing a platform with possibly the most popular person in the world.”
An estimated 30,000 visitors from abroad poured into Sheffield, Leeds, Bradford, York and Hull for the events that are bringing a touch of glamour to gritty Yorkshire.
But a serious twist was thrown in as the stars walked the green carpet that replaced the traditional red carpet to raise awareness of environmental issues and climate change.
The industrial heartland of Yorkshire, built on industries like mining and steel, may seem like an unlikely setting for such a flamboyant event, but the area has the third-largest population of ethnic South Asians in Britain.
The IIFAs, first held in 2000 in London, are always held in different locations around the world, such as Johannesburg and Amsterdam, to increase the international profile of Bollywood film.