MADRID: Indian historical epic “Bajirao Mastani” swept the “Bollywood Oscars” early Sunday, taking home awards for best director, best supporting actress and best male actor for leading man Ranveer Singh.
The movie, which sees Singh play an 18th century Maratha warrior, picked up nine other technical awards at the International Indian Film Academy awards, including for choreography and best 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 International Film Academy awards being held this year 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 for the event.
“Bajirao Mastani” made around 3.5 billion rupees ($52 million) according to industry estimates, and it has already picked up a number of Indian film awards this year.
Singh in turn said he learned “how to be singleminded and uncompromising in the pursuit of excellence” by working with Bhansali on the film.
“I hope we will continue to make magic together,” the 30-year-old actor, who impressed audiences in his 2010 debut as a street-smart Delhi wedding planner in the romantic comedy “Band Baaja Baaraat”.
The best picture award went to “Bajrangi Bhaijaan” staring Salman Khan, whose character 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 of 2015, earning around 6.26 billion rupees.
Sridevi Kapoor, considered by many to be the first female superstar of Hindi cinema, was honoured with a lifetime achievement award.
The award show, which celebrates the Hindi language film industry known as Bollywood, takes place in a different city outside of India every year in the hope of luring new audiences to the genre.
Donkeys and footballers
The co-hosts of the show, Bollywood stars Farhan Akhtar and Shahid Kapoor, arrived on the stage for the start of ceremony — which got underway two hours behind schedule — riding donkeys.
They were followed by young men wearing football jerseys who did tricks with a ball with their heads and a mariachi band in white suits.
In the opening ceremony Bollywood superstar Hrithik Roshan, accompanied by dozens of dancers, performed the flamenco-themed song “Senorita” from his 2011 film “Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara”, a 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 is expected to bring 15,000 extra visitors to Madrid.
Spain is seeking to diversify its tourism base beyond the traditional northern European sunseekers that account for the bulk of its visitors and officials hope hosting the awards will draw more Indian visitors.
Madrid city hall was illuminated with the colours of the Indian flag over the weekend in honour of the awards.
“Dear friends it is so nice to have you here. I am really, really pleased and at the same time very proud of your choice,” Madrid mayor Manuela Carmena said at the start of the awards ceremony.
The broadcast of the awards attracts approximately 800 million viewers worldwide.
Launched in 2000 at the Millennium Dome in London, other cities to have hosted the glitzy event include Dubai, Bangkok, Singapore and Toronto. It was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia last year.