June 14, 2009

Here's to you, Mr. Gowariker (and Mr. Screwvala)

Just saw that Ashutosh Gowariker's epic drama Jodhaa Akbar won big at the IIFA Awards — ten of them, in fact. They include Best Picture, Best Director (bravo, Mr. Gowariker), Best Actor (Hrithik Roshan), and best music director (the one and only A.R. Rahman, who also got a "composer of the decade" trophy).

Not to be outdone, Madhur Bhandarkar's deliciously decadent supermodel drama Fashion got two tropies to crow about: best actress (Priyanka Chopra) and best supporting actress (Kangana Ranaut, whose portrayal of a model in death spiral was a big surprise to your Projectionist).

I'm also happy to see filmmaker Neeraj Pandey get a best story honor for his exceptional effort, A Wednesday!, which, like the others, I had to wait to see on disc.

All three films' wins are a very effective tribute to Ronnie Screwvala, the big producer at India's media powerhouse UTV. He not only saw to it that all three films (plus Mumbai Mere Jaan, Dev D, and countless more) got made, but that they also got made with the highest production values of any Bollywood company right now. As such, UTV is setting the standards for everybody else — not just on the technics but also on the content level as well. The result is a new wave of Indian commercial cinema that Westerners can enjoy without feeling embarrassed.

Jerry Bruckheimer, who favors slickness over substance, needs to watch Mr. Screwvala closely. He might actually learn something. Like how to make real movies, maybe?

BollywoodWorld.com has a rundown of the winners.

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