Galaxy of Bollywood stars gather in Dubai for AIBA awards

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The inaugural Arab Indo Bollywood Awards drew a galaxy of stars to the Meydan Hotel’s racecourse arena, with the highlight of the evening being an electric performance by Salman Khan.

The AIBA event was an attempt to build a bridge between the Indian cinema and the Arab world. In the days leading up to the awards, press conferences and star interactions focused on promoting upcoming films including ABCD 2, Dil Dhadakne Do and Main Aur Charles.

Celebrities including Anil Kapoor, Ranveer Singh, Anushka Sharma, Jaaved Jaffrey, Mukesh Bhatt, Tigmanshu Dhulia, and many others. The show kicked off with a performance by Jacqueline Fernandez, and other acts by Kanika Kapoor with Meet Bros, Varun Dhawan and Parineeti Chopra followed at regular intervals.

Dhawan’s entry in an open-top Bugatti sports car was particularly stylish. Parineethi’s act revolved around introducing the nominations for the best film by dancing to one song from each of the nominees. She too made a unique entrance, lowered on to the stage while wearing massive butterfly wings.

The finale of the night featured two power-packed performances, first by Priyanka Chopra and then the final act, a much-anticipated performance by Salman.

The show was expertly hosted by the duo of filmmaker Karan Johar and TV personality Manish Paul, who announced upcoming film projects during the course of the show. Paul was especially sweet in his attempts, albeit unsuccessful, to draw women from the audience onto the stage to confess love for him.

Kanika Kapoor’s flowing blue-purple gown and Kriti Sanon’s floral-print long dress drew special attention on the event’s “golden carpet” before the show.

As the night drew to a close, Priyanka Chopra delivered a wonderful penultimate act. She dazzled, riding to the stage atop a hot air balloon in a sequined gown, and then dancing to songs from her movies Ram-Leela and Gunday, ending with a flourish to a song from her upcoming film Dil Dhadakne Do.

There was more promotion post-performance, when her fellow cast from the movie joined her on-stage to talk about Dil Dhadakne Do. What followed was an impromptu pass the parcel game with the cast (the parcel was a heart-shaped stuffed toy), that was judged by Johar and Paul. The losers were punished in a variety of ways: Anil Kapoor had to sing, Anushka Sharma was made to break-dance, Ranveer Singh shook a leg and Priyanka Chopra was told to deliver serious dialogue in a sensuous tone.

The night, however, clearly belonged to Salman, who does not appear to have lost many fans due to his sentencing earlier this month five years in prison for killing a homeless man in 2002 while driving under the influence of alcohol. He stopped the show when he first entered the arena dressed in a grey suit, the audience going wild at a glimpse of their heartthrob. Appearing laid-back and relaxed, as per usual, he cracked jokes with everyone from Johar to Sajid Nadiadwala, Kapoor to David Dhawan.

He brought everyone to their feet when, clad in all-black, made his way to the stage for his performance, the last of the night. Khan may not have won any awards at the AIBA, but there was no doubt about who the biggest winner on the night was.

The night wrapped up by celebrating top talent in Indian cinema from 2015 – Shahid Kapoor walked away with the best actor award for Haider. Best Actress was a tie between Kangana Ranaut for Queen and Priyanka Chopra for Mary Kom. PK won in Best Film while Queen's Vikas Bahl won Best Director.