It's been a great year for Bollywood. From hard-hitting biopics such as Mary Kom to successful book-to-film adaptations such as 2 States, audiences were treated month after month to some of the best movies the Hindi film industry has ever produced. On Saturday night, the cream of the crop will be celebrated at the 60th Filmfare Awards – the oldest, grandest dame of Hindi-cinema ceremonies – in what, as tradition dictates, will be a no-expense-spared event attended by all of Bollywood's glitterati.
This year, there are some clear winners in the nomination stakes, most notably Abhishek Varman's 2 States.
Alia Bhatt: cool kid on the block
Based on the best-selling romantic novel by Chetan Bhagat, 2 States stars Alia Bhatt and Arjun Kapoor and has been nominated for a whopping seven gongs – Best Film, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Music Director and two nominations for Best Male Playback Singer.
Oddly, Bhatt has been nominated for Best Actress for a different film: Highway, a thriller written and directed by the young filmmaker Imtiaz Ali. Highway also has nominations for Best Lyricist and Best Playback Singer – Male.
While Bhatt’s portrayal of a kidnapped woman in Highway is flawless, she is up against some tough competition: also in the running are 16-time nominee and six-time winner Madhuri Dixit, 14-time nominee and seven-time winner Rani Mukerji, and nine-time nominee and four-time winner Priyanka Chopra.
Did someone say Piggy Chops?
Priyanka Chopra has gone from strength to strength, and her role in the sports biopic Mary Kom, portraying India's star female boxer, received much critical acclaim. Chopra's fame has no bounds – she will soon be flying to Los Angeles to feature on a still-unnamed ABC television series next autumn and will be put up in a luxurious villa complete with a private temple, Indian newspapers have reported.
Haider – to be or not to be ...
After 2 States, the film with the most nominations is Vishal Bhardwaj's tense political drama Haider, an adaptation of Shakespeare's Hamlet, starring Shahid Kapoor, Tabu and Shraddha Kapoor. The film has six nominations, among them Best Film, Best Director and Best Actor. The last time Kapoor won a Filmfare Award was in 2004: he got Best Male Debut for Ishq Vishk, and has since been nominated twice for Best Actor (Jab We Met in 2008, and Kaminey in 2010), but has yet to win. Third time lucky, perhaps?
What ever happened to Shah Rukh Khan?
In a shocking development, Shah Rukh Khan is conspicuous by his absence among the nominations. Maybe someone on the committee finally realised the folly of nominating SRK for films that may be blockbusters but can be mind-numbingly stupid (such as Chennai Express, which was nominated for Best Film in 2013). The only film SRK starred in this year, Farah Khan's Happy New Year, which was shot extensively in Dubai, falls into this category, too.
In fact, Happy New Year has no nominations except for Best Supporting Actor – Abhishek Bachchan, who was the only decent thing about that film – and Best Female Playback Singer for Shreya Ghoshal.
Aamir Khan – a guaranteed no-show
Aamir Khan could make up for SRK's absence since he has a Best Actor nomination for PK. Unless, of course, he doesn't turn up, since Aamir believes all awards ceremonies are rigged and therefore makes it a point to not attend. In his 26-year career, Aamir has had 17 Filmfare nominations and won Best Actor seven times. But does he care? Not one tiny bit, as he recently told The National when he made a rare appearance in Dubai last month to promote PK (read the interview here).
Kangana Ranaut – will she be crowned Queen?
The shocker with multiple nominations this year is Vikas Bahl's comedy-drama Queen, starring Kangana Ranaut in what is one of the best roles of her career so far, and for which she deservedly gets a Best Actress nomination. In the film, Ranaut portrays a young woman who, after being ditched by her fiancé a day before the wedding, bravely goes off on her honeymoon by herself. Ranaut already has two Filmfare Awards under her belt – Best Female Debut for Gangster in 2006 and Best Supporting Actress for Fashion in 2008.
Queen is also nominated for Best Film, Best Director, Best Supporting Actress and Best Music Director.
Best Director should go to ...
The nominees for the Best Director make for an interesting bunch. Newbie Abhishek Varman, who must be over the moon with the many nominations his film 2 States has taken, is more of a music-video director. Anurag Kashyap, on the list for Ugly, is better known as a writer, and has won three Filmfare Award for Best Screenplay and Best Story (Udaan, 2011) and Best Dialogue (Gangs of Wasseypur, 2013). Vishal Bhardwaj, who has been nominated for Haider, is better known (and has frequently won awards) as a music director and composer. Then there's Rajkumar Hirani, whose PK generated a lot of controversy, started a Twitter war and broke the box office.
Arijit Singh – man of the moment
The only person to be nominated more than once in any category is Arijit Singh, who has two nominations for Best Male Playback Singer – one for Mast Magan from 2 States and the other for Suno Na Sangemarmar from Youngistaan. Singh, who recently played a sold-out concert in the UAE as part of the Dubai Shopping Festival, will cement his golden-boy status with the two nods – he is bound to win.
Pakistan in the mix
One of our favourite names this year is the crossover Pakistani heart-throb Fawad Afzal Khan, who has been nominated for Best Male Debut for his role in Khoobsurat opposite Sonam Kapoor. Another Pakistani performer, Humaima Malick, who also made her debut in Bollywood last year with Raja Natwarlal, did not make it to the list.