'Basanti' rules Bollywood nods


The cream of the Indian film industry gathered in the northern city of Sheffield during the weekend to watch "Rang de Basanti" sweep the boards at the International Indian Film Academy Awards, Bollywood's answer to the Oscars.

Attracting such stars as Aishwarya Rai and Amitabh Bachchan and with a global television audience expected to top 500 million viewers in 110 countries, the awards Saturday underlined the increasing power and mainstream significance of the Bollywood genre.

"Basanti" is a politically charged epic about a group of disillusioned Indian youths who become nationalist freedom fighters united against British rule in the 1920s, and of a British filmmaker who tries to tell their story. The film picked up five nods on the night, including best picture, supporting actress for British star Alice Patten and musical direction.

Rani Mukherji was named best actress for "Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna," a film about the impact of infidelity, while Hrithik Roshan picked up the best actor award for his portrayal of a superhero in "Krrish." The musical comedy "Lage Raho Munnabhai" earned Rajkumar Hirani the best director award, and director Vishal Bhardwaj was given a special honor for best adaptation for "Omkara," his take on Shakespeare's "Othello."

The awards, voted on by fans, were handed out in front of an audience of 12,000 in Sheffield's Hallam auditorium. Backed by the International Indian Film Academy, the event changes venue each year; last year, they were held in Dubai.

The event was the culmination of a four-day celebration of Indian film intended to develop business and production links between Bollywood and the North of England.