Spectacular: Film and TV awards launch an event to remember

2013-03-25 00:00

SPECTACULAR song-and-dance numbers and fireworks and breathtaking fashion made the launch of the South Africa Indian Film and Television Awards (Saifta) an event to remember.

The awards, which are the brainchild of Mumbai-based Celebrity Locker Entertainment and have the backing of the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development and Tourism, aim to provide a cross-cultural exchange in performing arts, skills enhancement, technical expertise and film locations.

Before the black tie event — hosted by Durban actress and Eastern Mosaic presenter Jailoshini Naidoo and Top Billing presenter Simba Mhere — got under way, fans lined the red carpet at the International Conference Centre in Durban to get autographs and photos from Bollywood stars and local celebrities.

Famous names included Dia Mirza, Shilpa Shirodkar, Richa Chadda, Raveena Tandon, Farah Khan, rapper Hard Kaur and Isidingo stars Maurice Paige and Letoya Mangezi.

Tandon and Mirza told The Witness they were thrilled to be back in Durban.

“I’ve been here many times and it’s always wonderful,” Tandon said. “I think the Saifta will be a great opportunity to get an exchange of music, culture, television and for us to get to know each other’s country.”

Mirza, who filmed her first two Bollywood movies in Durban, added that she believed it would deepen the friendship between the two countries and that the awards would eventually have a global influence.

“I think the Saifta will definitely encourage an exchange of talent … we already use South African make-up artists a lot, especially when we need prosthetics,” she added.

Rapper, Hard Kaur (aka Taran Kaur Dhillon), who delivered a powerhouse performance on stage with a local hip-hop crew, said the Saifta gave artists like her a platform and the chance to come to SA to meet fans.

The project was also greeted with enthusiasm by Mangezi, who plays Ayanda in Isidingo. She said the Saiftas were “an amazing initiative”, adding: “I’m so proud to be part of it … [and] I think it will provide so many work opportunities for everyone in the industry, from crew members to actors and actresses … I’m hoping I get a slot!”

Paige agreed. He plays Calvin in the SABC3 soapie and got teased about not wearing shirts by Aunty Rumba, one of Naidoo’s Eastern Mosaic characters. He said he was hoping to meet a few producers and directors at the launch.

“I would love to have the opportunity to be in a Bollywood film,” he added.

Upstairs, in the ICC foyer, guests enjoyed champagne and marvelled at the fashions of Durban-based designer Haroun Hansrot and David Tlale — fresh from showing his latest collection at New York Fashion Week — who both created special installations using live models.

Hansrot, who dressed several of the women on the red carpet, said the Saifta was “exactly what Durban needed”, adding: “People can dress up and support local fashion and music.”

The spectacular show was created by Kedhar Gawde and Rakshanda Khan, of Celebrity Locker Entertainment. Guests were treated to song- and-dance numbers from Hard Kaur, Sri Lankan model/actress Fernandez (Murder 2, Housefull 2) — who entered on an illuminated rickshaw pulled by Zulu warriors — and energetic television personality and singer Anusha Dandekar.

The 40 local dancers, who were chosen to perform at the launch during auditions in Durban earlier this month, had just 10 days to get their routines, choreographed by Geeta Kapur (Slumdog Millionaire), perfected.

There was also a spectacular fashion show by Indian designers Alpa & Reena and jewellery by Akshar Choudree. The outfits were a combination of flowing, bejewelled, traditional Indian haute couture, dramatic African flair and sparkling fine jewellery. Among the models was Soresha Reddy, wife of Durban businessman Vivien Reddy.

During the evening, the judges who will have the hard task of choosing the winners at the inaugural Saifta in Durban on September 6, and the trophy they will receive, were announced.

Bollywood will be represented by director, actress and screenwriter Farah Khan; film and theatre actor Boman Irani; Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, film-maker and screenwriter; Shabana Azmi, film, television and theatre actress; film producer Mukesh Bhatt; and veteran film actress Waheeda Rehman.

The South African judges are actress Leleti Khumalo (Sarafina!, Hotel Rwanda); Durban theatre personality Caroline Smart; Welcome Msomi, director of The KwaZulu-Natal Film Commission; Linda Bukhosini, chief executive officer and creative director of The Playhouse Company; Peter Rovik, secretary-general of the Arterial Network; and theatre and television personality Saira Essa.

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