Bollywood shows Cannes how to put on a party

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The Independent Online

Shahrukh Khan could teach Michael Moore a thing or two about working the crowd. Moore was at the Cannes festival on Saturday, clasping the Palm d'Or for Best Picture, but the glitterati of the world's biggest movie industry bypassed the Mediterranean film festival. And leading their party was Khan.

When the snake-hipped actor started gyrating with a stick, most of the audience of 6,300 wiggled along in unison and the rest roared approval from their stadium seats. Hundreds more fans thronged the red carpet outside, or scrambled up metal barricades to glimpse the arrival of 400 Indian "shooting stars".

This was the fifth International Indian Film Academy Awards ­ known as the Bollywood Oscars.It is rare for Singapore's police to struggle with crowds, but the frenzy set off by the prospect of seeing actress Preity Zinta live put them on their guard.

The prize-giving, sandwiched between song-and-dance numbers, lasted four hours. The night's most lauded film, with eight of 13 possible prizes, including Best Picture, was Kal Ho Naa Ho (If Tomorrow Never Comes). The romance contravenes the Bollywood formula because the hero, rather than the villain, dies. Perhaps this is why Zinta's co-star, Khan, was skipped over for Best Actor to match her Best Actress gong. Instead, Hrithik Roshan won for his role as a mentally challenged man in Koi... Mil Gaya (Found Someone).

Amitabh Bachchan, a leading man in Bollywood movies for decades, beamed with pride after the premier screening of his son's film, Yuva . Abhishekh Bachchanlater opened the envelope for Best Supporting Actress and, instead of reading the winner's name, yelled: "Yaaay ma!" His mother, Jaya Bachchan, for Kal Ho Naa Ho , had won.

But while expanding its global reach, Bollywood still struggles to move beyond formulaic plot lines that pit pantomime villains against struggling boys.