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It was Devdas' nite at Johannesburg

By S.R. Ashok Kumar

Bollywood music director, Anandji, receives the award for Outstanding Contribution to Indian Cinema from the Union Minister, Vinod Khanna, at the fourth International Indian Film Academy awards ceremony at Johannesburg on Saturday. At right, actress Rekha after winning the Samsung Diva Award at the function. _ AP

JOHANNESBURG MAY 17. It was "Devdas'' all the way at the fourth International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) awards nite here today. The film might have missed it at the Oscars but it got its due at the Samsung IIFA awards at the Dome at Northgate, South Africa.

"Devdas" bagged seven awards — best picture, best director, best actor, best actress, best supporting actress, best lyrics writer, best female playback singer. Yesterday, it bagged 9 of the 14 technical awards of Samsung IIFA 2003. In total, the film has got 16 awards this year. The IIFA awards were given to 13 popular and 14 technical personalities of the Indian film industry.

Earlier, Amitabh Bachchan, the brand ambassador of IIFA awards, in his welcome address, said both India and South Africa have more in common. They fought for their freedom and have given more to the country.

"We Indians are proud that it is South Africa which gave us Mahatma Gandhi and your Nelson Mandela has referred that he learned a lot from Gandhi and followed his principles. We must all follow the principles of the great leaders like Mahatma Gandhi and Walter Sisulu. Indian film industry is at the crossroads and we are producing some wonderful films but it is all going waste because of the video piracy. I want the people not to see pirated films in the house and request them to go to the theatre and see films." He also said that he was floored by the hospitality of the ever-loving fans of South Africa.

The best director award was bagged by Sanjay Leela Bhansali and the best actor award went to Shah Rukh Khan.

The best actress for this year was Aishwarya Rai. The best lyric writer award was given to Nusrat Badr. Shrey Ghosal and Kavitha Krishnamurthy got the award for best female singers and the best supporting role award was bagged by Kiron Kher. All of them got their award for their performance in "Devdas" which also got the best film award. The best male playback singer award went to Sonu Nigam (`Saathiya') and the best comedian role award to Mahesh Manjrekar (`Kaante'). The best negative role in a film went to Akshay Khanna (`Humraaz') and the best story writer award was given to Jaideep Sahni (`Company').

Mohanlal got the best supporting role-male award for the film (`Company'). A.R. Rahman was chosen for the best music direction award (Saathiya).

The lifetime achievements award was presented to two veterans — Dev Anand and Anandji — of the music duo Kalyanji-Anandji. Rekha was honoured with the Samsung Diva award.

The outstanding Indian achievement in International cinema award went to Aparna Sen for her contribution to world cinema as all her film has won rave reviews.

The film "36 Chowringhee Lane" won the Grand - Prix at the Manila film festival. Her second English Indian film Mr. and Mrs. Iyer was screened at Locarno film festival putting India on the global arena. Ajith Gupta got an award for his contribution to South Africa for his work at Sahara Computors. Esha Deol got the Sony face of the year-female -award and Johan Abrahim got the male award in the same category. Samsung style icon award this year went to Fartheen Khan.

The function was a star-studded event at the Dome at Northgate auditorium where nearly 11,000 people were seated.

Salman Khan, Rani Mukerjee, Shilpa Shetty, Akshay Kumar, Saif Ali Khan, cricketer Ajay Jadeja who is playing an important role in "Khel", were among those who performed on the occasion.

Apart from the Hindi film stars and technicians, the Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Chhagan Bhujbal, Sunil Gavaskar, Mohammad Azharuddin with Sangeetha Bijlani, were among those present.

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