Girl power at its best at the Gr8! Women Awards
Bollywood actor Vivek Oberoi made a testosterone-charged entry by zooming in on a bike at the Gr8! Women Awards Nite 2011, but it was girl power at its best on Friday. Women from various fields, all based in the Middle East, were honoured for their outstanding achievements in a glittering ceremony replete with Bollywood song and dance spectacles at the Madinat Arena, Dubai.
"Behind every successful man there is a woman, but for all you naughty boys out there — for every unsuccessful man there's always two women," quipped Preity Zinta as she collected her award for her contribution to Indian cinema. The Salaam Namaste star dedicated her award to her parents who stood by her choices.
"Since it's not a film award, I don't have to thank any directors. And so this award goes to my father — the true hero of my life because he gave me an opportunity to do what I wanted to do. I would also like to thank my mother who taught me to live in this world without losing my femininity… she is truly fearless and resilient," said Zinta.
The actress was presented her award by actor-turned-politician Shatrughan Sinha who introduced her as the "hero among heroes and heroines of Bollywood" in his trademark booming voice.
Guests were also treated to some Bollywood flavour with performances by Oberoi, Jacqueline Fernandez and Raveena Tandon. The trio may not quite have A-lister status to set the stage on fire, but their lively rendition of hit songs made famous by current screen-scorchers such as Katrina Kaif and Priyanka Chopra set the ball rolling.
While 36-year-old Tandon, who is planning a comeback to Bollywood after her four-year-sabbatical, danced to Chopra's hit Desi Girl from Dostana, Sri Lankan beauty Fernandez made the iconic hit Dum Maro Dum her own. She dedicated her act to the legendary actress Zeenat Aman (who had originally featured in the cult 1971 hit song) seated in the front row.
Oberoi chose a different route to make his grand entry on to the stage. Straddling a bike, the Saathiya star broke into a high-octane dance to Tere Liye, a hit song from his box-office dud Prince. He dedicated his performance "to all the women out there".
"I truly believe you [women] are superior. Congratulations, I salute you for all your efforts and I pray that the Almighty blesses you back for all the amazing things that you have done," he said. "This evening is indeed special… to be among all these luminaries and special women." Gasping for breath, he proclaimed that he was a feminist at heart.
"Is it a OK for a guy to be feminist?" he then asked, adding: "Frankly I think you women deserve an award everyday for putting up with us men."
Next, Fernandez went a step further. After performing to Aman's Dum Maro Dum in a sedate, sexy style, she got off the stage and escorted the screen legend onto the stage and then honoured her with the Gr8! Lifetime Achievement Award. Billed as the original sex symbol of Bollywood, the 59-year-old actress received a standing ovation.
"I am truly overwhelmed to be here this evening and to be felicitated in such an illustrious platform. Thank You Anu and Shashi [Ranjan, the award organisers]. It's wonderful to be celebrated and I dedicate this to my mother who was fearless," said Aman who has spent more than three decades in showbiz.
The awards night was also a campaign to create awareness for breast cancer. A former Health Minister in India, Sinha urged women to go for regular check-ups. "Now you don't have to fear cancer, almost every form of cancer is curable or controllable. All you need to do is to have periodic check-ups and correct diagnosis."
The Bollywood stars were not the only ones in the spotlight though. Dubai-based fashion designer Aisha Ramadan, entrepreneur Sarah Belhasa and lawyer Jayshree Gupta were among those honoured for their contributions to their chosen professions.
"I dedicate this award to all the women out there in the UAE," said Belhasa.
Tandon capped off the theme of the evening: "I am all for women power. If we put our minds to something, we can achieve anything," she said.