Musical Extravaganza kicks off Times of India Film Awards in Vancouver (with gallery)

TOIFA Musical Extravaganza

Dancers perform with Shiamak Davar in the opening number at the TOIFA Musical Extravaganza at the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver, B.C., April 4, 2013. Gerry Kahrmann/PNG

 

LARISSA CAHUTE
VANCOUVER DESI

The extravagant Bollywood lifestyle has officially taken over Vancouver.

Amidst the bright lights, vibrant colours — and even fire — was, of course, the Hindi film industry’s trademark song and dance from their top performers and singers, who all came together for the Times of India Film Awards’ impressive kickoff event.

Thursday night’s Musical Extravaganza at the Pacific Coliseum erupted with intense and deafening cheers from the crowd as Indian actress Neha Dhupia, known for roles in the 2004 Bollywood film “Julie” and 2008′s “Singh is King,” first took the stage.

The glamorous Dhupia, host of the premier event, officially welcomed Bollywood fans from across the globe to the first-ever TOIFA.

“Welcome to the most happening musical extravaganza of the year,” she shouted to the crowd, encouraging them to “burn the dance floor.”

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The actress and 2002 Femina Miss India embodied the perfect image for Vancouver’s dive into Bollywood culture: dressed head to toe in a sleek, black salwar kameez with glittering gold trim and jewelry.

But Dhupia didn’t waste much time as she quickly introduced the evening’s first performer — or “guru,” as she excitedly put it.

“The choreographer who can sweep you off your feet with his voice,” she said, introducing world-renowned choreographer Shiamak Davar.

There was nothing more fitting to set the tone than Davar’s exuberant personality and signature Bollywood style — which has transcended borders, spawning dance studios in Vancouver, Toronto and right across the world.

But Thursday night wasn’t just a song and dance performance for Davar — he’s been devoting countless hours to the inaugural TOIFA weekend directing both the Musical Extravaganza and the grand awards ceremony Saturday night.

He went back to basics at the Pacific Coliseum, starting out with a slow and solemn one-man show with his song “Jaane Kisne.”

Usually surrounded by a throng of dancers, the spotlight was just on Davar in a trim black suit.

But he was soon joined by two scantily clad dancers who performed alongside the seductive beat, Davar almost serenading them.

Naturally, his second number picked up the pace and he was joined by his throng of colourfully dressed dancers for some upbeat songs and friendly crowd banter.

“I know I’m not Shah Rukh Khan,” he joked, adding that he’s still “sexy.”

Next to take the stage was Shalmali Kholgade, playback singer from Mumbai who won this year’s Filmfare Award for Best Female Playback Singer for her song “Pareshaan” from the 2012 movie “Ishaqzaade” starring Arjun Kapoor and Parineeti Chopra.

So, of course, she opened with the award-winning number, surrounded by a sea of dancers swaying to the mystical start of the song.

But the temperature quickly rose as the beat picked up and the dancers began to move — the bursting flames may have also helped bring the heat.

The night’s third performer touted some hometown pride with Canadian born singer — from Ottawa, but raised in Paris — Abbas Hasan.

Hasan’s short and sweet performance switched up the Bollywood vibe as his one-man show delivered some westernized hip-hop with his latest single “Away” right into his debut single “Sona.”

The concert then took a complete turn as Dhupia introduced “the party queen” — British Indian rapper and hip-hop artist Hard Kaur.

Surrounded by a clan of dancers, Hard Kaur offered an abrupt twist with her intense and harsh beats — like her latest single “Peeney Do,”  boasting offbeat lyrics of “I need a drink” and “if I get out of control it’s not me it’s the alcohol.”

But after her few songs of rugged dance and hip-hop, it was a 360 right back to the Bollywood romantic ballads, with — as Dhupia put it — “the prince of romance,” Mohit Chauhan.

The two-time Filmfare Award winner for Best Male Playback Singer brought the crowd back to a calm state with his acoustic set, opening with old favourite, “Dooba Dooba,” which shot him to fame in his since dissolved band Silk Route.

Even with his laid-back acoustic vibe, he managed to joke with and get the crowd to sing along with him.

And the atmosphere continued as Dhupia introduced “the queen of good times,” Kavita Seth.

“Her music is going to touch your soul,” said Dhupia.

And the Filmfare Award-winning singer’s voice alone did so, as she opened with an a capella number, her vocals dominating the entire stadium, before she went into her infamous song “Ik Tara.”

While most performers had brief stints on stage, they all managed to get in their appreciation for the grand event and how pleased they are to be right here in Vancouver.

And Dhupia, of course, continued to maintain the crowds’ excitement for Saturday’s grand awards ceremony which will bring the extravagant weekend-long event to a close — but undoubtedly with a bang.


Times of India Film Awards Musical Extravaganza


Picture 1 of 19

Shiamak Davar left watches dancers in the opening number at the TOIFA Musical Extravaganza at the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver, B.C. April 4, 2013. Gerry Kahrmann/PNG

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