Lage Raho ShahrukhShahrukhism’ Ruled at this year’s Central European Bollywood Awards ceremony, as ‘Khanians’ in the heart of Europe gave Kabhi Alvida Na Kahna (KANK) seven awards out of nine nominations in 21 categories, including the best film, director, actor, supporting actor, cinematography, costume and music. Mehru JafferShahrukhism’ Ruled at this year’s Central European Bollywood Awards ceremony, as ‘Khanians’ in the heart of Europe gave Kabhi Alvida Na Kahna (KANK) seven awards out of nine nominations in 21 categories, including the best film, director, actor, supporting actor, cinematography, costume and music. Hosted by the first pan-European International Bollywood Bloggers’ Meet in Vienna, the annual awards are announced online by molodezhnaja,the largest German language Bollywood website since 2003.The Vienna event was the first time that the bloggers met in person. All because of their undying love for Shahrukh, fans gave Kajol the best actress award for her role in Fanaa, as a signal to Bollywood that fans here mangein more films starring the couple. In the meantime, Shahrukh and Rani Mukherjee were voted the best jodi. The ‘Green Ladoo’ went to Dhoom 2 for the most disappointing film, followed by Umrao Jaan! However, the results provoked many ‘boos’ from the audience. Some waved banners reading, “Avoid Yaar!” when the award to Karan Johar was announced. Barbara Skoda, 35, manager of Vienna’s School of Audio Engineering (SAE), blogger Baba aur Bollywood, a self-confessed lover of the music of both AR Rahman and Mozart, owner of 240 Bollywood movies who wanted to marry Kabir Bedi when she was 10 years old after the actor played Sandokan on Italian television, and today “lattoo” over Sanjay Dutt, said “Bleh!” when KANK was singled out for award after award.“This is because KANK had better exposure here, playing for weeks in cinema houses across Europe, while Omkara and Rang de Basanti were publicly screened perhaps once, and Lage Raho Munna Bhai was watched mostly on DVD. If only German distributors and television stations screened more non-Shahrukh movies, the fan-base will increase and we won’t have to award only Karan Johar,” Skoda elaborated. About 1000 Bollywood fans participated in the online voting, out of which 800 were from Europe. Beth Watkins from the University of Illinois, USA, met European Bollywood fans in cyber space through her blog, Beth loves Bollywood, launched after she first saw Taal in 2005. She will happily help to organise any event in the future to give away awards in person, only so that she can march up to Karan Johar to say, “No, you can’t have it! Boooo!” At the awards, attended by 20 Europeans, Beth was the only American. She shared the dance floor with Professor Elke Mader from the Institute of Cultural and Social Anthropology, Vienna University, as the volume of Khaike paan banaras wala… was turned up to maximum.Professor Bernhard Fuchs, from Vienna University’s Institute of European Ethnology and author of Filmi Fulmi Masti: Bollywood Makes Happy, preferred swinging to Kajrare… Placards painted with “Wah, Wah” in colourful confetti and neon ink went up after Babsi Artner, an Austrian actress, announced that she had at last won a fine role in an Indo-German film to be directed by Himesh Reshammiya.But it is more than just masti that Europeans are getting out of Bollywood. Afraid that xenophobic elements on the continent want to cut off contact with people and cultures from other parts of the world, Professor Fuchs insists that international influences on Austrian culture are very important, “A person’s identity must be flexible. If it is not, it is totalitarianism against the self and against others. The best in human beings emerges when they interact with others different to them. Our love for Bollywood is the celebration of our capacity to be open to other cultures,” the professor said in fluent Hindi.Professor Claus Tieber teaches film studies at Vienna University. He sold 300 copies of his book Passages to Bollywood (with a two-page foreword by Yash Chopra), within three weeks of its release in March. He remains a fan of Amitabh Bachchan, full of admiration for the actor for giving the international community a glimpse into the life of ordinary Indians like coal miners and coolies. His courses at the university include Amitabh Bachchan and films of the 1970s. He calls globalised stars like Shahrukh Khan “cultural brokers”.To the life of Professor Mader, who teaches a course called ‘Myths and Cinema’, Shahrukh brings magic. She is not interested in whether he is a good or a bad influence; she studies the reasons for Bollywood’s extreme popularity. “Why are these people rocking to Bollywood music and not sitting like typical Viennese at an opera, or in a coffee house?” she would like to know.Therefore, lage raho Shahrukh…as long as myth remains a mystery.