Diff Coverage: Mood piece on Opening Gala

Gala glitz
Sum up the first red carpet gala of the first Dubai International Film Festival in one word, and it would be: Glitzy. Here is to the evening when celebrities rained on Dubai. Rajeev Nair writes

Surprisingly, the winter night sky above Madinat Jumeirah, the Arabian Resort was clear of stars on the first Monday night of December. Did the stars of galaxy-fame stay away because the stars on Terra Firma could twinkle all their way down the red carpet laid out in their honour?
The Dubai International Film Festival’s first red carpet gala, which marked its opening, was an occasion for flowing robes, jingling trinkets, graceful movements and smiles galore. And yes, they all “felt nice and wonderful” to be in Dubai.
It was a parade of swanky, gleaming cars, which in true showbiz style presented from their within that magical feeling of being a celebrity. The door opens, flashes blink and TV girls go shrieking…..
“Orlando, Orlando…just a minute Orlando,” they were crooning and Bloom simply walked on. The Troy star was a star all the way down the red carpet, all eyes on him, many hands to escort him.
But then Bloom had come later.
For the 8 pm start of the inaugural ceremony of the film festival, guests started as a trickle a good one hour earlier. For some, obviously, being fashionably late is not a good option. To stay by the side of red carpet and study the face of those who walk down makes for interesting observations on human nature.
“Interviews, anyone…” clearly, a ‘non-celebrity’ had joked to the TV crew. They simply smiled.
For the volunteers, and even many reporters, the issue was to spot a celebrity and recognise him or her for being one. Those who could have caused minor stampedes in their own turf, could have walked away unsung, and you couldn’t blame anyone. After all, a red carpet gala for film celebrities was a first time occasion in Dubai.
Some would look unsure as the volunteers, would greet them with a “This way, Sir, Madam.” They might give a hasty smile and then look straight. There is sheer grace in some. They melt into the ambience; they are born to rub shoulders with celebrities. They are natural. A few cling on to their mobile phones – the easiest way to hide your nervousness. Talk on, talk on… Sometimes they take a wrong turn, but of course, you can blame it on the phone. Some are visibly flummoxed by the spotlight on them. They find solace in their partner’s company and hang on to each other’s forearms. Some women are led, like keyed toys making a catwalk…
If bridging cultures was the essential theme of the film festival, making cross-cultural fashion statements was the flavour of the red carpet gala. Saris, gowns, tops inspired by the land of the dragon, furs, feathers, scarves, high-heeled footwear, fancy accessories, flashy silky, warm wools, sequins, jewels, pearls… and to top them all, peals of laughter. The women came in all wears – cuts varying in a desperate bid to be a cut above the rest.
“How is Dubai?”
“What do you like about Dubai?”
“Is this the Dubai you expected?”
The questions shouted at the celebrities were more or less the same. And, not surprisingly, the answers weren’t very unpredictable. It wasn’t the answers, any way. It was the way the answers were given. Grace, it seemed, comes from within.
The celebrities – actors Orlando Bloom and Billy Boy, directors Gurinder Chadha and Deepa Mehta, more actors Rahul Khanna, Feroze Khan, Fardeen Khan, Nicolas Cazale, the hero of the opening film Le Grand Voyage, its director Ismael Ferroukhi, a bevy of film actors and directors from the Arab world…
Gentle music played through the evening, its solace ruptured only by the shrieks from the press gallery. But then every wants a sound-bite, a quote, and you don’t get it easy…
The cream of Dubai community’s who’s who marked their attendance. After all, in this era of “society” columns, who can afford to miss the grandest of all festivals?
One hour and fifteen minutes – the stars were there, right within your reach. Afterwards, when they were all seated to watch the inaugural film, the sky above was star-lit again. And the stars, galaxy-fame, didn’t hide when the stars, of silver-screen fame, marched out again for the gala reception. Every star has a time…

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