Nine years, nine moments: The best of DIFF
Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum with Tom Cruise at the Dubai International Film Festival in 2011
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Anil Kapoor develops a fake accent (2008)
We loved his enthusiasm, but Anil Kapoor, just after the success of Slumdog Millionaire, was like downing energy drinks laced with steroids. He said he was determined not to sound or act like Prem Kumar, his character in the Oscar-winning Hollywood film, but soon forgot. The then one-Hollywood flick-old actor developed an accent that was a cross between an American twang and a British drawl, sounding like an Indian call-centre executive attending to his Western client. Add to that an uncanny ability to look straight and avoid any direct eye contact. We got to sift through bombastic statements such as: “The movie is very Obama-like. Just like him, it crept up from nowhere and is creating such a sensational stir.” Or “Stop me if I sound anything like my character, Prem Kumar … I love the film and I love my character”.
Ranbir Kapoor’s cheek-lock on the red carpet (2009)
His film Rocket Singh: Salesman Of The Year may not have done too well at the box office but he scored high at the Diff red carpet premiere, hugging a journalist who couldn’t hide her adulation. When the other female reporters protested about being left out, he said: “Don’t worry, I will dance for you and I will sing for the next one.” With such a sweet deal, it was difficult to remain objective. Forgive us if we were unnaturally kind towards his salesman drama.
Rahul Bose a tad distracted (2011)
After Ranbir Kapoor, we came to expect the charm from all Diff guests. Then we met Rahul Bose last year. The harsh sun, the incessant clatter from ground level and phone calls from his friend about lunch plans left us and him drained. But when he did focus, he dished out some very intelligent responses. With an analytical take on any subject under the sun, this man can talk art-house and masala Bollywood films with equal ease.
Omar Sharif throws a hissy fit (2009)
Hollywood hunk Gerard Butler charmed the pants off everybody that year, leading us to believe that stars are real people. That notion was soon shot down the moment Omar Sharif hit the red carpet. Insiders told us Sharif was in a nasty mood, swearing at the photographers.
“Give us a smile, sir,” was met with “I am giving you a [expletive] smile,” from Sharif. Did his anger come from his French film being sidelined by James Cameron’s Avatar? We also heard that he was not happy with his hotel room, checking four palatial suites before deciding on one.
Sharon Stone cries us a river (2007)
She arrived looking as glamorous as a girl can be, draped in a blue fur snug, under a black gown with elbow-length gloves, short blonde hair swept to one side. The media lined the red carpet at the first AmfAR Cinema Against Aids gala at Bab Al Shams to see actress and charity ambassador and emcee for the night, Sharon Stone. She arrived, cried, and the tears didn’t stop flowing. Stone “tried her best” to speak to eager television crews and journalists but it all seemed too much. “I’m just so overwhelmed by the night,” she managed between blubs. On stage with friend Gloria Estefan, who sang a few numbers, the tears continued to flow but Stone did manage to hold it together long enough to raise more than $1 million (Dh3.67 million) for the worldwide Aids organisation, giving the performance of a lifetime. The woman could have sold ice to an Eskimo.
Colin Farrell gets jumpy (2010)
Someone should have warned a casually-dressed (shirt open, chest hair out) Farrell and his co-star, veteran actor Ed Harris, that the DIFF Green Room is adjacent to the festival’s biggest screen. Mid-sentence during an interview, Farrell practically jumped into Harris’ lap as an ill-timed explosion from his film, Peter Weir’s The Way Back, rudely interrupted his conversation. Shock was soon replaced with laughter for the Irish actor. “Scared the living daylights out of me, that did,” he said.
Gerard Butler, unedited (2009)
Gerard Butler couldn’t have been more cheeky if he tried at the sixth festival. He started by threatening to jump off the moving abra which delivered him waterside for the photocall, and then proceeded to banter with media, accepting marriage proposals and poking fun at questions which didn’t make sense.
Simon Pegg leaves us short changed (2011)
The festival opened in unforgettable style, with the first public screening of Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, complete with red carpet appearances by the film’s stars including A-listers Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg, Paula Patton, Anil Kapoor and director Brad Bird. DIFF went down in history and so did that night’s style: it was one of the few occasions British actor Pegg remembered to leave his shorts and flat cap behind and don a black suit. Aren’t we lucky?
Diplomatic Geroge Clooney (2007)
His legal drama Michael Clayton opened DIFF but George Clooney found himself treated more like a diplomat than a film star. Press and public alike bombarded the American actor with a series of political questions on Darfur, US foreign policy and Hollywood’s depiction of Arabs, in an energetic hour-long Q&A session. “We panic at times in our country but what we’re very good at is fixing those panics,” said an unrattled Clooney. “We are now in the process of righting some of the mistakes that our country has made over the last few years. I am not going to come to Dubai and call the president of the United States a terrorist. That’s not my goal in life.”
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