Indian celebs center stage at awards show

PEOPLE came to the Sangeet Indian music awards Saturday for singing, dancing and celebrities, and they were well-rewarded.

Mehta Entertainment imported renowned talent from India and Pakistan to perform at the Oakland Arena for an appreciative, almost entirely South Asian crowd.

The thousands of fans who turned out got to see movie stars hand out awards, lip-sync and dance in 20-person production numbers.

A-list Bollywood stars Salman Khan, Shahrukh Khan (no relation) and Rani Mukherjee elicited screams and applause with their entrances. The MCs, video jockey Anusha and singer Shaan tried to keep the audience focused on the music awards, but their requests to "calm down" were mostly in vain, whether they spoke in Hindi or English.

Mehta Entertainment billed the event as the Indian Grammys, but it will take several years for the show to attain that sort of prestige.

This was only the second annual Sangeet Awards (the first was in London), half the winners weren't present and the same nominees won repeatedly.

In truth, the show was a concert, a sequel to the 2002 Heartthrobs tour (starring Bollywood's up-and-coming star Hrithik Roshan) and the 2004 Temptation tour, which also featured Shahrukh Khan and Rani Mukherjee.

The celebrities invariably thanked "San Francisco" for its adulation. This didn't seem to bother the people who had driven from Fremont, Milpitas, Mountain View or Sunnyvale. The border between Pakistan and India also proved no barrier as Faakhir, a Pakistani singer, performed his fusion pop to cheers.

Of the stars that showed up, perhaps Salman Khan provoked the most shrieks. Americans who don't follow Bollywood may not know Salman's reputation as the bad boy of Bollywood — he is about to face trial on a charge related to a fatal hit-and-run accident in Bombay.

But no one seemed to care. When the former boyfriend of India megastar Miss World Aishwarya Rai took the stage, dancing to a medley of blockbuster film songs, his T-shirt said it all: "ME ME ME."