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In a first-of-its-kind event in India, and probably the entire world, popular magazine on Indian cinema, Filmfare, organized on Colors TV, a spelling bee contest for children of Bollywood stars in a widely watched programme on Saturday. The show, that ran for the better part of two hours saw the participation of over 15 star kids aged between 6 and 15. The contest was eventually won by superstar Shah Rukh Khan’s son, Aryan, who accurately spelt filmstar Ajay Devgn’s name.
After confidently spelling ‘Riteish Deshmukh’, ‘Suniel Shetty’ and ‘Ektaa Kapoor’ in the earlier rounds, Aryan ran into a stiff challenge in the final round, but to his credit, the 15-year old held his nerves rather well. “A..j..a..y..D..e..v..g…” spoke Aryan into the microphone slowly but firmly, before lapsing into a tense pause as parents and the studio audience hung on with bated breath. “and.. n” exhaled a nervous Aryan, prompting fifteen hundred pairs of eyes in the studio to turn towards the quiz master in anticipation.
“Aaaaand… that is correct!” exclaimed Karan Johar, prompting wild celebrations in the SRK camp that included six consecutive cartwheels by King Khan and an impromptu kiss on Karan’s forehead. Aryan’s victory, however, left the other two finalists who did not get the spelling right, rather forlorn, particularly, Nyssa – Kajol and Ajay Devgan’s daughter – who screamed “I hate you Papa!” at Ajay and ran out of the studio sobbing.
Later, Gauri Khan spoke to The UnReal Times‘ Page 3 correspondent, highlighting the effort that went behind Aryan’s victory. “It wasn’t easy at all. Aryan spent countless hours preparing for the contest, venturing well beyond etymology into the realms of numerology to equip himself for the tremendous challenge of spelling the names of our celebrities,” she said.
The organizers, not surprisingly, were thrilled at the the grand success of the event. “It was a fantastic evening!” exulted Rajiv Malhotra, a spokesperson from Filmfare. “The kids showed talent well beyond their years to spell names most of us adults would get wrong. We are now thinking of making this an annual event. Next year, it will get way tougher when contestants will be asked to spell film names!”
The event also saw the participation of Snighda Nandipati, the 14-year old Indian American teen who recently won the US spelling bee competition, as a special guest. Snighda, however, was eliminated early in the competition when she failed to correctly spell ‘Tusshar Kapoor’ in the first round.