The viewer’s choice nominations of the Zee Cine Awards 2017 are out. While some are quite expected, a few have taken us by surprise, pleasantly so.

In the Best Actor (Male) category, Aamir Khan secures an obvious place with his commendable performance of a retired Haryanavi wrestler in Nitesh Tiwari’s Dangal. He had won the Filmfare Award in the same category even though he does not attend award functions.

Joining him in the nomination list are Salman Khan for playing another Haryanavi wrestler in Ali Abbas Zafar’s Sultan, Amitabh Bachchan for his nuanced act of a senior lawyer in Aniruddha Roy Choudhary’s courtroom drama Pink, Sushant Singh Rajput for playing the titular character to a T in Neeraj Pandey’s sports biopic MS Dhoni: The Untold Story and Ranbir Kapoor for projecting the bittersweet emotion of an unrequited lover in Karan Johar’s romantic drama Ae Dil Hai Mushkil.

What took us by surprise was the nomination of Akshay Kumar for Raja Krishna Menon’s period drama Airlift, in which he plays the leader of an evacuation mission in Kuwait. Several fans of the actor had expressed their disappointment in Filmfare when neither of the actor’s three Rs 100 crore club films was nominated in any category.

#filmfareawardsonsale had started trending on Twitter, owing to the same reason, though Kumar has gone on record to say that he is not interested in winning awards. Also, his other period film, Tinu Suresh Menon’s Rustom also finds itself nominated in the Best Film category. Joining Rustom in the list are Dangal, Sultan, Pink, MS Dhoni: The Untold Story and Ram Madhvani’s Neerja. 

The Best Actor (Female) category also has a fair share of surprises. The obvious ones are Sonam Kapoor, who played a righteous air hostess in Neerja; Alia Bhatt, who played a migrant drug addict in Abhishek Kapoor’s Udta Punjab and a commitment-phobic cinematographer in Gauri Shinde’s slice-of-life drama Dear Zindagi and Anushka Sharma for portraying a Haryanavi wrestler in Sultan.

The two surprises are Taapsee Pannu for playing an abuse of sexual assault, in Pink and Fatima Sana Shaikh for playing a Haryanavi wrestler in Dangal. While this may be Pannu’s first big nomination since her Hindi debut four years ago, Shaikh finds herself nominated in her debut film, if we exclude her innocent performance as a child artiste in Kamal Haasan’s 1997 family drama Chachi 420.

These are the nomination lists for four categories which will be judged by the viewers, and not the jury:

Nominations for Viewer’s Choice Awards

Category – Best Film
M.S. Dhoni- The Untold Story

Category – Best Actor (Male)
Aamir Khan (Dangal)
Salman Khan (Sultan)
Amitabh Bachchan (Pink)
Akshay Kumar (Airlift)
Sushant Singh Rajput (M.S. Dhoni- The Untold Story)
Ranbir Kapoor (Ae Dil Hai Mushkil)

Category – Best Actor (Female)
Sonam Kapoor (Neerja)
Alia Bhatt (Udta Punjab)
Anushka Sharma (Sultan)
Taapsee Pannu (Pink)
Alia Bhatt (Dear Zindagi)
Fatima Sana Shaikh (Dangal)

Category – Song Of The Year
‘Kala Chashma’ (Baar Baar Dekho)
‘Channa Mereya’ (Ae Dil Hai Mushkil)
‘Baby Ko Bass Pasand Hai’ (Sultan)
‘Dangal’ (Dangal)
‘The Breakup Song’ (Ae Dil Hai Mushkil)
‘Kar Gayi Chull’ (Kapoor & Sons)