Highlighting the international appeal of India’s Bollywood film industry, the International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Awards event is being held in the US for the first time in Tampa, Florida, Saturday.
“This year, Bollywood, its glittering stars and its legions of fans, have come to Tampa,” National Public Radio (NPR) reported noting, “At nearly all of the events held this week in downtown Tampa, the soundtrack has been throbbing Indian pop.
“At an outdoor dance concert, several thousand people – mostly Indian-Americans – gathered at a park on Tampa’s waterfront.”
“DJs provided the music and there were food vendors, families on blankets and even a flash mob courtesy of a couple of dozen young people breaking out into a choreographed dance routine,” NPR said.
In the past, these Bollywood awards have been held in international cities like Bangkok, Amsterdam and Singapore. But “they wanted to introduce the Bollywood brand to the United States,” Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn told NPR.
“It had never been here before, so they picked a city where there’s a big Indian-American community, with the biggest media market in the state of Florida. So it made sense for a lot of reasons, and one thing we know how to do is put on a big show.”
“This is nothing but glitz and glam and lights and music and beautiful people,” Buckhorn said.
Indian-Americans and some non-Indian fans have flocked to the Bollywood events this week,
Tickets to Saturday night’s awards spectacular at Tampa’s football stadium go from a hundred dollars into the thousands.
More than 20,000 people are expected, and IIFA estimates the worldwide TV audience in the hundreds of millions, according to NPR.
There are also red carpet events this week, where fans can see their favourite stars up close, NPR said.
One of those stars is Anil Kapoor, well known even to Western audiences for his role in “Slumdog Millionaire”. Kapoor was everywhere in downtown Tampa this week; dancing, cutting ribbons and doing his best to charm fans and the media.
“Congratulations to all the people of Tampa Bay. Tampa Bay, we love you, you’re the best,” he said to excited fans.
Inputs by IANS