The IIFA Diaries
Gloria in Bollywood Wonderland – Guest Blog
You’ve heard of Alice in Wonderland – now meet Gloria in Bollywood Wonderland – IIFA. Gloria Tadjalli (nee Ramchandani) is a diehard Bollywood fan who will go anywhere for a Bollywood event. She trekked out from Georgia to give us a fan’s view of the glittering IIFA awards being held in Tampa Bay, Florida, this year. While media will give you the reporters’ viewpoint, here we bring you the view of the people who really matter – fans! Without them, where would Indian cinema be? And while others get the viewpoint of the big celebs on the green carpet, here we get the view from the other side, the enthusiastic crowds behind barricades and waiting patiently on line for a view of the superstars – Lavina Melwani
So heeeeere’s Gloria, #1 Bollywood Fan!
The minute that it was announced that the IIFA awards were being hosted in the US for the first time in 2014, I made the decision to get tickets as soon as possible. The Bollywood scene in the US has been lacking for the past few years with very few shows, concerts and events to go to. This is the one event that will reunite Bollywood fans from all over the world with a star studded event full of performances!
IIFA 2014, Tampa Bay, USA
We decided to make IIFA 2014 an-all girls trip with old and new friends who shared the same mad love for Bollywood. Seeing Bollywood stars from your childhood with friends is what really brought the little girl out in me. I felt like a teen, screaming at the top of my lungs for stars from Saif Ali Khan to Anil Kapoor.
Fans from all over the world flocked to Tampa to see the star studded weekend at IIFA. So many fans, so many people, and so much love for Bollywood… America has been waiting for an event like this for ages and the response to all of the events leading up to IIFA were crazy! Fans lined up outside of the Hilton in downtown Tampa to catch a glimpse of the stars all day and all night. Not only were there large crowds directly outside the Hilton, but fans also stood in the parking deck across the street to get a glimpse of the star studded entrances.
Trend of the Weekend: Group Selfies!
My all-time favorite celeb sighting was when we spotted Vivek Oberoi at the IIFA show, attending a private event in the stadium. We were able to take a group selfie with Vivek, in fact he insisted on using my phone and taking the picture himself! My all-time favorite trend of the weekend was group selfies.
Rather than the “Every man for himself” attitude, fans were more open to taking group selfies with the stars which seemed to be the most efficient and fun way to get pictures! Throughout the weekend, I insisted on taking group selfies and met so many new people in just that experience. Of course we had our cases of photo bombers and stars who simply asked “what is a selfie?”, but overall group selfies were a hit with the crowd!
Priyanka, Anupam, Parineeti…
The most accessible and friendly of the stars was Anumpam Kher. He was always willing and happy to take photos with fans at any time. Another crowd-pleaser was Parineeti Chopra. Each time she arrived at the Hilton, she ran to the crowd to shake hands and take pictures with fans.
My most unforgettable sighting was Priyanka Chopra at a session on Women’s Empowerment at the Global Business Forum. Priyanka Chopra never ceases to amaze me with her talent, beauty, and strength. She sends such a powerful message to women and truly gives back to the community. Another great moment was meeting Mukesh Bhatt and Ramesh Sippy during one of the sessions at the Global Business Forum. They were both simply brilliant and so humble at the same time. It was truly an experience to be able to speak with them about Indian cinema and the contributions they’ve made to the film industry
The IIFA show was hosted by my two hot favorites, Shahid Kapoor and Farhan Akhtar who did a fantastic job with adding comic relief. Anil Kapoor begins IIFA awards with a a speech about educating women and girls and empowering them to take leadership roles! In Hindi “Padi gi ladki, pade ga desh” The star-studded show had performances by the best of the best: Priyanka Chopra, Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh, Siddharth Malhotra, Madhuri Dixit, and everyone’s favorite, Hrithik Roshan. Aashiqui 2 took away most music awards as it was well deserved! My favorite dance item of the evening was Hrithik Roshan’s performance at the end of the show. He performed to the best of his songs from ‘Ek Pal Ka Jeena’ (Kaho Na Pyar Hai) all the way to ‘Senorita’ from Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara. The crowd roared as he lit up the stage with his mesmerizing dance moves. This was the biggest and best way to end the IIFA awards, his performance was hands down the best performance of the night.
The Lungi Dance with Kevin Spacey
The IIFA committee along with sponsors did a great job with the events leading up to the show. My all time favorite was the Global Business Forum which took place on Thursday and Friday at the Tampa Convention Center. It really gave the media and fans the chance to learn more about Indian Cinema and the impact of globalization. World renowned actors, directors, and writers all came together to discuss key topics such as globalization, India’s place in pop culture, economic improvements around the crossover between Hollywood and Bollywood. The hottest topic has been tapping into India as a market for the gaming and the music industry. Graphic India spent time presenting the new version of classic Indian tales such as the Ramayana and Mahabharata. The images that were shared compared it to the ‘Game of Thrones’ or ‘Avatar’.
This weekend alone opened up many doors by showing the high demand we have for Bollywood events like IIFA. Aside from the events that occurred leading up to the actual IIFA event, I would like to give my thoughts on the show itself. The show was definitely made for a much more intimate setting and I think that a stadium was a bit too big for this type of an event. IIFA has always been presented as an upscale awards show where A-list Bollywood celebrities walk the green carpet to show off the latest fashion trends. Attendees are always seen in long extravagant gowns designed by only the best of the best. This year, IIFA 2014 seemed to have lowered its standards by being hosted in a football stadium.
John Travolta at IIFA
The lack of organization and timing of the show really disappointed me as it is always presented as being equivalent to the Oscars and Grammy’s. This year, the IIFA awards felt like a Bollywood concert vs. a glamorous awards show with an intimate setting. The show itself also was very long and hiccupped by many technical flaws that could have easily been avoided. Overall, I thought it was a great experience and was well worth every penny spent!
All in all, what better occasion for Bollywood fans to reunite?
IIFA has truly brought together a worldwide tribe of fans. Standing on endless lines and hanging on barricades, I got to know so many people and made new friends who shared the same crazy passion for Bollywood! Viva Bollywood Fan Tribe!
( Gloria Tadjalli is a passionate Bollywood fan who likes to share her enthusiasm for cinema and the stars with everyone.)
Do you have a fan story to share? We’d love to hear it!