IIFA through the Eyes of Vidya Balan



Vidya Balan talks about the upcoming IIFA in Tampa

Vidya Balan talks about the upcoming IIFA – Photo: Lavina Melwani


Bollywood, Tampa Bay – It’s IIFA

You could call it the traveling House of Wonders. One year it’s in South Africa, another in Singapore and yet another in Dubai. It’s a virtual orgy for Bollywood lovers with everyone from Amitabh Bachchan to Shah Rukh Khan to Kareena Kapoor having graced past events.

We’re talking of course about the International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) and there’s good news for Bollywood fans in the US – IIFA is coming to Tampa Bay this year, from April 23-26.

So gear up for an evening of of music, dance and awards, with performances from Kareena Kapoor Khan, Sonakshi Sinha, Farhan Akthar, Bipasha Basu and music by Pritam. The show will be hosted by Saif Ali Khan and actor-comedian Vir Das.

Saif, Kareena, Madhuri & More

For fans who want to rub shoulders with celebrity, there’s quite a red carpet contingent coming – Farhan Akhtar, Kareena Kapoor, Saif Ali Khan, Madhuri Dixit-Nene, Shruti Hassan, Sonakshi Sinha, Anil Kapoor, Shahid Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra, Sri Devi & Boney Kapoor, Shabana Azmi and Javed Akhtar. There’s also Rakeysh Om Prakash Mehra, Dr. Kamal Hassan, Shekhar Kapoor,  Anupam Kher, Ritesh Deshmukh, Genelia D’souza, Boman Irani, Fardeen Khan and of course, Vidya Balan.

Recently Vidya Balan traveled to New York, Atlanta and Houston to tell diehard fans in the US about the big event.  She has gorgeous features, intelligent eyes and a smile that lights up the room. Dressed in a black and white checked saree with an orange jacket and DKNY high heels, Vidya Balan  managed to look both traditional – and modern. She’s one of those women who ooze smarts and beauty.

Vidya Balan has had a great relationship with IIFA ever since her debut film ‘Parineeta’ was shown at the festival in Amsterdam. That was the start of her career and now of course, she’s one of the most admired actresses in Bollywood, having won the best actress award three times in four years.  “I do feel I belong to the IIFA family,” she said, saying that IIFA had  helped familiarize people globally with Indian films. She recalled the huge interest of mainstream Americans too when she came this year for the India Day Parade. One of the exciting events fans can look forward to is a master-class she will be conducting with Hollywood actor Kevin Spacey during the IIFA week in Tampa Bay.


Sabaas Joseph, Vidya Balan and Dr. Kirit Patel

Sabbas Joseph, Vidya Balan and Dr. Kirit Patel


IIFA & the Bollywood Factor

Accompanying her at press conferences was Sabbas Joseph, Director of IIFA and the brain power behind Wizcraft International, the company which puts together this magical, seamless awards event. As he pointed out that while the audience for the Oscars is around 43 million, for the IIFA show it’s a whopping 800 million worldwide.

Such is the power of Bollywood entertainment that IIFA has just completed 15 years of successful shows, building bridges, through cinema, unifying communities and nations. Such is the power of cinema, says Joseph that tourism goes up by 30-190 percent in the cities where IIFA is held, and lots of business initiatives, community engagement and joint ventures happen. He gave the example of Australia and some Latin American countries. IIFA helps the cause of films – he recalls when a hardly known film ‘Lagan’ was shown back in 2001 in South Africa, in Sun City, Hindi movies were shown only in areas where Indians lived and were relegated to matinee shows. ‘Lagaan’ at IIFA changed the dynamics with it being shown for five days in all shows. Jump to 2014, and now films not only in South Africa but over all of Africa are released the same date as their release in India.

Balan and Joseph were accompanied by philanthropist and physician Dr. Kirit Patel who assisted in getting IIFA to Tampa, getting big sponsors such as Tampa Tourism. As he joked physicians always recommend entertainment as the cure all for life’s problems. Having got the local business community involved, he feels the ripple effects will be felt for a long time with Bollywood-Hollywood collaborations; there’s already talk of a film shooting with Anil Kapoor and daughter  Sonam in the Tampa area.

While film fans will get their fill, IIFA will also be a draw for business owners in Tampa and for tourism in that area.  Several top business leaders from India are expected for the business forum, headed by Narayana Murthy of Infosys and the environmentalist R.K.Pachauri.

Indeed, the sojourn to America has been long overdue, considering the US is one of the strongest markets for Indian cinema, be it Hindi or regional languages. Ticketing information and other details are HERE If you aren’t able to make it to the big awards ceremony, there’s yet another celebration – IIFA Stomp, by the Tampa Bay community on April 23rd  with Indian music, dance and cuisine in the Curtis Hixon Waterfont Park in Tampa. This open for general public event will feature popular DJs led by Ravi Drums and Akbar Sami.

Go, Bollywood, go!








About Author

Lavina Melwani is a New York-based journalist who writes for several international publications. [email protected] & @lassiwithlavina Sign up for the free newsletter to get your dose of Lassi!

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