The 15th International Indian Film Academy Awards, the Oscars of Bollywood's yearly $7.8 billion industry, will be presented in the United States for the first time this year, organizers of the event said on Wednesday. Bollywoods's biggest stars are expected to attend the weekend event in Tampa Bay, Florida, from April 24-26 when the top prizes will be handed out. Indian actor Shahrukh Khan will headline the show.
Andre Timmins, director of the International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) and Wizcraft International Entertainment, said producing the show in the United States was a natural fit. "For Indian cinema and Bollywood today, while we produce 1,300 films a year and sell 3.6 billion tickets, the important thing for us is that after India, America is the biggest second market for our Indian films," he said in an interview. "We have always wanted to come here."
Previous IIFA awards have been held in Canada, Singapore, Dubai and Britain. "Barfi," a romantic comedy, won the top honors at last year's awards, when Bollywood celebrated its centenary in the Chinese gambling haven of Macau. Indian heartthrob Ranbir Kapoor took home the best actor award for "Barfi," which also won best film, and Vidya Balan nabbed the best actress prize for her role in the thriller "Kahaani."
Nominees for the 15th edition of IIFA will be announced closer to the event.
India, the second-most populous nation, is the world's biggest film producer. About 23 million people watch a Bollywood film each day, according to Timmins.
"A lot of Indian films are being shot in America. In the last 10 years there are more than 52 movies that have been shot here and close to about $150 million has been spent," said Timmins.
The Tampa event could generate $30 million, he added, and it is good for tourism from India.
In addition to the United States, Bollywood films are popular in Britain and the Middle East and have growing audiences in China, Russia and Germany.
Indian actress Priyanka Chopra, who will be performing at the awards show, said the boisterous, catchy songs, vigorous dance numbers and feel-good themes of Indian films reflect the country's culture.
"Music and dancing and colors and emotions, it just makes you feel passionate and alive and that's what the magic of the movies is," she told a press conference.
Chopra, who starred in Barfi, said the awards are special because they go to every country that has a huge number of fans following Indian films, and America is one of them.
"America has a huge, huge, huge fan base for Indian movies," she said. "I hope we do a lot more IIFAs in America because it is our way of going to the fans. They don't have to come to us."