Bangkok, June 6 (IANS) The Bachchan family was the cynosure of all eyes at the International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) awards gala that kicked off here Friday evening with most Bollywood celebrities in attendance for the three-day prestigious event.
Thai girls in traditional attire welcomed the Bollywood stars at the Dusit Thani super luxury hotel, the venue of the event, as drummers set off a welcome chorus. The Bachchans - film icon Amitabh, son Abhishek and daughter-in-law Aishwarya - were always surrounded by a crowd of admirers and media persons wherever they went. The highlight of the evening is the premiere of Ram Gopal Varma's "Sarkar Raj", in which the three Bachchans feature.
"All the media persons, especially the Western media, have been queueing up to interview the Bachchans. They are also interviewing other stars, and one of the questions they ask is whether the Bollywood stars have any plans to work in Hollywood," a bystander at the hotel told IANS.
Preity Zinta, Kareena Kapoor, Dia Mirza, Salman Khan, Urmila Matondkar, Akshay Kumar and Zayed Khan are among the stars attending the function.
Around 80 metropolitan university students are working as volunteers, taking care of the Bollywood film stars and also their security. IIFA has dispensed with the service of bouncers for the security of the stars this year, informed an official.
"Sarkar Raj" will get a Green Carpet premiere, in keeping with the concern over global warming.
Many Indian fans can be seen at the hotel. "Indians have planned their holidays to coincide with the IIFA. They chase the Hindi film stars for pictures and autographs," said the official.
Amitabh Bachchan is the brand ambassador of IIFA, considered to be Indian cinema's version of the Oscars.
Speaking at an opening press conference, Amitabh said the event was being held to promote Indian films overseas. "Through Indian cinema we honour our culture, our traditions, our ethos, and we want to carry this ethos beyond our shores so that we can build bigger bridges between two communities," he said.
"Cinema brings people together."
The three-day IIFA includes fashion shows, business seminars and tourism promotions, but it's mostly about films, and increasing their international exposure.
Event director Sabbas Joseph described it as a business growth opportunity for industries related to cinema. "We stand committed to our objective of building a bond with our host countries that translates into business opportunities," he said at the press conference.
The annual IIFA awards are aimed at increasing the international profile of Indian cinema. Since it began in London in 2000, the sales of Indian films have increased in the host country after the event, he said.
The Indian film industry produces the most number of movies in the world.
Sabbas said Thailand has a focus of Indian cinema for one week but the rest of the year Indian movies get little screen time in Bangkok, and hoped this would change after the IIFA.
Other host countries have included UAE, Singapore and Holland.