IIFA Awards: Bollywood stars cast spell on Toronto

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By Gurmukh Singh

Toronto, June 23 (IANS) Bollywood cast its spell on Toronto and the city's landmark 'Raja' York Hotel looked like an extension of any Indian hotel as scores of stars streamed in for the 12th International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Awards June 25.

A roar went up every time a star entered the hotel. Gulshan Grover broke away from his minders to pose with his fans and sign autographs. Arshad Warsi could be seen talking animatedly to his well-wishers before disappearing in the elevator.

Kabir Bedi, Javed Akhtar, Shabana Azmi and Lisa Ray had a lively chat during a discussion on 'Hollywood, Bollywood and Beyond'.

According to organisers, Zeenat Aman, Vikas Bahl, Irshad Kamil, Sajid Sharafat Khan, Madhavan, Mamta Sharma, Esha Deol, Nikhil Dwivedi, Syed Javed Ahmed Jafri, Kunal Kapoor, Hema Malini, Ameesha Patel, Chandan Sanyal, Abhinav Kashyap, Genelia D'souza, Kangna Ranaut, Kunal Kapoor, Mahie Gill, Rakesh Roshan, Ronit Roy, and Subhash Ghai too have arrived in Toronto.

Bobby Deol, Anil Kapoor, Dia Mirza, Zayed Khan, Bipasha Basu, Sonu Sood and Boman Irani are already in Toronto for the biggest-ever Bollywood show in North America.

The show begins officially Thursday with the screening of 20 films in threatres across the Greater Toronto Area. These films include "Chak De India", "Singh is Kingg", "Patiala House", "Namastey London", "Dil To Pagal Hai", "Dabangg", "Border" and "Dil Bole Hadippa".

The show will culminate in awards in 15 categories Saturday.

Nominations for the best film include "Band Baaja Baaraat", "Dabangg", "My Name is Khan", "Once Upon a Time in Mumbai", and "Raajneeti".

For best direction, nominations include Maneesh Sharma ("Band Baaja Baaraat"), Abhinav Kashyap ("Dabangg"), Sanjay Leela Bhansali ("Guzaarish"), Karan Johar ("My Name is Khan"), Milan Luthira ("Once Upon a Time in Mumbai") and Vikramaditya Motwane ("Udaan").

Salman Khan ("Dabangg"), Hrithik Roshan ("Guzaarish"), Shah Rukh Khan ("My Name is Khan"), Ajay Devgan ("Once Upon a Time in Mumbai") and Ranbir Kapoor ("Raajneeti") will vie for honours in the male lead role.

For lead female role, Anushka Sharma ("Band Baaja Baaraat"), Kareeena Kapoor ("Golmaal 3"), Ashwariya Rai Bachchan ("Guzaarish"), Vidya Balan ("Ishqiya") and Katrina Kaif ("Raajneeti") are in the fray.

"Dabangg", "Ishqiya", "Raajneeti" and "Once Upon a Time in Mumbai" have also been nominated for screenplay and dialogue.

Over 800 delegates, including Bollywood stars, directors and producers, are being flown from India, according to organizers.

Over 40,000 visitors are expected to descend on Toronto to pump nearly $30 million into the city's economy.