Lara Dutta: Until next year

By Hindustan Times

New Delhi, June 8 -- It has been an incredibly busy week wrapping up the 11th IIFA. I had two days in Mumbai before I caught a midnight flight to Colombo. I was returning there after almost 12 years - a little apprehensive, but excited at the same time.

Driving from the airport at 6 am to the Cinnamon Grand Hotel on Galle road, I was amazed to see the heavy security on the streets of Colombo. Sri Lanka wasn't leaving anything to chance to ensure that visitors felt secure, and IIFA was its best chance to showcase its incredible hospitality. The staff of both, the Sri Lankan Airlines as well as the hotel, pulled out all stops and we were thoroughly indulged.

I had very little time to indulge, though. Boman Irani, Riteish Deshmukh and I had a difficult task ahead of us. As hosts for the IIFA for the third consecutive year, we worked hard to run a tight show. It's not easy to hold an audiences attention for SIX hours!! Twelve drafts later, we finally arrived at a script that all three of us agreed upon and then we started sharpening it, and rehearsing our routines.

I honestly couldn't ask for better co-hosts. We genuinely like each other and have an easy camaraderie between us. Boman is one of the most talented actors I know and Riteish is one of the best mimics in the business. Between the three of us, we've worked out a pretty decent formula of humour, glamour and entertainment. We work hard to be funny without offending, and trust me it's not easy. Egos are fragile and it's difficult to get everyone to see the lighter side of life.

Show night finally arrives and no matter how many times you've done this, 10 minutes before you get on stage you're a bundle of nerves! A quick prayer and a deep breath later, you're on stage! Facing 5,000 people in the stadium and a couple of million watching on TV screens!

Bright, blinding lights, heart pounding wildly, you slowly realise that you actually love it! People are laughing at your lines, they're clapping, the crowd roars back at your greetings and you've got everyone going. Six hours later, my feet ache as does my throat as I bid everyone goodnight and ask them to join us again the next time around and I'm relieved it's over. I tell myself never again... until next year! :)

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