Bollywood stars kick off IIFA events

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Flash mobs of dancers, dozens of Bollywood superstars hounded by autograph-seeking fans and a gala movie premiere kicked off the 12th Indian International Film Awards.
It is the first time that the award ceremony has been held in North America. The three-day festival got underway on Thursday, with an address by host and Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty in which he vowed that all Westerners by the end of the IIFA celebrations “will know the names of Shah Rukh Khan, Priyanka Chopra and Anil Kapoor just as well as Angelina Jolie, Johnny Depp and Rachel McAdams.”
Ontario has the second largest Indian diaspora in the world, topping 600,000 out of a total population of 13 million, “and their passion for Indian cinema has become ours (all Ontarians) too,” he added.
Throughout the province, groups of Indian dancers spontaneously erupted into dance to help promote the event. Thousands of fans gathered outside a cinema in a suburb of Toronto for the world premiere of the comedy “Double Dhamaal” and glimpses of their favorite stars, such as Mallika Sherawat, Dia Mirza, Shah Rukh Khan, Preity Zinta, Priyanka Chopra, Bipasha Basu, and Shilpa Shetty. “Slumdog Millionaire” actor Anil Kapoor drew the loudest cheers on the “green” carpet.
The Toronto International Film Festival Bell Lightbox – the flagship theater of the Toronto film fest – will also host a salute to the Kapoor dynasty on Sunday when the clan is expected to walk a red carpet and discuss their storied career.
Singer Sonu Nigam will take the stage for an IIFA concert with Grammy- nominated singer Jermaine Jackson to pay a tribute to his brother Michael Jackson, who had a huge fan following in Asia.
The concert will commemorate the second anniversary of Jackson’s death.
“When we first arrived in California, we were most entertained every Saturday by Bollywood movies,” said Jackson. “We were watching you from day one, as we were on the journey to becoming The Jackson Five. We loved the dance, the costumes, the entertainment, the set designs. It’s what inspired us a great deal as well.” But it’s the awards bash that will be the hot ticket of the weekend.
The multimillion-dollar show is being billed as the biggest production in the film academy’s history.
IIFA organisers estimate the elaborate staging involves between 800 and 1,000 performers, crew, designers, production managers, and talent, and the broadcast of it will be watched by 700 million viewers around the world. Launched in 2000 at the Millennium Dome in London the annual IIFA awards have been held in 11 cities around the world, including Colombo, Macao, Thailand, Dubai, Amsterdam and Johannesburg.