Friday, June 6, 2008

The glitz and glamour of Bollywood

The Indian International Film Academy Awards weekend has begun in Bangkok, and it's all a bit much to wrap my head around.

As I turn to Google News to try and make sense of it all, half a dozen sources are all running the same headline, "IIFA set to enthrall Bangkok." Funny, I don't feel enthralled. Not yet anyway. Here's more:

The glitz and glamour of Bollywood is all set to dazzle Bangkok with the ninth edition of the three-day International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) commencing in the Thai capital from Friday.

Apart from the awards ceremony on June 8, the highlight of the weekend will be the premiere of Ram Gopal Varma's Sarkar Raj starring Amitabh Bachchan, Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai-Bachchan on Friday.

IIFA is often derided as the Bachchan family show in India and called the Bollywood Oscars in the foreign media and the host country.

It has come a long way since 2000 when it debuted at London's Millennium Dome as a one-day award show to a three-day event that embraces trade, business, tourism, film premieres, fashion extravaganzas, bilateral engagement and an awards ceremony.

More than 500 Indian celebrities are present for the bash, if sources are to be believed. Aside from the Bachchans, there's Akshay Kumar, Kareena Kapoor, Katrina Kaif, Dia Mirza and Govinda. But among the stars, Shah Rukh Khan won't be among them. Here's more:

"He had been approached and invited. Unfortunately the period he spent with the Indian Premier League matches disrupted his entire schedule," said Sabbas Joseph, director Wizcraft.

"Shah Rukh has just begun his film with Aditya Chopra. So he is busy with that. But we would have been delighted if he could have come," Joseph said.

For the last two years Shah Rukh has not attended the IIFA awards, the brand ambassador of which is Amitabh Bachchan.

Is his rivalry with Bachchan the reason?

"I don't think there is any rivalry between Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan. Both have their unique space. Shah Rukh is a great entertainer in any scenario," said Joseph.

The weekend culminates in the awards ceremony at the Siam Niramit theater, where 13 honors will be dished out, among them the Best Picture award, which could go to Guru, Chak De India, Jab We Met, Om Shanti Om, Life in a Metro or Partner.

Oh, and with environmental awareness in fashion, celebrities will pose for the cameras on a green carpet, instead of a red one. A special award will be presented to honour Nobel Peace Prize winner and climate change scientist Rajendra Pachauri.

The event is basically designed for television back in India, with actual face-to-face attendance limited mostly to VIPs and celebrities, who just want to be left alone.

Tickets to the award show have been reportedly hard to come by, though according to a full-page ad in yesterday's Bangkok Post, "a limited number of seats are now available for sale." They are pricey, from 1,000 baht for cheap seats to 3,500 baht. The phone number given is +66831342287.

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