NEW YORK (TIP): Judge Melvin L. Schweitzer of New York State Supreme Court last week ordered the organizers of IIFA, held recently in Tampa, not to transfer or cause to be transferred any monies in their possession from the sale of IIFA tickets out of the US and appoint a receiver.

An Orlando Travel Company has sued the Mumbai-based organizers of the Bollywood film awards Wizcraft and US partners, complained it was frozen out of the gala’s business after helping bring the event to Tampa. Akarsh Kolaprath and his family’s company, 7M Tours, contend they worked for three years to bring the International Indian Film Academy’s awards to the United States, spending $265,000 along the way.

The suit contends that Patel and Wizcraft International Entertainment shoved Kolaprath aside when it appeared that the April 26 awards show and related events wouldmake more money than organizers first expected The company seeks more than $7 million in damages. “They need to pay these bills,” Kolaprath, 37, said “They cannot just take us for a ride. It is not fair.”

Kolaparth said he started thinking of trying to bring the IIFA awards to the United States after watching the televised awards ceremony held in Macau, China, in 2009. After making contact with a Wizcraft subsidiary at a travel industry event in London, he said talks eventually started with Wizcraft executives. The lawsuit asserts Timmins and other Wizcraft representatives promised Kolaprath, as compensation for his help, 3 percent of the first $17.5 million in IIFA revenue, and all revenues above $17.5 million.

But Timmins wrote to Shah in 2013 that the 3 percent commission was to be split between him and Kolaprath. And in a Jan. 20 email included as an exhibit, Timmins wrote Kolaprath that “no deal materialized between Wizcraft and Chetan Shah or Go Bollywood Tampa Bay.Subsequently,” Timmins added, “this leaves no understanding between Wizcraft and 7M Tours on any kind of fees or payment due towards you.” Kolaprath’s suit also says that pursuant to a hotel, travel and tour booking contract that the Go Bollywood host committee signed with his company, 7M booked 1,800 rooms at 45 hotels in the Tampa Bay area and Orlando.

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A copy of the August 2013 contract is an exhibit to the suit, though Shah’s signature notes that it was “subject to final approval from Wizcraft.” But 7M’s reservations were for IIFA’s originally announced dates in mid-June. In December, after high demand for tickets prompted organizers to move the show from the Tampa Bay Times Forum to the larger Raymond James Stadium, the awards were rescheduled for April 23-26.

After that happened, the suit says, Kolaprath and 7M were excluded from preparations, and Wizcraft refused to help it re-book the rooms it had reserved or reduce its $1 million liability for the rooms it booked in June. The suit includes letters to 7M from the Sheraton Tampa East Hotel, St. Petersburg Marriott and Westin Harbor Island – all demanding tens of thousands of dollars owed despite the cancellations.

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