India’s Bollywood film industry is known for romantic, over-the-top musicals that increasingly are reaching a world-wide audience. To highlight the international appeal, the industry holds its annual awards ceremony every year outside of India.
This year, Bollywood, its glittering stars and its legions of fans, have come to Tampa, Fla. It’s the first time the International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Awards have ever been held in the U.S. At nearly all of the events held this week in downtown Tampa, the soundtrack has been throbbing Indian pop.
Bollywood Actress Priyanka Chopra speaking at IIFA Press Conference on April24th 2014 in Tampa
At an outdoor dance concert, several thousand people – mostly Indian- Americans – gathered at a park on Tampa’s waterfront. DJs provided the music and there were food vendors, families on blankets and even a flash mob courtesy of a couple of dozen young people breaking out into a choreographed dance routine.
In the past, these Bollywood awards have been held in international cities like Bangkok, Amsterdam and Singapore. Tampa, although on one of Florida’s most beautiful bays and experienced with hosting large gatherings, isn’t exactly an international capital.
Bollywood Actor Anupam Kher speaking during IIFA Work Shop on 24th April 2014 in Tampa
Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn says one selling point for IIFA was how well the city did two years ago hosting the Republican National Convention. “They wanted to introduce the Bollywood brand to the United States,” Buckhorn says. “It had never been here before, so they picked a city where there’s a big Indian-American community, with the biggest media market in the state of Florida.
Shabana Azmi speaking during IIFA Work Shop on 24th April 2014 in Tamp
So it made sense for a lot of reasons, and one thing we know how to do is put on a big show.”But even the mayor concedes, Bollywood awards are nothing like a GOP convention. “The Republican convention looked like me: a bunch of stuffy old white guys in suits,” he says. “This is nothing but glitz and glam and lights and music and beautiful people.”
Stephen Andrew Baldwin is an American actor, director, producer and author. He is known for his roles in Threesome, The Usual Suspects, Bio-Dome, Fled, The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas, and The Flyboys. Seen speaking at IIFA Press Conference on 24th April 2014