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06-13-2009, 02:30 PM #1
India's stars vie for 'Bollywood Oscars'
MACAU – India's brightest movie stars will vie for top honours at the "Bollywood Oscars", the climax of an annual extravaganza for the Hindi film industry.
The ceremony, which concludes the three-day International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) event at the giant Venetian resort in Macau, will be attended by 500 Bollywood luminaries and an 8,000-strong audience.
Organisers estimate that the awards in the southern Chinese territory will be watched by 500 million TV viewers worldwide.
The glitzy night will be opened by Amitabh Bachchan, an Indian film legend and IIFA's ambassador, before the spectacular show gets underway.
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, former Miss World and Bachchan's daughter-in-law, who is also nominated for the best actress award, will be one of the main draws during the show featuring colourful Indian dances and songs.
Up-and-coming actress Sonam Kapoor, whose father starred as the host of the game show "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" in the Oscar-winning film "Slumdog Millionaire," will make her maiden live performance.
Stars Abhishek Bachchan, Sushmita Sen, and Govinda will also be appearing at the ceremony.
The six films vying for the coveted Best Picture award are "Jodhaa Akbar," "Ghajini," "Rock On," "A Wednesday," "Dostana," and "Race."
Film critics' tips for the top honours are divided between Indian epic "Jodhaa Akbar," action-thriller "Ghajini," and "Rock On," a story of four friends reliving their past together as a rock band.
"These three nominations alone can illustrate the diversity of the films that India can offer to the world," Taran Adarsh, a film critic and analyst of Bollywood, told AFP.
The extravaganza, now in its tenth year, is staged outside India every year in an effort to increase the international profile of Bollywood films. It features premieres, media sessions, trade forums, and a grand fashion show.
After the first IIFA awards in London, Hindi cinema ticket sales grew 35 percent in Britain over the following six months, organisers said.
Indian filmmakers are also said to be flocking to Thailand to shoot their movies after the awards were held in Bangkok last year.
Previous locations include Johannesburg and Amsterdam.
"What's surprising is that in Mumbai, people in Bollywood do not interact with each other because life there is so hectic. It's only here that we interact with each other," said Adarsh, who has attended almost all the IIFA awards events.
Sabbas Joseph, director of IIFA, told AFP that this year's awards marked a decade of achievement for Bollywood.
"What's exciting is that this is really a golden decade for Indian cinema," he said, stressing that the victory of "Slumdog," which grabbed eight awards at this year's Oscars, was just one of the many examples of the industry's achievement in recent years.
"We have taken our films to many different countries and introduced many different genres," he said.
The event is being held in the aftermath of a damaging row between producers and multiplex cinemas over how box office receipts are split. The dispute was finally settled last week after a two-month stand-off.
Even before the dispute, India's 2.3-billion-dollar film industry was feeling the pinch from the global economic slowdown, reining in budgets and actors' fees as audience numbers dwindled.
"As with everywhere else, we feel the pinch. But the Indian film industry will get through it," Amitabh Bachchan told AFP.
06-13-2009, 11:20 PM #2