Bollywood stars cast spell over Toronto

Fri Jun 24, 2011 6:04pm EDT
 
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By Shadia Ismail

TORONTO (Reuters) - They may not be as familiar to North American movie fans as Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie, but Shah Rukh Khan, Anil Kapoor, Bipashu Basu, Celina Jaitley and other Bollywood stars are getting a lot of second looks in Toronto in recent days.

The actors dominate the world's biggest film industry in India, and are just a handful of the more than 200 performers who have been on hand in this Canadian city since Thursday for the 12th annual International Indian Film Awards, or IIFAs.

The show, which airs on Saturday night, provides the climax for three days of movie going, dancing, fashion, music and a business forum aimed at strengthening ties between the two countries -- something event organizers hope to do around the world, too.

"Toronto is definitely the gateway to North America and we hope to maintain a great relationship with this amazing country for many years to come," Sabbas Joseph, Director of Wizcraft International, a Mumbai based entertainment group who produced the IIFAs, said at a press conference this week.

With an expected worldwide TV audience of 700 million viewers tuning in to watch the show, tickets were scooped up in less than 10 minutes. Some 22,200 faithful, Bollywood fans hope to get a closer look at many of their favorite stars.

Debuting in 2000 in London, the IIFA's have been held on four continents in cities including Dubai, Bangkok, Colombo, Singapore, Macau and Johannesburg...but never in India.

The idea, organizers said, is to present Bollywood not in its home country, but on a global stage.

"We are building bridges through cinema across communities throughout the world," said Joseph.   Continued...