Sri Lanka taps Bollywood glitz to boost post-war image

Fri Jun 4, 2010 10:27am EDT
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By Shilpa Jamkhandikar

COLOMBO (Reuters) - Sri Lanka is hoping to use the glitz of a Bollywood awards ceremony to emerge from the devastation of a quarter century war and re-build its image among global travelers as a serene, sun-bathed Indian Ocean island.

The tear drop-shaped island is hosting this year's International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) awards, billed as India's Oscars, and pumping in money and resources for a host of Indian stars.

Sri Lanka has just emerged from a bloody war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, that killed over 100,000 people and ravaged large parts in the country.

"IIFA is a very good vehicle to help us re-build our image post-war," Dileep Mudadeniya, managing director of the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau, told Reuters.

The three-day IIFA celebrations, which has fashion shows and a celebrity cricket match, ends on Saturday with the actual awards night.

"Bollywood and its stars are recognized in this country as well as all over the world, and the kind of media exposure we will get during the event is unprecedented."

The award ceremony has met with some protests by Sri Lanka's ethnic Tamil minority which alleges government mistreatment and criticizes the way it handled the closing stages of a 25-year-long war.

Some 300,000 Tamil civilians were displaced by armed conflict, and subsequently detained in government camps, Amnesty International said in a report last month.   Continued...

<p>Bollywood actress Bipasha Basu waves to her fans upon her arrival for an event at the International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) awards in Colombo June 4, 2010. REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte</p>