NEW YORK (AFP) – The International Indian Film Academy fired the opening salvo in a weekend of glitz, glamor and music for its annual awards, sending fans wild with excitement by hosting Bollywood stars in Times Square.
Hundreds of people — overwhelmingly South Asians joined by bemused onlookers, confused tourists and a smattering of Western converts to Bollywood — cheered a fashion show and shrieked in delight when actors Shahid Kapoor blew kisses and Varun Dhawan performed on stage.
The crowd turned into a sea of camera phones and raised arms, a taste of the excitement building among Indian cinema fans in New York, the heart of a tri-state area home to around 1.8 million Indian-Americans.
“It’s so nice, I feel so proud,” beamed Neelam Singh, a 47-year-old software consultant and mother of one.
“It looks like a mini India,” she said of the so-called IIFA “Stomp” party in Times Square.
Living in the United States for more than 20 years, she and her girlfriends have been planning what to wear for weeks, some jetting in from as far as Atlanta and Panama in the hopes of seeing their idols.
Events kick off in earnest Friday with a concert honoring A.R. Rahman, the movie composer who won two Oscars in 2009 for best original score and best original song for “Slumdog Millionaire.”
That bonanza — together with the awards ceremony on Saturday — will be held at the 82,500-seat MetLife Stadium, an outdoor NFL venue across the Hudson River in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
“We need you to pray a little for the rain Gods to be on our side,” joked Kapoor on Thursday with downpours forecast.
The 18th edition of the awards, which some dub the Oscars of Bollywood, comes at a time of growth for Indian film in North America.