KARACHI: The green carpet rolled out in Colombo this week for the International Indian Film Academy awards (IIFAs) that are being held this weekend.
The show, which is held in a different glitzy capital every year (the IIFAs have previously been held in Amsterdam and Hong Kong), is not without its share of controversy.
Absent A-list stars
This year, Amitabh Bachchan, the brand ambassador for the IIFAs, and his family, are not attending, after protests by Tamils outside his residence. AFP reported Sri Lanka’s junior economic development minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardene as saying,“There is a lot of protest from the (Tamil) Tiger lobby in Tamil Nadu to the Bollywood fraternity to boycott the IIFA Colombo awards.”
Shah Rukh Khan, who hasn’t attended the IIFAs for several years now, also refused to go citing work commitments and tweeted, “Don’t think I will be able to come for IIFA … too much work here, will miss Colombo.”
Other A-list actors including Ranbir Kapoor, Deepika Padukone and Katrina Kaif have also declined to attend. But according to Vivek Oberoi, “No star is bigger than the awards.”
However Bollywood still has a sizeable contingent in attendance. Anil Kapoor, Sanjay Dutt, Salman Khan, Dia Mirza and Lara Dutta have been promoting the awards in India and Sri Lanka. A fashion show featuring Indian designers such as Manish Malhotra took place in Colombo on June 3, and a celebrity cricket match is also on the cards.
Love is also in the air at the IIFAs. Lara Dutta has shown up to the event with tennis player Mahesh Bhupati.
The tennis-Bollywood connection isn’t surprising. Mahima Chaudhry dated tennis player Leander paes, and there were plenty of rumours about Sania Mirza and Shahid Kapoor a few years ago. Perhaps Shoania mania is contagious?
But while Dutta shows off her new man, other stars in Colombo aren’t as happy.
IANS reported that Bipasha Basu was missing long-term boyfriend John Abraham and said, “I miss John. He is the one person, whose company I miss the most here, not anyone else’s.”