By Radhika Bhirani, New Delhi (IANS) Ahead of the 17th edition of the annual International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) celebrations which is scheduled to be held in Spain’s capital Madrid next month, its organisers hope the Indian government comes out in support of the glitzy Bollywood gala.
From debuting in London in 2000, the IIFA event showcases the prowess of the multi-million dollar Hindi film industry, promoting the country and its talent at foreign destination year after year.
The event has been held at places as varied as Sun City (South Africa), Genting Highlands (Malaysia), Johanessburg (South Africa), Singapore, Amsterdam, Dubai, Yorkshire, Bangkok, Macau, Colombo, Toronto, Singapore, Tampa Bay and Kuala Lumpur.
IIFA, through the years, has garnered support of international governments to host its weekend and award event.
“The international governments realise that we are a representation of India in their country. But we (at IIFA) don’t get any support from the Indian government despite the fact that we are actually doing the job of the tourism department,” Andre Timmins, director, Wizcraft International, told IANS in an interview.
The promotion of the country, he said, not ony takes place on the ground but also on air, through the television and other media.
Timmins feels that were the Indian government to step in and promote it, this would provide an impetus to the event.
“Even though it is a private enterprise, the government should look at supporting us… And even if it’s not (with) direct money, it can be through marketing, or some help in publicising it or creating awareness around it. At the moment, we don’t get any support,” Timmins added.
He pointed out that governments that IIFA works with “fund a lot of money” in comparison to anybody else from India.
“We are showcasing our talent to various countries, to the world, and so I think that the Indian government and the tourism department should come forward and use this platform to propagate India as a tourism destination,” he said.
The foreign governments, he felt, were interested in getting involved “because they see value” in it.
“I hope somebody from our government would get involved on a larger perspective because IIFA today is not only about cinema but also about business, volunteer programs and we also propagate ‘the Green Agenda’ to the world. IIFA is all about India.”
As for Spain — where a galaxy of Hindi film stars including names like Salman Khan, Hrithik Roshan, Priyanka Chopra, Deepika Padukone and Sonakshi Sinha will be seen regaling fans from June 23-26 — the event organisers are getting aid in terms of funds, airport arrivals, fast track visas, security, road closures and venues.
“The Spanish government is doing a great job,” said Timmins, who is one of the three pillars behind IIFA along with Viraf Sarkari and Sabbas Joseph, adding that the event this year is poised to be a celebration of 60 years of the two countries’ diplomatic relations.
Spain is the fourth European destination to host the IIFA. Close to 150 Bollywood celebrities are likely to be in attendance, with an expected audience of around 20,000. That apart, a business forum will be held to facilitate talks of trade and collaborations, and there will be other attractions integrating talent from India and Spain.
(Radhika Bhirani can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)