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IIFA awards production an extravagant endurance test

Amala Benny, 19, center, takes a self-portrait with one of Bollywood’s biggest stars, Anil Kapoor, at the University of South Florida’s Patel College of Global Sustainability on Jan. 14. Kapoor was on hand Saturday night for the Indian International Film Academy awards show at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.

DANIEL WALLACE | Times

Amala Benny, 19, center, takes a self-portrait with one of Bollywood’s biggest stars, Anil Kapoor, at the University of South Florida’s Patel College of Global Sustainability on Jan. 14. Kapoor was on hand Saturday night for the Indian International Film Academy awards show at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.

This just in: Saturday night's International Indian Film Academy Awards show at Raymond James Stadium just ended.

Not really, but it seemed possible when I packed it in at 12:30 a.m. Sunday, with only four of 14 awards presented. The fireworks finale might have been canceled due to dawn. The stadium's neighbors probably wish it had.

The IIFA show was exhausting, extravagant, exhilarating, expensive and more words starting with "ex-" — a spectacular so sloppy that it could never be shown on live television. Cues were botched. Clips were run out of order. All this music and not a single acceptance speech was played off the stage.

And I loved every minute I stayed for.

This was an entertainment glitz-krieg, a collision of propulsive musical numbers, stodgy awards stuff, Cirque du Soleil stunts and comedy that can be described as vindaloo vaudeville. John Travolta danced. Kevin Spacey wore a lungi skirt. Fellini would be pleased.

The show started on time by IIFA standards, 100 or so minutes after the 8 p.m. printed on tickets. It lasted long enough to forget where you parked your car, at 3 a.m.

Most of anything that anyone said or sang was in Hindi, a lovely language I'll learn to speak before the IIFA returns. The percussive rhythms needed no subtitles, and even as Beyonce lives, Priyanka Chopra is her reincarnation, judging by her jaw-dropping Bollywood showcase.

Plenty was lost in translation; punch lines sailing over your ears, heartfelt thanks (I think). There was some fancy presentation of what appeared to be a coffee table book. Motorcycles raced around the infield seats during one musical blast — an unexpected perk for those $3,300 tickets.

Everyone who picked the true-life sports drama Bhaag Milkha Bhaag in their IIFA office pool woke up happy Sunday morning. Deepika Padukone was named best female actor for one of her three nominated performances; it doesn't matter which when you're that beautiful.

Saturday/Sunday's IIFA show, unwieldy as it was, can be edited into a fun package for Star India to syndicate around the world. Verizon FiOS and Dish TV offer the channel locally. A smart city of Tampa would plan a free screening for the masses when it debuts in June.

The show had an extraordinary warmup act, a throng of perhaps 5,000 Bollywood fans awaiting their idols' arrivals. They were excitable yet orderly, in some places packed 10 deep along Tom McEwen Boulevard where the limo dropoff point and green carpet were located.

I've been in similar situations at the Oscars, but this scene was astonishing. Probably the most civilly adoring clump of humanity RayJay has ever seen, pouring love on every celebrity they spotted.

Then again, much of the IIFA's first U.S. invasion could inspire, especially that curious knack for not hurrying. Makes you wonder if everyone made their departing flights on time.

Steve Persall can be reached at persall@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8365. Follow @StevePersall on Twitter.

IIFA awards production an extravagant endurance test 04/27/14 [Last modified: Sunday, April 27, 2014 7:54pm]

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