Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Bollywood stars greet Tampa Bay as award show tickets go on sale

TAMPA — The International Indian Film Academy on Tuesday brought two top Bollywood stars to Tampa, setting up a day of East-meets-West, naan-meets-grits juxtapositions.

"From an old country boy from Plant City, I want to say, 'Namaste, y'all,' " Hillsborough County Commissioner Al Higginbotham said at an IIFA news conference at the Tampa Theatre.

For Bollywood star Anil Kapoor, who has made forays into Hollywood with Slumdog Millionaire and Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol, it was a setting that inspired confidence for the IIFA awards weekend, scheduled for April 24-26.

"I just don't want to leave this place," Kapoor told a crowd of organizers, members of the bay area's Indian-American community, business leaders and journalists inside the historic Mediterranean-style downtown theater. "This theater is absolutely magnificent. It's fantastic. This city has a soul, and I can see that soul in this theater."

On her first visit to Tampa, Bollywood actor, pop singer and former Miss World Priyanka Chopra told the crowd she was excited to explore another part of Florida, her "favorite state in the whole U.S."

Organizers said that in the first hours of ticket sales, they had sold about 7,000 of 25,000 seats available at Raymond James Stadium for the weekend's awards ceremony on the night of April 26. The stadium seats more than 65,000, but organizers plan to have the audience face the stage, so they're not using one side of the stands.

Ticket prices range from $93 to $3,295 through Ticketmaster, and IIFA is selling three-day premium packages for up to $25,000 through

Considering that IIFA hasn't done a lot of marketing, it's a good start, said Andre Timmins, a director of Wizcraft International Entertainment, the Mumbai-based company that puts on the awards.

• • •

Along with bringing back Chopra for a what she promised would be a "visually spectacular" performance, IIFA announced that the hosts of this year's show are heartthrob actor-dancer Shahid Kapoor, who has been a co-host the past two years, and director, screenwriter, actor and singer Farhan Akhtar. The pair hosted the 2012 awards in Singapore.

Atop the list of performers is another former host, Shah Rukh Khan, the international "King of Bollywood" often touted to have a fan following upward of 3 billion. Others on the list include starlet Sonakshi Sinha, rapper Honey Singh and composer Pritam.

Khan has twice been detained for hours at customs during trips to the United States, a fact for which officials reportedly apologized in 2012 when he was held at an airport in White Plains, N.Y., while traveling to give a speech at Yale University.

"Whenever I start feeling too arrogant about myself, I always take a trip to America," he said then in his speech.

IIFA plans to bring about 800 people from India, so making sure its stars get the travel permits they need is important. Timmins said the U.S. consulate in India has worked with IIFA and been supportive.

Organizers promised announcements about other stars as the event approaches. They also said that a new event, an "IIFA Stomp" Indian music and dance festival April 23 at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, would be free and open to the public.

"It's like a welcome party," Timmins said.

But the idea of holding an exhibition cricket match has been scrubbed. Organizers needed Raymond James Stadium to meet the demand for tickets to the awards show. In all, organizers plan to host about 20 events over three days.

• • •

Again and again Tuesday, speakers returned to the theme that an event like IIFA not only promotes Indian cinema and elevates Tampa's image, but brings India closer to North America.

"The medium of culture and art is the only way we can cross barriers of race, religion, caste and language," said Tampa cardiologist, businessman and philanthropist Kiran Patel. "The artists that are going to be here and what IIFA brings to us is that bridge of getting people together."

Patel believes in that enough that he has put up his own money to help make the event happen. He would not say how much, or whether it's more or less than the $12 million that the government of Ontario spent to bring the IIFA awards to Toronto in 2011.

"My commitment was enough to convince them to select Tampa," he said.

To the people of the bay area, Chopra promised an experience akin to Bollywood's on-screen mash-ups of romance, music, dance, comedy and action.

"It will touch you. It will make you feel emotions in all your senses as only Hindi movies can do," she said. "We make magic."

And she closed the news conference as Higginbotham had opened it, with a bit of India and a bit of Tampa.

"Namaste," she said. "Y'all."

IIFA schedule

April 23: "IIFA Stomp" Bollywood dance music festival at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park. Free and open to the public.

April 24: "IIFA Rocks" live music and fashion event showcasing the work of three Indian designers at the University of South Florida Sun Dome.

April 24 and 25: "IIFA Global Business Forum" with 120 CEOs of Indian companies at the Tampa Convention Center.

April 25: "Magic of the Movies & Technical Awards" show at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre at the Florida State Fairgrounds.

April 26: The 6:30 p.m. awards show at Raymond James Stadium.

Bollywood stars greet Tampa Bay as award show tickets go on sale 01/14/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 15, 2014 1:22pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Chris Archer knocked out early as Rays lose to Orioles (w/video)

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — Another short outing by Chris Archer led to another long afternoon for the Rays in a 9-4 loss to the Orioles on Sunday.

  2. Bucs-Vikings report card: Where's this explosive offense we heard about all offseason?


    O NO

    True, the Bucs defense looked pretty leaky in the 34-17 loss to the Vikings. But you know what needs to happen when the defense is getting torched? The offense needs to step up. In games such as these, with defensive players seemingly getting hurt every play, the offense needs to outscore the other …

    Minnesota Vikings cornerback Trae Waynes (26) intercepts a Jameis Winston pass intended for wide receiver DeSean Jackson (11) during the first half. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  3. Bucs-Vikings: Instant analysis from Tampa Bay's 34-17 loss


    MINNEAPOLIS — Here's Rick Stroud and Tom Jones' instant analysis from the Bucs' 34-17 loss at Minnesota Sunday. More to come from Rick & Tom — and Greg Auman —- from Minneapolis later today.

    Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Jarius Wright (17) dives over the pylon for a touchdown as  Bucs cornerback Ryan Smith (29) defends. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  4. Worst-Case scenario: Case Keenum, Vikings hand Bucs 34-17 loss


    MINNEAPOLIS — With key defensive starters out with injury, the Bucs were dominated by the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, with fill-in quarterback Case Keenum beating Tampa Bay for the third year in a row, …

    Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston (3) is sacked by Minnesota Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen (97) during the first half. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  5. Officials: 1 dead, 7 victims hurt in Tennessee church shooting


    NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A masked gunman entered a church in Tennessee on Sunday and opened fire, killing at least one person and injuring seven others before apparently shooting himself, an official said.