JAMES BORCHUCK | Times
Indian film superstar Vidya Balan is mobbed by fans Friday in Joe Chillura Courthouse Square Park in downtown Tampa. Balan was in Tampa and Orlando to promote the International Indian Film Academy awards at Raymond James Stadium. See video of Vidya Balan saying the Tampa awards will be "the best IIFA ever" at Links in today's Times at tampabay.com.
Bollywood movie star Vidya Balan created a stir Friday in downtown Tampa, drawing hundreds with an appearance touting the International Indian Film Academy awards weekend coming next month.
Balan, who has won IIFA's lead female actor award three times for tackling edgy roles, visited Joe Chillura Courthouse Square Park at lunchtime, when several hundred fans and curious bystanders gathered, many crowding a gazebo stage for closer looks and photos.
Food trucks dotted surrounding streets and a traditional dance troupe performed.
Earlier at a news conference, Sabbas Joseph of Wizcraft International, which organizes the awards weekend, announced several additions to the performing lineup including Deepika Padukone, one of Bollywood's hottest stars with three nominations this year in the lead female actor category, and heartthrob actor Hrithik Roshan, described by Joseph as "one of the world's greatest dancers."
The Tampa Bay area expects more than 30,000 visitors during the events scheduled for April 23-26.
The weekend culminates with IIFA's signature green carpet and awards show at Raymond James Stadium. Tickets for the main awards show are selling for as much as $3,295 each.
Tampa resident and IIFA sponsor Dr. Kiran Patel announced Friday that "almost 20,000 seats have been spoken for" at Raymond James Stadium.
Tickets for a second awards show, the IIFA Magic of the Movies technical awards on April 25 at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre, are on sale through LiveNation.com. Prices range between $100 and $840.
Balan, who is conducting an April 26 IIFA Masterclass with actor Kevin Spacey, said she expects IIFA to welcome more interest in Hindi films.
"Our films are about song and dance," she said, "but they're about more, too. Song and dance is a form of expression, and emotion is universal. Our films are about human stories."
She also declared she couldn't wait to return to Tampa.
"We Indians pride ourselves on being extremely warm and hospitable. And may I say that in Tampa we found our match."