Bollywood has come to Tampa Bay, and being part of the experience isn't always cheap. • Don't want to plop down $344 for a seat at the main International Indian Film Academy Awards show Saturday at Ray Jay? Or even $189 for a seat at the Magic of the Movies & IIFA Technical Awards on Friday? • No worries. There are frugal ways to connect with India's high-glam Hindi film industry. Here are a few suggestions:
Caitlin E. O'Conner, Times staff writer
Shopping with stars
Like the IIFA Stomp music and dance festival Wednesday, this IIFA event is debuting in Tampa. It's mostly a shopping experience with vendors bringing products from India, particularly clothing (including bridal wear), jewelry, handicrafts and wellness products. But IIFA says the expo also includes workshops and attractions, and that you can "catch Bollywood's glitterati as they visit, shop, mix and mingle at the expo."
While you're there, enter a contest to meet quirky starlet Parineeti Chopra.
With a goal of "promoting trade and commerce between two countries and cultures," the IIFA Expo is at the Tampa Convention Center alongside the registration-required IIFA Global Business Forum.
The free expo runs from noon to 8 p.m. Thursday, with opening remarks by Anil Kapoor at 1 p.m., and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
The biggest outlet for stars to come out and meet folks is on IIFA's signature green carpet. Expect the stars to be closer and more interactive than Hollywood on the red carpet.
"There's a lot of excitement on both ends," said actor Vivek Oberoi, who is hosting the IIFA Rocks concert and fashion show. "IIFA has been that bridge between Bollywood celebrities and the fans," he added. "IIFA has been that platform where we get to interact with these people, the fans who really put us out there on the map."
Tampa International Airport has already put out the welcome mat for arriving stars, whose comings will be tweeted by the airport (@FlyTPA) and IIFA (@IIFA) ahead of time.
The first full-glam event green carpet rolls out from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday before IIFA Rocks (invite-only) at the Tampa Convention Center. The emerald path reappears from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Friday before the Magic of the Movies program at MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre, and from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Saturday before the main awards ceremony at Raymond James Stadium.
If you happen to be a University of South Florida student — or any college, for that matter — there's more. Actor-director Anupam Kher (the doctor in Silver Linings Playbook) will show his short film I Went Shopping for Robert De Niro and conduct an acting workshop Thursday at 10 a.m. at Tampa Theatre. Free admission but registration at tampatheatre.org is required. USF is basking in the Bollywood limelight after actor-director Anil Kapoor announced plans to film there, for a movie called Saat Hindustani (Seven Indians).
Know your Bollywood
Don't go around talking about how much you love Slumdog Millionaire — it's British-made, definitely not Bollywood.
So what is Bollywood? "Bollywood" is the colloquial term for the Hindi-language film industry based in Mumbai, India. Though the largest, it is only one of India's many film industries.
Besides language and a more family-friendly vibe, the obvious feature separating Bollywood and Hollywood movies is the musical numbers.
"Our films are about song and dance," star Vidya Balan said last month when she visited Tampa, "but they're about more, too. Song and dance is a form of expression, and emotion is universal."
Falling in love? Song. Breaking up? Song. Having fun? Song. Need sex appeal? Song! That's why music and dance are so central to the IIFA celebrations.
Security and traffic
The IIFA events and awards won't turn Tampa into the armed camp it was for the Republican National Convention. Still, don't be surprised to see enhanced security and more traffic than normal, especially downtown at night.
In the evening, drivers should use N Boulevard to get downtown via the Cass Street bridge instead of coming in on Kennedy Boulevard.
The Hilton Downtown Tampa, at Tampa and Jackson streets, is the official IIFA hotel and is expected to draw crowds of film fans hoping to catch glimpses of their favorite stars.
As a result, officials say there may be intermittent lane and road closures along Tampa Street between Kennedy and Whiting Street and Jackson between Ashley Drive and Florida Avenue.
Harbour Island likely will be affected Thursday night, when the IIFA Rocks live music and fashion show will bring about 2,500 VIPs to the Tampa Convention Center. Roads around the convention center and the S Harbour Island Boulevard bridge will be closed from 5 p.m. until after the event. The S Beneficial Drive bridge will remain open.
Real-time alerts: Sign up for text or email alerts to your cellphone, mobile device, email or land-line phone at tampagov.net/AlertTampa or call (813) 231-6184. City Hall also will post tips on the city and Tampa police Facebook pages as well as @cityoftampa and @tampapd on Twitter.
Times staff writer Richard Danielson contributed to this report.