The icon of Hindi films, Amitabh Bachchan made an appearance at a glittering function here to mark the media awareness of the 11th International Indian Film Academy (IIFA), scheduled to be held here from June 3 to 5.

Coming exactly a year after the military defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), the event is expected to give a major boost to the island nation's cinema as well as tourism industry.

Bachchan made use of the opportunity to call on President Mahinda Rajapaksa and in the course of their 45-minute meeting, they talked about cricket and cinema.

Besides the IIFA function, the event would witness a 20-20 match between Hindi film industry stars and Asian cricketers.

Sri Lanka has been chosen from among countries such as South Africa, the United Arab Emirates, Australia and South Korea.

Parallel to the IIFA Awards, an international fashion show and worldwide film premier and a trade and business forum with the participation of over hundred CEOs will be held.

IIFA started in 2000, with the first ceremony held in London at the Millennium Dome. With the aim to take Indian cinema worldwide, the ceremony in the past has been held in countries like Malaysia, Singapore, The Netherlands, UAE, England, Thailand and twice in South Africa.

Speaking at the function Bachchan said that cinema is a great integrator. “I have always believed that cinema has been a great integrator. When we stand in the line to buy a ticket, we never ask who is giving us the ticket or who will be the person who will be sitting next to us in the hall, whether he will be a Sikh or a Buddhist.

“When we sit inside this darkened room called the cinema hall, we enjoy the same things, we appreciate the same songs, we laugh on the same jokes, we cry on the same scenes.

“This is what cinema represents and I can say that in today's world, which is so fast disintegrated, that there is this one example where integration is present and I am very proud that I'm a small member of this fraternity that brings people together under one roof, under same emotions and builds heart so that we can show examples to nations.” The actor said that everyone is calling Sri Lanka a small country, but he did not believe in that. “According to me, it's a very big country because it has a big heart and that makes it big. The kind of reception I have got here is by far the best I have got anywhere else.”

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