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When the stars shone

The who's who of Bollywood, from the towering Amitabh Bachchan to the latest entrant to the industry, were there at the International Indian Film Academy's award ceremony at Johannesburg.

Amitabh Bachchan, Gracy Singh and Honey Irani at the IIFA Awards function.

THE EVENING was both colourful and emotional. The International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) presented its fourth IIFA Awards in Johannesburg, South Africa, Saturday last. The event returned to South Africa in two years with more vigour and vitality. The first award ceremony was held at the Millennium Dome, London, in 2000. It was the brainchild of Wizcraft International Entertainment, headed by one of the directors, Wiz Sabas Joseph.

In the first IIFA ceremony, the flavour of the Indian diaspora was quite visible. Jackie Chan, popular star, spoke highly of Indian films in that show. Among the stars who have not missed the show these three years are Amitabh Bachchan, Aamir Khan, Mira Nair, Shekhar Kapur, Anjelina Jolie, Kylie Minouge, Bo Derek and Miranda Richardson.

Azharuddin and Sangeetha Bijlani ... in time for the "Armaan" show.

The second IIFA event, held at Sun City, South Africa, was a huge success. South Africa was more than willing to accommodate the requests of the members of IIFA board. The IIFA board consists of the bigwigs of the Indian film Industry including Ramesh Sippy, David Dhavan, Phahalaj Nihlani, Jaya Bachchan, Yash Johar,Vinod Khanna and J. P. Dutta. Amitabh Bachchan is not only a member of the Board but also the brand ambassador of IIFA. He takes keen interest and works hard to make each award ceremony better than the previous one.

The third IIFA award was held at Genting Highlands in Malaysia. Both Malaysia and South Africa wished to host the fourth awards ceremony and the board decided in favour of the latter promising Malaysia that soon it would get another chance. The Dome at North Gate, Johannesburg, where the ceremony was held this year, can accommodate 11,000 people. But for Saba Joseph, Spokesperson and Director of Wizcraft, it had been a mammoth task. For the first time, Wizcraft International decided to conduct a charity cricket match on the first day of the IIFA weekend. Permission from the Board of Control for Cricket in India and the International Cricket Council was obtained. And the event saw the likes of Harbhajan Singh, Dinesh Mongia, Mohammad Kaif, Zaheer Khan, Anil Kumble, and Vinod Kamli joining hands with the leading film stars — Sunil Shetty, Anil Kapoor, Salman Khan, Akshaye Khanna, Zayed Khan, Fardeen Khan, Abhishek Bachchan, Saif Ali Khan, Arbaaz Khan, Sanjay Kapoor, Venkatesh, and others. Director David Dhawan also joined the team. Three teams were named Samsung, Sony Eleven, and Sahara. Venkatesh, who led Sahara, won the match. They were thrilled to play on the Centurion Cricket Ground in Pretoria, where the India-Pakistan world cup match was held. A part of the proceeds of the match went to towards providing aid to Hindi cinema technicians, light boys, assistants, and the like, while another part went towards South Africa's Northern Cricket Union Development Programme.

Diya Mirza, Dino Morea and Lara Datta at the IIFA.

On the second day of the weekend, the IIFA forum held a panel discussion in which several distinguished members, including Smita Thackeray, president IMPA, Kunal Dasgupta, CEO, Sony Entertainment Television, Raman Maroo, Managing Director, Shmaroo, Harish Dayani, HMV Saregama, Shyam Shroff, Shringar Films and Ramesh Sippy, producer and director discussed various issues. After the discussion, the attention shifted to the world premiere of "Armaan" at Monte Casino, a huge complex of cinema halls, shopping malls, and gambling stalls.

As far as the awards were concerned, it was "Devdas" all the way. Nine awards in the technical category and seven awards in the popular stream went to "Devdas". The cultural show that evening was wonderful and the credit goes to choreographer Shamik Davar. Dev Anand and Anandji (of the Kalyanji-Anandji duo) received the lifetime achievement award this year. Saif Ali Khan and Shilpa Shetty danced to the tune of some old melodies. Rani Mukherji did a traditional dance number and the international renowned Las Ketchup girls presented some foot tapping numbers. It was wholesome entertainment with the best of song and dance.


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