Bollywood royalty converged on the Chinese gambling hub of Macau on Saturday for India’s answer to the Oscars, with a critically-acclaimed crime thriller and a comedy about a prolific sperm-donor among the films vying for awards.
The 14th edition of the Indian International Film Festival, held in the territory’s glittering Venetian resort, comes as Indian cinema celebrates its centenary and sets its sights on global audiences.
Eager fans screamed as their idols strode the green carpet, hoping for the chance to get an autograph from the likes of megastar Shah Rukh Khan and Sri Devi, nominated for best actress in ‘English Vinglish’.
“Just to know we have so many well-wishers and fans overseas, it’s great,” said Abhishek Bachchan, the son of Bollywood legend Amitabh Bachchan said.
“I think Bollywood is slowly just progressively capturing international attention,” said popular Bollywood actress Amrita Rao, who was wearing a silver strapless gown.
But it was fan favorite Khan, wearing a shiny black suit, who drove the crowd into a frenzy as they chanted his name.
“I think it’s an amazing platform,” Khan said of IIFA, which he said brought Bollywood film “all over the world”.
Khan will share the stage with star Shahid Kapoor as they host the evening’s awards ceremony.
Romantic comedy ‘Barfi!’ leads the way with 13 nominations including the awards for best actor and best picture.
The light-hearted film, about a mischievous, but lovable mute and deaf man from Darjeeling whose life revolves around two love interests, stars actor Ranbir Kapoor, the great-grandson Prithviraj Kapoor, a pioneer in Indian cinema and an actor in the silent era of Hindi cinema.
Other nominations for best picture include critically acclaimed “Gangs of Wasseypur 1” about power struggles between three crime families spanning half a century, and rom-com Vicky Donor, about a whose romantic life is complicated after he donates sperm to a fertility clinic.
Indian cinema is thriving commercially after the country produced almost 1,500 movies last year and the industry is expected to grow to US$3.6 billion from US$2 billion in the next five years, according to consultancy KPMG.
Leading the way is Hindi-language Bollywood, which took the “B” from its home in Bombay and won the hearts of movie-mad Indians.
The International Indian Film Academy Awards, which was first held in 2000, was held in Singapore last year and is held in a different country annually.