Reflections on IIFA

The IIFA Awards 2011 have come and gone. The madness and sheer colour it brought to Toronto ended yesterday night with the actual award ceremony. However, a few events still are remaining with a few press conferences this morning at the Royal York Hotel followed by a private event to be held later today at the TIFF Bell Lightbox giving a tribute to the great legend, Raj Kapoor. It is yet another milestone in that showcases the diversity and culture of this city in the form of film and art. Attendees to this monumental event include the Rishi, Rajiv & Randhir Kapoor, the Deol family, Arshad Warsi and many other stars from the Bollywood industry. The event shall be hosted by none other than Anupam Kher, a close friend of the Kapoor family.

IIFA has really brought together a different experience, one that Toronto has not seen before. It is an introduction to a partnership in film that is to last a very long time. From the re-naming of Brampton Street to Raj kapoor Crescent, TIFF partnership with IIFA and the overwhelming support from both the Government of Ontario and the City of Toronto has truly shown the dept of this city’s culture and influence on all communities. Premier Dalton McGuinty had an absolutely fantastic speech at the IIFA awards outlining that it is not what divides us but what we share in common that makes such events happen. Partnerships such as this should continue to build, creating new opportunities for Ontario to extend itself beyond its current accomplishments. By no way was the IIFA awards perfect; The show was missing key figures such as Bachchan family, Salman Khan, Hrithik Roshan and other big names from the industry. Additionally, the excitement within the IIFA venue that has always existed in previous years was somewhat absent at the Rogers Center. Finally, we cannot forget the little mishap when one of the attendees ran up to the stage and grabbed Shahrukh Khan’s leg (I was surprised by how relatively calm Shahrukh was and the fact that the man wasn’t taken out sooner). Sure, we can always point the negatives, and trust me, there is a good list of them when it came to IIFA 2011. However, these are things that IIFA should look to improving for next years event. What IIFA did accomplish that it has not in previous years is introduce the Indian film industry in a unique and powerful way to the Hollywood world, and this was clearly observed with the attendance of Cuba Gooding Jr, Hilary Swank and Jermaine Jackson. Also, Brett Lee’s attempt at speaking Hindi showed how open the world can be to the Indian film industry (btw, he didn’t do that bad of a job either!)

IIFA is but the first step towards a lasting partnership. What happens next will tell if the spark that has been lighted by these awards can be carried forward and made into something bigger. Of course, only time will tell. TIFF has been known to share the enthusiasm and excitement Bollywood brings with screenings and premiers of movies in its yearly line up of films. Maybe this year, there will be a more pronounced presence.