By Ritu Mediratta
This April, Tampa Bay, Florida was host to one of Bollywood’s most prestigious awards shows, IIFA, better known as the ”Bollywood Oscars.” Organized by the Mumbai-based Wizcraft Entertainment, the awards show is held each year at a destination outside of India, and this was the first time it took place in the US. IIFA, an organization known for showcasing Indian Cinema on a global platform, orchestrated a full weekend of activities, celebrating Indian cinema with elements of culture, business, film, fashion, entertainment and music, attracting an estimated of 30,000 spectators.
Two-time Academy Award winner Kevin Spacey wowed audiences at the IIFA Master Class Panel alongside Indian actress, Priyanka Chopra. When asked about his thought of the two worlds (Bollywood and Hollywood) meeting, Spacey responded, “Well, it’s about time.” The two actors exchanged notes on acting, piracy, films and even reviving the theatre scene in India.
Later that evening Spacey made his way down the IIFA green carpet with Indian Cinema’s top billed actress Deepika Padukone – a photo opportunity that delighted the international media.
In one of the award ceremony’s most memorable moments, Spacey then joined the IIFA Awards co-hosts, actors Shahid Kapoor and Farhan Akthar for a dance performance. Together the actors put on lungis (Indian sarongs) and matched steps to the 2013 global hit, ‘Lungi Dance’ before a 25,000 strong crowd at the Raymond James Stadium. To help cap the evening, he then handed the Entertainer of the Year award to Padukone, who had four back-to-back hits last year including “Race 2,” “Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani,” “Chennai Express” and “Ram-Leela.” And what awards ceremony is not complete now without a selfie? IIFA’s included Spacey, Kapoor, Akthar, Shabana Azmi, Javed Akhtar, Sonakshi Sinha, Shatrughan Sinha.
Andrew Timmins, the director of IIFA and Wizcraft later noted, “It was an absolute honor for us to have been able to host and welcome Mr. Kevin Spacey at the IIFA Weekend and Awards this year. Since the inception of IIFA in 2000 it has been my dream to use the platform and stage of IIFA to bring together the two world’s greatest film industries - Bollywood and Hollywood – and this year for our 15th Annual edition of the IIFA Awards this dream was realized with the participation of Kevin Spacey through his sporting and entertaining personality in participating at the Awards. He gave us one of the most entertaining and memorable IIFA Awards ever and brought major worldwide success to the event. He was welcomed and loved by the Indian film industry present who were all great fans of the actor. We hope to have him join us again and would love to work more closely with him to develop even more participation and great entertainment for our audiences next time.”