Bollywood actor Varun Dhawan performs during IIFA Stomp in the Times Square on July 13, 2017 to kick off the 18th International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Festival in New York. / AFP PHOTO / ANGELA WEISS
Bollywood actor Varun Dhawan performs during IIFA Stomp in the Times Square on July 13, 2017 to kick off the 18th International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Festival in New York. / AFP PHOTO / ANGELA WEISS

New York: The lobby of a hotel at the bustling Times Square area here was full of NRIs waiting to catch a glimpse of their favourite Bollywood stars, who have descended in the Big Apple for the 18th edition of the IIFA Weekend and Awards.

Bollywood actor Varun Dhawan performs during IIFA Stomp in the Times Square on July 13, 2017 to kick off the 18th International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Festival in New York. / AFP PHOTO / ANGELA WEISS
Bollywood actor Varun Dhawan performs during IIFA Stomp in the Times Square on July 13, 2017 to kick off the 18th International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Festival in New York. / AFP PHOTO / ANGELA WEISS

From fans sporting colourful ‘pagdis’ and a family of three flaunting T-shirts reading “Shah Rukh’s fan”, “Salman’s fan” and “Aamir’s fan” — the excitement level was unprecedented as they welcomed the celebrities for the kick-off press conference here on Thursday evening at the Sheraton hotel.

Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty walks the ramp during IIFA Stomp in the Times Square on July 13, 2017 to kick off the 18th International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Festival in New York. / AFP PHOTO / ANGELA WEISS
Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty walks the ramp during IIFA Stomp in the Times Square on July 13, 2017 to kick off the 18th International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Festival in New York. / AFP PHOTO / ANGELA WEISS

Salman Khan, Anupam Kher, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Katrina Kaif, Shahid Kapoor, Alia Bhatt, Varun Dhawan, Kriti Sanon and Sushant Singh Rajput apart from DJ Dwayne Bravo set the pace for the IIFA celebrations here.

Bollywood actor Shahid Kapoor greets fans during IIFA Stomp in the Times Square on July 13, 2017 to kick off the 18th International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Festival in New York. / AFP PHOTO / ANGELA WEISS
Bollywood actor Shahid Kapoor greets fans during IIFA Stomp in the Times Square on July 13, 2017 to kick off the 18th International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Festival in New York. / AFP PHOTO / ANGELA WEISS

“We hope this is a weekend of laughter, happiness and joy of coming together in one of the biggest cities in the world,” Sabbas Joseph, Wizcraft International Entertainment, the creators and producers of IIFA, said here.

Bollywood actress Huma Qureshi waves at fans during IIFA Stomp in the Times Square on July 13, 2017 to kick off the 18th International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Festival in New York. / AFP PHOTO / ANGELA WEISS
Bollywood actress Huma Qureshi waves at fans during IIFA Stomp in the Times Square on July 13, 2017 to kick off the 18th International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Festival in New York. / AFP PHOTO / ANGELA WEISS

Riva Ganguly Das, India’s Consul General in New York, welcomed the stars to the city.

Bollywood actor Gulshan Grover speaks to fans during IIFA Stomp in the Times Square on July 13, 2017 to kick off the 18th International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Festival in New York. / AFP PHOTO / ANGELA WEISS
Bollywood actor Gulshan Grover speaks to fans during IIFA Stomp in the Times Square on July 13, 2017 to kick off the 18th International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Festival in New York. / AFP PHOTO / ANGELA WEISS

“It’s not everyday that the stars come to New York City. This is really India’s soft power at its best as we try to develop a relationship with the US further.

Bollywood actor Varun Dhawan performs during IIFA Stomp in the Times Square on July 13, 2017 to kick off the 18th International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Festival in New York. / AFP PHOTO / ANGELA WEISS
Bollywood actor Varun Dhawan performs during IIFA Stomp in the Times Square on July 13, 2017 to kick off the 18th International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Festival in New York. / AFP PHOTO / ANGELA WEISS

“I think people are at the heart of relationships — and people-to-people relationships strengthen relations between countries. So, I think events like this when they happen, it’s better late than never.

Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty walks the ramp during IIFA Stomp in the Times Square on July 13, 2017 to kick off the 18th International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Festival in New York. / AFP PHOTO / ANGELA WEISS
Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty walks the ramp during IIFA Stomp in the Times Square on July 13, 2017 to kick off the 18th International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Festival in New York. / AFP PHOTO / ANGELA WEISS

“New York is a great selection for the show as it gets great visibility for India because Times Square is really a place where the world meets. It’s a great opportunity for us to show our soft power.”

Bollywood actor Shahid Kapoor speaks to fans during IIFA Stomp in the Times Square on July 13, 2017 to kick off the 18th International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Festival in New York. / AFP PHOTO / ANGELA WEISS
Bollywood actor Shahid Kapoor speaks to fans during IIFA Stomp in the Times Square on July 13, 2017 to kick off the 18th International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Festival in New York. / AFP PHOTO / ANGELA WEISS

The three-day IIFA gala features the IIFA Stomp, IIFA Rocks and IIFA Awards.

West Indies cricketer Dwayne Bravo (L) is joined by Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput (C) and actress Kriti Sanon as he signs during a press conference ahead of the 18th International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Festival, in New York City July 13, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / ANGELA WEISS
West Indies cricketer Dwayne Bravo (L) is joined by Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput (C) and actress Kriti Sanon as he signs during a press conference ahead of the 18th International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Festival, in New York City July 13, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / ANGELA WEISS

The stars promised a “memorable” show full of fun and frolic.

Bollywood actor Salman Khan greets actress Katrina Kaif during a press conference ahead of the 18th International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Festival, in New York City July 13, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / ANGELA WEISS
Bollywood actor Salman Khan greets actress Katrina Kaif during a press conference ahead of the 18th International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Festival, in New York City July 13, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / ANGELA WEISS

At the conference, DJ Bravo also made the stars groove to a number that he sang live, and the fans cheered for the Bollywood celebrities by shouting “Chal beta selfie le le re”, “We love you Salman” and “Alia, you’re the best”.

Bollywood actress Alia Bhatt (R) hugs Katrina Kaif as she speaks while actor Varun Dhawan looks on during a press conference ahead of the 18th International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Festival, in New York City July 13, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / ANGELA WEISS
Bollywood actress Alia Bhatt (R) hugs Katrina Kaif as she speaks while actor Varun Dhawan looks on during a press conference ahead of the 18th International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Festival, in New York City July 13, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / ANGELA WEISS

Salman, in his typical style, said: “Chup baith jao… Awaaz lag rahi hai kaan mein. Love you too.”

Bollywood actors (L-R) Katrina Kaif, Alia Bhatt, Varun Dhawan and Shahid Kapoor react during a press conference ahead of the 18th International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Festival, in New York City July 13, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / ANGELA WEISS
Bollywood actors (L-R) Katrina Kaif, Alia Bhatt, Varun Dhawan and Shahid Kapoor react during a press conference ahead of the 18th International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Festival, in New York City July 13, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / ANGELA WEISS
Bollywood actor Salman Khan (C) speaks as Sushant Singh Rajput (L), Kriti Sanon (2L), Anupam Kher (2R) and Varun Dhawan listen during a press conference ahead of the 18th International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Festival, in New York City July 13, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / ANGELA WEISS
Bollywood actor Salman Khan (C) speaks as Sushant Singh Rajput (L), Kriti Sanon (2L), Anupam Kher (2R) and Varun Dhawan listen during a press conference ahead of the 18th International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Festival, in New York City July 13, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / ANGELA WEISS
Bollywood actors (L-R) Varun Dhawan, Salman Khan, Katrina Kaif, Alia Bhatt and Shahid Kapoor pose during a press conference ahead of the 18th International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Festival, in New York City July 13, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / ANGELA WEISS
Bollywood actors (L-R) Varun Dhawan, Salman Khan, Katrina Kaif, Alia Bhatt and Shahid Kapoor pose during a press conference ahead of the 18th International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Festival, in New York City July 13, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / ANGELA WEISS
Bollywood actor Shahid Kapoor (R), Alia Bhatt (C) and Katrina Kaif (L) dance during a press conference ahead of the 18th International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Festival, in New York City July 13, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / ANGELA WEISS
Bollywood actor Shahid Kapoor (R), Alia Bhatt (C) and Katrina Kaif (L) dance during a press conference ahead of the 18th International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Festival, in New York City July 13, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / ANGELA WEISS
Bollywood actor Salman Khan (L) smiles as Anupam Kher speaks during a press conference ahead of the 18th International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Festival, in New York, on July 13, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / ANGELA WEISS
Bollywood actor Salman Khan (L) smiles as Anupam Kher speaks during a press conference ahead of the 18th International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Festival, in New York, on July 13, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / ANGELA WEISS
Fans wait to watch Bollywood movie stars during IIFA Stomp in the Times Square on July 13, 2017 to kick off the 18th International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Festival in New York. / AFP PHOTO / ANGELA WEISS
Fans wait to watch Bollywood movie stars during IIFA Stomp in the Times Square on July 13, 2017 to kick off the 18th International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Festival in New York. / AFP PHOTO / ANGELA WEISS

(To receive our E-paper on whatsapp daily, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)

Free Press Journal

www.freepressjournal.in