Bangkok, Back to the Thai capital after a decade, the International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Weekend and Awards, commencing here Thursday, will not just feature power-packed performances by celebrities including the evergreen Rekha — performing live on stage after 20 years — but will seek to raise awareness about women’s empowerment, gender equality and plastic pollution. Ever since its debut in 2000, the IIFA gala has been annually exhibiting the prowess of Bollywood, celebrating the magic of Hindi cinema on foreign shores. The event has been held at picturesque locales like Johannesburg, Amsterdam, Dubai, Colombo, Toronto, Singapore, Tampa Bay, Kuala Lumpur and New York.
For its 19th edition, the organisers have a glittering show planned at the 2,000-seater Siam Niramit here. “We’re excited to go back to Bangkok. There are a lot of interesting things we are doing and we hope this edition becomes exciting for people to come and have fun,” Andre Timmins, one of the three forces behind Wizcraft International, told IANS. Bangkok happens to be one of the favourite tourist spots for Indians. Also, the Indian community in Thailand is estimated to be over 100,000 strong, according to the official website of the Embassy of India in Thailand.
Apart from the visual spectacle the organisers intend to offer to fans, IIFA has tied up UN Environment for the campaign “Beat Plastic Pollution”, the theme for World Environment Day 2018. Actress Dia Mirza, the UN Environment goodwill ambassador for India, will front this. IIFA has also partnered with Woosh Washing Expert to support the cause of equality at home via the campaign “Barabari Ghar Se Shuru”, which will raise awareness for women empowerment and gender equality. That apart, this year the event has an Osian’s IIFA Cinema Heritage Auction event.
The three-day gala will witness the presence of some of Hindi filmdom’s iconic stars and new actors on the red carpet, in the audience and on stage. Ranbir Kapoor, Shahid Kapoor, Arjun Kapoor, Kriti Sanon, Bobby Deol and Nushrat Bharucha are among those in the performers’ line-up, but Rekha’s stage act will clearly be a highlight at the awards night, hosted by Riteish Deshmukh and Karan Johar.
Talking about his performance, Bobby told IANS: “I am excited to be a part of it. For me, performing after seven years in IIFA is something that I am looking forward to. There will be a few of my hit songs from my earlier films… and ‘Race 3’ songs. That’s what I have kind of planned.”Arjun, who hosted the 16th edition of the event in Kuala Lumpur, is now looking forward to dancing at the main night on June 24, where veteran actor Anupam Kher will be feted with the Lifetime Achievement Award. “I’m excited about dancing at IIFA,” Arjun said.
A “nervous” Nushrat told IANS: “I am performing on all four songs of mine and all of them are from ‘Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety’. We start with performing on ‘Bom diggy’ then ‘Chhote chhote peg’, ‘Dil chori’ and then ‘Kaun Nachdi’. I am just really glad that I have a superhit album where the whole performance only needs my film songs and nothing else. I am very happy to be dancing to my own songs.”
Actor-singer Ayushmann Khurrana and actor Kartik Aaryan will be seen co-hosting IIFA Rocks, a musical night on June 22. “I will be hosting IIFA Rocks for the third time. I am also doing one crazy segment in the main awards… Apart from hosting, I will be doing their weekend stories and exploring the night life in Bangkok which will be adventurous for sure,” Ayushmann told IANS. Fashion designer-director Vikram Phadnis and Myntra will be joining forces to create an exclusive line for the gala, and will showcase his work at IIFA Rocks.”It will be a deep, dark all-black collection,” Phadnis said, adding that “fashion plays a very important role in the celebration of cinema”. For those who won’t be catching the action live, the event will be aired in India on the small screen via Colors a later day.