The fifth International Indian Film Academy Weekend, which will be capped by the IIFA Award ceremony, kicked off today in the Lion City, Singapore.
IIFA brand ambassador Amitabh Bachchan flew into the city with his wife Jaya. He announced the details of the weekend which includes the world premiere of Indian films and a celebrity football tournament.
Mani Ratnam's Tamil drama Aayitha Ezhuthu is scheduled to premiere along with its Hindi version Yuva at the weekend.
Other films like Musafir, Dil Maange More, Rakht, Lakshya, Tango Charlie and Sarhad Paar will also be showcased during the weekend.
The IIFA Forum, to be addressed by Singapore Arts and Information Minister Lee Boon Yang, will discuss globalisation of Indian cinema. Filmmakers like Shekhar Kapur, Karan Johar and exhibitor Shravan Shroff are expected to be part of the discussion, says Sabbas Joseph, director of Wizcraft International Entertainment.
The weekend will conclude with the IIFA Awards ceremony. Bollywood stars Shah Rukh Khan, Saif Ali Khan, Vivek Oberoi, Preity Zinta, Ishaa Koppikar and Shahid Kapoor are slated to perform on stage.
Sony Entertainment Television will broadcast the awards function across the globe, along with Doordarshan and Media Corp TV in Singapore.
The annual IIFA Weekend was launched in 2000 at The Millennium Dome at UK. It was later held in Sun City, South Africa (2001), Genting Highlands, Malaysia (2002) and Johannesburg, South Africa (2003).
Singapore Tourism Board Deputy Chairman and Chief Executive Lim Neo Chian says, "Today marks the beginning of a glamorous and glitzy weekend extravaganza, where our friends of the Indian community will be treated to a myriad of enriching and unique experience that Singapore has to offer."
"Likewise, fans of the Indian film community in Singapore and around the world will be treated to an unforgettable
weekend with the stars as they spot their favourite celebrities at red carpet events, post-awards parties or just enjoying the many unique sights and attractions across the Lion City," he adds.
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Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and National Parks Board -- which come under the Government of Singapore -- have named a hybriad orchid after Amitabh Bachchan. The flower will be called Dendrobium Amitabh Bachchan.
"Bachchan's name has been given to the flower as a mark of respect to the actor and as a sign of friendship between
the film industries of both the countries. And to commemorate hosting of the IIFA Weekend by the country," says STB Chief Executive Officer and Deputy Chairman, Lim Neo Chian.
The flower, which falls under the Debdrobium family, is being displayed at the Singapore Botanical Garden in the Lion
A variety of orchid, known as Vanda Miss Joaquim, is the national flower of Singapore. The Singapore Government had earlier named flowers after Shah Rukh Khan, Queen Elizabeth and Princess Diana.
Lim also presented a semi-precious stone-studded jacket to Bachchan and a shawl to his significant other, designed by famous designer Lai Chin.
During his speech, Big B says he "swallowed" his chewing gum. Reason? He was afraid of the chewing gum disposal and spitting rules in the country.
The actor was all praise for Australian cricketer Brett Lee, who had come to take part in the celebrity football match, and requested the pace bowler to be a "little considerate" while bowling to Indian batsmen.
Photograph: Roslan Rahman/AFP/Getty Images