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'We have invaded Tampa'

April 25, 2014 17:54 IST

'We have invaded Tampa'

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Arthur J Pais in Florida

'...And it is a total invasion!'

Priyanka Chopra, Anil Kapoor, Sonakshi Sinha and most of Bollywood catch up with Florida. Arthur J Pais reports.

Bollywood rocks Tampa’, screamed the page one headline in a TampaBay newspaper.

Seeing 10,000 people, at least half of them non-Indians, dance and swing to the remixed Bollywood pop songs on Wednesday evening at the riverside park in Tampa, Florida, proved that the headline was anything but hype.

Whether any of the frenzied non-Indian partygoers at the park would ever see the new hit, 2 States, or any other typical Bollywood film, is debatable, but there was no doubt that the first awards event in America in IIFA's 15-year history got off to a solid start on Wednesday.

'In the middle of the afternoon, in the middle of another sleepy Tampa week, an imported world dropped into the centre of our town,’ wrote a local newsweekly, describing the preparations for the dance party at the waterfront park. 

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Image: Anil Kapoor dances at the IIFA function
Photographs: Paresh Gandhi/Rediff.com

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Stephen Baldwin, Rahet Fateh Ali Khan, Sonakshi Sinha, Priyanka Chopra, Anil Kapoor

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Tampa might have hosted several Super Bowls and a Republic Party National Convention to nominate its presidential candidate, but the Bollywood festivities brought unparalleled frenzy and excitement.

"Our city is going to be seen by one billion viewers worldwide?" asked a city official. "It is incredible."

The promoters of the awards, the International Indian Film Awards, have declared that over one billion people will watch the telecast worldwide.   

There was wide mainstream press coverage of the giddy scene at the airport when the Bollywood stars arrived. Sonakshi Sinha, Priyanka Chopra, Shabana Azmi, Ritesh Deshmukh, Anil Kapoor, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Kareena Kapoor and Saif Ali Khan were mobbed by teenagers, some clearly hoping to find a role in a Bollywood film. 


Image: Hollywood actor Stephen Baldwin, Rahet Fateh Ali Khan, Sonakshi Sinha, Priyanka Chopra, Anil Kapoor dance
Photographs: Paresh Gandhi/Rediff.com

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Anil Kapoor

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Some groupies said they were at the airport for more than six hours to get to shake hands with Hrithik Roshan and Parineeti Chopra.

"We have invaded Tampa," declared Priyanka Chopra, "and it is a total invasion."

Bollywood celebrities that included Anil Kapoor, who was one of the most mobbed of the artists at the three day event, said they were overwhelmed by the excitement and media attention. 


Image: Anil Kapoor greet the people of Florida
Photographs: Paresh Gandhi/Rediff.com

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Siddharth Kanan, Resul Pookutty, Anupam Kher

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Actor Anupam Kher, who premiered his 29-minute directorial effort I Went Shopping for Robert De Niro declared that he could not have asked for a better premiere.

A number of Bollywood celebrities including the scriptwriter Javed Akhtar and his wife Shabana Azmi, Anil Kapoor and Nawazuddin Siddique saw the film in the ornate Tampa Theatre and gave it a rousing welcome.

Kher, who said he bought gifts in Mumbai for his co-artists in the Hollywood film Silver Linings Playbook, Jennifer Lawrence and Brad Cooper among them, was particularly keen on giving a gift to his all-time favourite, De Niro.

 


Image: Siddharth Kanan, Resul Pookutty and Anupam Kher
Photographs: Paresh Gandhi/Rediff.com

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Ritesh Deshmukh, Javed Akhtar, David Dhawan

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Kher's acting class student Shivangi Kshirsagar, who actually went shopping to buy the gift, crafted a script full of misadventures and high drama. She also acts in the film along with Kher.

She said in Tampa that the film, which is a tribute to De Niro and mimics some of his great scenes in the film Taxi Driver, was meant to be "feminine and wild" and it was also brazen like some of De Niro's roles and films. And she did not hesitate to use the F word profusely.

The Stomp Bollywood event at the WaterfrontPark will not be forgotten for a long time, many Tampa residents said. The festival featured Bollywood music and dancing and resounded to IIFA’s official song, Do Da Tampa.

The lively song is a collaboration between D J Ravidrums, known to some local Tampa Chamberlain High graduates as Rari Jakhotia, and Bay area musician Gumbi Ortiz.

 


Image: Ritesh Deshmukh, Javed Akhtar, David Dhawan and his wife Karuna at Anupam Kher's workshop
Photographs: Paresh Gandhi/Rediff.com

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Nawazuddin Siddique

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Anil Kapoor, who spent nearly 30 minutes at the stomp, received football stadium kind of cheers.

“Clearly they weren’t here to see me, sad as I am to admit it. My days have come and gone,” said Tampa Mayor, Bob Buckhorn, who greeted the Slumdog Millionaire star and chatted with him. “But for someone who is an A-list movie star, he is very down to earth and a wonderful, wonderful guy.”

“It’s a huge opportunity to once again tell Tampa’s story to the entire world," said Buckhorn. “More than 800 million people will watch this event.”

 


Image: Nawazuddin Siddiqui
Photographs: Paresh Gandhi/Rediff.com

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