It was an unforgettable experience to be at IFFA New York

By Manju Mittal

It is a pity that Australia has not yet been able to host IFFA ”“ the so called ”˜Oscars of Bollywood Cinema’ Awards. IFFA is celebrated by Bollywood every year in host cities around the world and is watched by over 800 million Bollywood buffs, not just the Indians in India, but NRIs settled in various countries as well as people around the world who are equally mad about Indian movies. I hear that Victorian government here has been on the hunt to bring IFFA to Melbourne all we need is a big contender to rope in and host an event which is truly extravagant, full of entertainment by the best of Bollywood stars, singers and dancers. Not to mention fashion as Karan Wahi hosted the green carpet event this year which centred its attention to environmental issues having switched from the well-known red carpet as Bollywood stars walked in their gorgeous gowns as crowds cheered and cameras clicked all around.

For the time being I had to contend with to attending IFFA in New York soon as I came to know that it is being held there where few of my extended family also live, I took the first plane in July to attend and be part of the show I can say is when the stars descend down to earth for us all to witness a show that is only seen to be believed.

First time in eighteen years Bollywood’s biggest festival IIFA 2017 romanced with the city that never sleeps – New York from July 13 to 15, a three-day festival. On 13th July first day of IIFA, my initial goal was to get in to Sheraton Hotel New York from New Jersey before midday but being first day in New Jersey I needed to figure out the train timings, the place and I realised that I succeed at that goal when I finally got down at the 53rd street Sheraton Times Square hotel on time. I picked up my badge from media room, collected press guide and headed towards Press Conference room.

The International Indian Film Academy’s IIFA Awards ceremony began with an official press conference. The conference was attended by leading notable figures and media, Bollywood superstar Salman Khan was joined by two leading actresses Katrina Kaif, Alia Bhatt, Shahid Kapoor, Varun Dhawan, Sushant Singh Rajput, Kirti Sanon and Anupam Kher among others as they welcomed the biggest IIFA ever in New York.  Followed by the press conference was IIFA Stomp which saw energetic performance of Bollywood star Varun Dhawan. After enthralling audience at IIFA Stomp with his dancing talent, Varun paid tribute to his father, who has completed 30 years of his journey in the Bollywood.

IIFA Stomp also put up a glamorous fashion show right in the heart of the city with stars Shilpa Shetty, Taapsee Pannu, Dia Mirza, Neha Dhupia and Huma Qureshi who walked by in their dazzling ethnic dresses. Indian TV and Radio host Siddharth Kannan hosted the press conference and IIFA Stomp.

Well it was a 3-day non-stop show as IIFA Rocks celebrated 25 years of the musical genius A R Rahman with a mesmerising 90 minute performance alongside a first time medley by Hariharan, Kailash Kher, Mika Singh, Mohit Chauhan, Javed Ali and many others at Metlife Stadium on Friday July 14.   While talking to the media, Oscar winning composer AR Rahman said, “It was kind of IIFA to invite me and celebrate my 25 years in the Industry. I loved performing at the IIFA Rocks concert as my fans supported even though it was raining”. IIFA Rocks also felicitated the winners for their excellence in the technical field. ”˜Ae dil hai mushkil’ lead the winners list by walking away with four awards in the technical category. IIFA Rocks was hosted by Ritesh Deshmukh and Manish Paul.

It was amazing to see thousands of delighted fans, dressed to the nines in the evening gowns, saris, cocktail dresses with delight as the awards got underway at the Metlife Stadium in East-Rutherford, New Jersey, a short drive from New York City. IIFA is not just a platform for the stars to accept awards for their work in cinema but also showcase their exquisite taste in fashion as well.

IIFA Awards 2017 kicked off in New York on Saturday July 15, Bollywood actors, singers and several other celebrities flocked to the ”˜green carpet’ of one of the Industry’s biggest awards night. IHosted by Bollywood actor Saif Ali Khan and Producer-director Karan Johar, Bollywood’s bombshell Katrina Kaif, the birthday girl, who is an amazing dancer nailed every minute on the stage with her sexy moves on her hit numbers. We witnessed a power packed performances by Alia Bhatt, Varun Dhawan, Sushant Singh Rajput, Kirti Sanon among others. Highlight of the night was Salman Khan, he lit up the stage with his performance past midnight at 3 am, when he sang live on stage and gave an incredible performance.

Finally the awards were announced at IIFA, Best film was ”˜Neerja’, Best male actor Shahid Kapoor for ”˜Udta Punjab’, Best female actor Alia Bhatt for ”˜Udta Punjab’, Best female play back singer- Kanika Kapoor for ”˜Udta Punjab’ and Tulsi Kumar for ”˜Airlift’. Myntra Style Icon Award went to Alia Bhatt, Best Lyrics – Amitabh Bhattacharya for ”˜Channa Meereya’ in Ae dil hai mushkil, Best music direction – Pritam for ”˜Ae dil hai mushkil’, IIFA woman of the year – Taapsee Pannu, Best performance in a negative role – Jim Sarbh for ”˜Neerja’, Best Debutant  Male – Daljit Dosanjh for ”˜Udta Punjab’, Best performance in a comic role-Varun Dhawan for ”˜Dishoom’, Best performance in a supporting role male – Anupam Kher for ”˜MS Dhoni The Untold Story’, Best supporting female ”“ Shabhana Azmi for ”˜Neerja’ and 25 Years of Musical Contribution went to ”˜AR Rahman’.

Like all good things come to an end, so did the three-day extravaganza, the trip was not just inspiring but I also met some talented and amazingly passionate journalists during my 8 days stay in New York. I had been looked after well by IIFA which was like a dream; an opportunity it gave me to be near and experience glamour of Bollywood personalities congregated in one place. IIFA in New York was an unforgettable and a sleepless experience, I sincerely hope that Melbourne or our Sydney gets to host IFFA in one of these coming years.

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