Friday, December 11, 2009

Toast of Bollywood

Could Hollywood North also be Bollywood West?

Toronto will be the first North American city to host the "Bollywood Oscars."

With that may come opportunities for Toronto to see the production of more Indian films here, said the vice-chairman of the Canada-India Business Council.

Peter Sutherland, a former ambassador who advises Indian and Canadian businesses about expanding their operations in the two countries, said the awards show will mean more than just the glitz and glamour of the event.

"I think there may be some business opportunities involved in film production itself," Sutherland said. "As you know, in Toronto in particular, in Canada in general, there's a burgeoning film industry. A lot of American films come here to produce.

"That could conceivably happen with Bollywood as well," Sutherland said.

Premier Dalton McGuinty was in Mumbai yesterday for the announcement that Toronto would host the International Indian Film Academy Awards from June 16-19, 2011.

"It brings with it a viewing audience in excess of 350 million, to say nothing of 60,000 tourists who are drawn to this, and the 500 or so stars and producers and the like," McGuinty said.

IIAF director Viraf Sarkari said Toronto made sense to host the Indian film event because of previous experiences here with Bollywood stars.

Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan was in Toronto in July 2008 as part of The Unforgettable Tour, a huge stage show featuring music from Indian movies that was seen by over a million people around the world in six weeks.

In an effort to promote Indian films around the world, the awards show is held in a different city outside of India each year. The inaugural 2000 show was in London and other host cities included Bangkok, Amsterdam, Dubai and Singapore.

"I think it's a great thing for Toronto," Sutherland said.

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