Among those visionaries is prolific producer/director Karan Johar, who was at the TOIFA launch in Vancouver, and said he would scout locations for a film project when he’s back for the awards in April. (The deal includes a guarantee that one Indian production will shoot in B.C.)
A few other Bollywood A-listers have also committed to the event, including superstar Shah Rukh Khan (a.k.a. “King Khan”), Barfi! star Ranbir Kapoor, and Katrina Kaif, whom Sharma calls the “box-office queen.” Organizers promise there will be more.
But Sharma says April is a busy time for Bollywood productions, and it may be difficult for actors to leave their sets to fly all the way to Vancouver. Another concern Sharma raises about holding the event in early April: It’s just over two months away. That leaves a very tight schedule to produce an event so huge organizers say they will bring some 600 people here to work on it.
B.C. is contributing $9.5-million toward producing the event, and $1.5-million for related activities, including a B.C.-India Global Business Forum. With the immediate economic benefit of the awards estimated to be between $13-million and $18-million according to a government press release, Clark clearly has rupee signs in her eyes.
“We’re investing $12-million dollars in what we hope will be a long, durable and very profitable trade relationship for British Columbia,” she told reporters. (Clark used the $12-million figure, but her office says $11-million.)
What’s in it for the Times of India – India’s largest media conglomerate, whose properties include print and broadcast media as well as events such as the Femina Miss India beauty pageant? “We establish a global IP,” said Soni. “Intellectual property for us.”
Sharma predicts great interest in the event, as the IIFAs in Toronto saw two years ago, when people partied in the streets and Bollywood culture was embraced by the mainstream – from fashion magazines to department-store windows. Sharma says he knows many people who flew to Toronto, paying up to $1,000 for a ticket to attend the event. “People were talking absolutely day and night about this,” he says.
Call the TOIFAs what you will – upstart, copycat, political pandering – they are generating that same kind of buzz in the South-Asian community. “Just to give you an idea,” says Sharma, “my phones have been ringing non-stop since these awards have been announced.”
What else the TOIFAs will generate – tourism? trade? votes? – may or may not go according to script, may or may not produce one of those predictable, happy Bollywood endings for the people so driven to bring them here. But it sure makes for one heck of a plot.