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iifa awards

Let the floodgates open!

Indian stars have started flying in en masse for the highly anticipated "Bollywood Oscars."

Anil Kapoor, star of the Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire, arrived Tuesday evening looking dapper in a black jacket, blue jeans and dark shades. Mr. Kapoor was last in Toronto in January to promote this weekend's Indian International Film Academy awards, which are being hosted in a North American city for the first time in their 12-year history.

"This is a show that has spread a lot of happiness, colour and a lot of fun," he said Tuesday night. "I'm very excited."

Also arriving was Bollywood action star and comedian Bobby Deol, who will be performing at Saturday's awards ceremony along with his father, the veteran actor Dharmendra, and brother and fellow actor, Sunny Deol.

"I'm more excited this time [for IIFA]because I'm performing - actually I'm more nervous," he said.

The celebrities signed autographs, posed for cameras on the green carpet and waved to some 100 screaming fans. Bushra Milki, 21, of Brampton, Ont., shrieked loudly for Mr. Deol and she was rewarded when the star allowed her to touch his face with both her hands.

"Oh my god, that was awesome - I love you Bobby," she yelled to the star, who was being whisked away by his security. "It's the first time IIFA is coming to Toronto, and who knows if they will come again. I plan to be here every day and watch the stars come."

Ms. Milki is also one of the lucky Bollywood fans who scored a ticket to the awards show on June 25. Some 16,000 tickets sold out in about five minutes.

Other actors, such as Anupam Kher of Bend it like Beckham fame, Arshad Warsi, Dia Mirza and Zayed Khan arrived earlier Tuesday. More A-list Bollywood celebrities are expected to fly in to Pearson regularly over the next two days.

"This is just the beginning," said one airport security guard. "It's going to be mayhem - just you wait."

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