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Bollywood stars kick off IIFA weekend in Macau

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Associated Press

Last Updated: June 11, 2009, 23:11 IST

Bollywood stars kick off IIFA weekend in Macau

3-day program ends on Saturday night with the annual IIFA Awards

Macau: Bollywood's top stars gathered in the Chinese gambling enclave of Macau on Thursday for the Indian film industry's annual roadshow, pitching their elaborate song-and-dance productions to the booming Chinese market and other Asian countries.

One of the industry's biggest names, Amitabh Bachchan, kicked off the 10th International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) weekend by planting a lotus flower, the official flower of both India and Macau.

Bachchan, the 66-year-old veteran actor said he welcomed the attention brought to India by the Oscar-winning British movie Slumdog Millionaire, the story of an orphan from Mumbai's slums who wins the Indian version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, but argued that Bollywood can tell its own stories with equal flair.

"I've always believed that Indian talent and Indian creativity is in no way less than creativity from any other part of the world," he said. "There are many, many other stories and ideas and concepts that need to be explored, that need to be known."

One of the stars of Slumdog Millionaire agreed.

"They're more dramatic. They express themselves with more color than the Hollywood films do. While Hollywood goes for the subtle tone, India goes more for the expressions and outright power," Ashutosh Lobo Gajiwala, who plays Salim in Slumdog, told reporters on the sidelines of a red carpet ceremony late on Thursday.

Overseas revenues are growing for the $2.3 billion Indian film industry, and Bollywood executives want to broaden the appeal. Foreign box office revenues have jumped from 5 per cent of total revenue in 2005 to nearly 10 per cent in 2008, according to the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).

Bollywood's biggest foreign markets are the United States and Britain, which have large ethnic Indian communities. Roadshow organisers now want to attract viewers from China and other parts of east Asia.

Indian and Chinese filmmakers are scheduled to discuss on Friday how they can collaborate.

Bollywood's top names will appear throughout the weekend at the Venetian Macau casino-hotel resort complex, a popular destination for mainland Chinese gamblers.

Dozens of them showed up late on Thursday for a ceremony honoring Bachchan, including another Slumdog star, actor Anil Kapoor, and former Miss Universe Sushmita Sen, drawing shrieks and camera flashes from the dozens of mostly Indian fans who pressed against barricades lining the red carpet.

But the biggest cheers were reserved for Amitabh Bachchan himself, son Abhishek Bachchan and daughter-in-law, former Miss World Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, who as we know are all Bollywood megastars in their own right. The trio posed with a wax statue of the elder Bachchan shipped from a Madame Tussauds museum in neighboring Hong Kong.

Later in the weekend, heartthrob Hrithik Roshan will model for Indian designers at a fashion show on Friday night. The three-day program ends on Saturday night with the annual IIFA Awards, where the Bachchans and fellow stars Aamir Khan, Shah Rukh Khan, Priyanka Chopra, Katrina Kaif and others will compete for top acting honors.

The Indian film academy has held previous overseas events in London, Yorkshire, Dubai, Johannesburg, Amsterdam, Singapore and Bangkok.

first published:June 11, 2009, 23:11 IST
last updated:June 11, 2009, 23:11 IST
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