Bollywood awards go to US to win new fans

This article is more than 12 months old

She had never watched an Indian film until she browsed home-order television service Netflix and took a chance on My Name Is Khan.

A few years later, Ms Teresita Alonso wore a T-shirt featuring the 2010 drama's lead actor, superstar Shah Rukh Khan, and eagerly sat on a lawn chair as Bollywood's premier awards ceremony put on a public show in the US city of Tampa, Florida.

"I can't understand the language, but I just love the colours, the culture and the stories," said Ms Alonso, who has since watched other Indian films.

The International Indian Film Academy Awards has arrived in the west coast city for its US edition, hoping to win over more fans like Ms Alonso as Bollywood looks to make inroads in the US market.

It is the first time in the event's 15-year history that the Indian film academy has gathered in the US.

Ahead of a star-studded awards ceremony tomorrow, Bollywood put on a free performance on Wednesday which attracted 1,000 spectators.

While around half of the crowd appeared to be South Asian, the rest of the audience included both curious onlookers and budding Bollywood connoisseurs, AFP reported.

Stands sold Indian dishes such as masala thosais and chole batura (chick peas with fried bread), while others sold American staples.

Drummer and DJ Ravi Jakhotia, who was raised in Tampa and performed a new song, Do Da Tampa, for Wednesday's party, said Latinos offered a natural constituency for Indian culture.


"Lots of things Indian and Latin aren't too far off. They also like spicy food and big extravagant events. After Indian weddings, nothing's more raging than a Latin wedding," said Mr Jakhotia, who performs under the name DJ Ravi Drums.

While the Tampa extravaganza charmed the non-South Asian audience, some suggested that Bollywood's appeal was mostly kitsch and unlikely to give Hollywood a run for its money in the world's largest box office.

"Bollywood is a great spectacle and great for its cheekiness.

"I enjoy it, but for many people, it may take a while," said Ms Connie Franks, a theatre performer.

I can't understand the language, but I just love the colours, the culture and the stories.

- Ms Teresita Alonso