Pictures: IIFA blends East and West in Toronto

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This year, the 12th annual Indian Film Festival was held at Rogers Centre in Toronto. Toronto is the first city in North America to host the Indian Film Awards and it became a huge success with all tickets been sold out long before the event. The magical power of the Indian cinema removed all the barricades which separated the East and the West in Toronto. IIFA Weekend events had plenty of powerful tools to remove the barricades, such as music, dance, fashion, compassion and the most powerful tools, humanity and understanding.

Anil Kapoor, who hosted the ceremony at the very beginning, introduced the Premier of Ontario Dalton McGuinty as the brilliant and the biggest star of the night.

Anil praised and thanked the Premier on behalf of IIFA for all the support given to make the event a great success.

It was a remarkable and significant event in the history of IIFA to see the number of Hollywood stars walking on the green carpet. Two-time Academy Award winning, (Best actress in 2000 and 2005) Hilary Swank walked on the Green Carpet with Anil Kapoor and handed Shahrukh Khan the award for the best actor for his role in the film ‘My name is Khan.’

The glamorous Hollywood star looked stunning on the Green Carpet wearing a red embellished sleeveless and backless gown. On stage she greeted the audience with Namaste and said, “Holywood and Indian cinema must bring the world closer together. I believe in IFA’s mission – One people, one world.”

Cuba Gooding Jr. came on stage with actress and model Bipasha Basu to present the award for best director. Canadian actor Tom Green and Australian cricketer Brett Lee also graced the occasion.

Another memorable event in this year’s awards weekend was IIFA Rocks Extravaganza which took place at Ricoh Coliseum at CNE grounds on the eve of the awards show. At that event, late pop icon Michael Jackson’s elder brother Jermaine Jackson performed with popular Indian playback singer Sonu Nigam. The song was written by Sonu in the wake of Michael’s tragic death in 2009 and said he never dreamt he would be performing with Jermaine on the singer’s second death anniversary. In 2004, Sonu was awarded the National Film Award for Best Male Playback Singer for Ho Naa Ho. He has lent his voice for a number of movies in Punjabi, Bengali, Kannada, Hindi, Telugu, Tamil and Marathi Another memorable moment in IIFA is the presence of few stars of the yesteryear.

mendra with his two sons, Bobby and Sunny Deol, came on stage and performed with a dance group.

Dharmendra was given an award for being in the cinema for 50 long years. Hema Malini, well-known dancer and actress in the sixties and seventies, walked on the Green Carpet with her daughter Esha Deol. Sharmila Tagore was awarded for being in the cinema for 40 years. She remembered the beginning of her acting career in Sathyajith Rai’s movie Apur Sansar.

Beautiful and charming actress Sri Devi walked on the green carpet wearing a red, strapless fish-tailed gown with her young daughters and husband. Sri Devi who was known as Queen Bee of the Indian Cinema was very popular for acting and dancing in Bollywood for over two decades. She came on stage to give away the Award for Best Story to Shibani Bhatija for My name is Khan.

For me, the most unforgettable and memorable moment in IIFA is the presence of Asha Bosley and Priyanka Chopra, who earned the Miss World title in 2000, dancing for Bosley’s favourite numbers. Rogers Centre was rocking with loud sounds of modern music and dance. When Asha Bosley appeared on stage it was very quiet and soothing. She invited the audience to join to sing along with her very popular numbers.

Thousands of voices joined and echoed at the Rogers Centre. Once again I wiped my joyful tears remembering the past growing up from childhood to youth listening to the wonderful voice of Asha Bosley. Coming on stage two or three times changing her costumes for each song, Priyanka came on stage and said to Asha, “Thank you Asha ji for inspiring my generation and many more to come.”