Tampa Bay Mayor Bob Buckhorn dances with Anil Kapoor, dance contest winners and Hillsborough County Commissioner Al Higginbotham. (Pictures by Mahesh Abeyewardene)
Fifteenth annual Indian International Film Academy (IIFA) Awards were held for the first time in the US and Tampa Bay was selected as the host city. The event took place from April 23-26 making it a memorable, historical and unforgettable IIFA for Tampa Bay in Florida.
Beginning from Indian stars’ arrival at the Tampa Bay airport to musical parties, fashion shows took place in its unique style with crowd attending dressed in colourful clothing. Especially on Thursday night IIFA Rocks party created a colorful Indian atmosphere at the Tampa Convention Centre downtown. On Friday, thousands attended the IIFA Magic of Movies, technical awards show at Mid Florida Amphitheatre near the county fairgrounds. On Saturday, the final and grand award celebration held in Raymond James Stadium was filled with over 20,000 spectators who mainly arrived from different states around the US in addition to other countries. They all showed the love and the enthusiasm for Indian cinema which completed its 100th year.
Actress Sonakashi Sinha arrives for the press conference.
The main press conference held at the Hilton Downtown ballroom filled with local and international media which was led by Anil Kapoor who became an international star for his role in the Oscar award-winning film Slumdog Millionaire. Florida Governor Rick Scott, Tampa Bay Mayor Bob Buckhorn, Hillsborough County Commissioner Al Higginbotham addressed media, along with IIFA officials, and major sponsors of the event.
At one point Tampa Mayor Buckhorn, said, “We can dance with the best of them – except for me”. Anil Kapoor pulled Buckhorn on stage and joined dance competition winners and danced to the tune of “Do Da Tampa” the IIFA theme song composed by Indo-American Tampa native, D.J Ravidrums.
“This weekend IIFA will rock Tampa and Tampa will rock IIFA,” the Mayor said.
Fans wait for stars to arrive Raymond James Stadium, they climbed on trees and signs to sneak a peak of their heroes.
Most beautiful and stunning Sonakshi Sinha came on stage and addressed the press conference.
“My first IIFA experience was in 2010 in Colombo, Sri Lanka. I was taken up with the even and the most welcoming and loving audience. Since then I followed IIFA where ever it went whether I get an award or not. I’m not going to talk long because Anil said I can’t talk more than him,” she said.
Winners of the IIFA for Outstanding Contribution by An Indian in the US, Drs. Kiran & Pallavi Patel with their daughter. Dr. Pallavi Patel urged more needs to be done for the underprivileged, announced an IIFA initiative to conduct 200 cataract surgeries in Jamaica.
Tampa Bay has many spectacular bridges and causeways connecting it to surrounding areas of Clearwater and St. Petersburg. IIFA 2014 has built an everlasting bridge to India by having its 15th and first ever US IIFA in Tampa Bay.
We were residing in a small town in Clearwater region which connects to Tampa Bay from 9 mile long causeway over the peaceful waters of the bay. Before coming to the bridge we drove on a scenic road and passed houses with beautiful well kept gardens with tropical foliage and trees full of flowers. Once I thought in a dream I have gone back to my childhood home.
Florida Governor Rick Scott arrives for the press conference
Then I remembered the Mayor of Tampa saying, “Feel like you’re at home. Make it your second home.”
On Saturday night sun was setting majestically over Tampa Bay leaving the dusk to settle in for the final great event which took place at Raymond James Stadium.
IIFA Award winners 2014
Best Entertainer of the Year: Deepika Padukone. Best Picture Award: Bhaag Milka Bhaag. Best Debutant Award: Dhanush for Raanjhanaa. Best Performance in a Leading role (Male) Award: Farhan Akhtar for Bhaag Milka Bhaag. Best Performance in a Leading Role (Female) Award: Deepika Padukone for Chennai Express. Best Direction Award: Rakeysh Om Mehra for Bhaag Milkha Bhaag. Best Performance in a Supporting role (Male) Award: Aditya Roy Kapoor for Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani. Best Performance in a Supporting role (Female) Award: Divya Dutta for Bhaag Milkha Bhaag. Best Performance in a Comic Role Award: Arshad Warsi for Jolly LLB. Best Performance in a Negative role Award: Rishi Kapoor for D Day. Best Story Award: Prashoon Joshi for Bhaag Milkha Bhaag. Best Lyrics Writer: Mithoon for ‘Tum Hi Ho’ from Aashiqui 2. Best Male Playback Singer Award: Arijit Singh for ‘Tum Hi Ho’ from Aashiqui 2. Best Female Playback Singer Award: Shreya Goshal for ‘Sun Raha Hai Na Tu’ from Aashiqui 2. Music Direction: Mithoon, Ankit Tiwari, Jeet Ganguly (Aashiqui 2). Outstanding Contribution to India Cinema: Shatrughan Sinha.