IIFA Diary: Notes from Colombo on Day 1
The first day of the 11th edition of the International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Weekend has been as chaotic as it has been revealing. From early morning chaos over accreditation and access to venues, by evening it had turned into excitement as the stars starting pouring in for the three-day event.
The centre of the chaos — the Cinnamon Grand hotel has become the ideal ringside location if you want to catch a glimpse of your favourite star and Bollywood crazy Sri Lankans weren’t letting go of any chance. By afternoon, the sprawling lobby of the five-star hotel was packed with eager fans, cameras ready to click and craning their necks to see if any star had arrived yet.
Even the slightest of familiar faces got a cheer from the crowd. However, the most popular star, at least according to an impromptu poll, is Shah Rukh Khan, who will not be making it to the event.
“He is so good-looking,” gushed a volunteer to me. “I wish he would have come.” The Bachchans seem to have been forgotten.
Even if one Khan is missing, there are others to make up for it. The other big Khan, Salman, is a prominent face at this year’s IIFA and it seems when you are a Bollywood star in Colombo, you get treatment meant for heads of states and VIPs.
On our way to a village where Salman was to participate in an initiative for Habitat for Humanity, we spotted a huge motorcade, complete with gun-toting commandos, three black-tinted cars and several police jeeps speeding through the streets of Colombo.
Traffic police cleared the way for the motorcade asking other vehicles to stop. We assumed it was the President who was passing by, but turns out it was Salman Khan. Being a star does have some very good perks.
Colombo has become a virtual spotting ground for celebrities you hardly see in Mumbai. “3 Idiots” comedian Omi Vaidya (aka Chatur) was spotted ambling in the lobby, accompanied by his wife and manager. He is here to host the curtain raiser for the television event and talked to Reuters about his plans post “3 Idiots”. Watch the video of the interview.