IIFA Diary: Notes from Colombo Day 2

June 4, 2010

When I left Mumbai for Colombo, I was going to cover a film awards function but two days into IIFA and I can hardly see any “film” in the event. Instead there is politics, business and even cricket, but films are missing from the scene entirely. Is that the way it is supposed to be?

Sri Lanka's President Mahinda Rajapaksa attends a business forum during the International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) awards in Colombo June 4, 2010. REUTERS/Rupak De ChowdhuriFilms were definitely not part of the agenda at the FICCI India Sri Lanka Business Forum on Friday morning, with the focus mainly on promoting bilateral business ties.

The presence of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and a host of other dignitaries meant the tone of the session was very serious. But besides a lot of rhetoric about exploring tourism potential and improving business relations, there wasn’t much done, so we moved on to the charity cricket match between celebrities and Sri Lankan cricketers.

The match itself wasn’t open to the media (one of many such events) but outside the venue, there was enough action to keep the cameras interested.

Even as the media waited for the stars (very few of them) to arrive for the match, a huge cheer went up from the watching crowd when there was no visible star around.

It turns out the cheer was for TV star Ronit Roy, who also runs a security company and is in charge of star security at IIFA.

Indian soaps, especially old Ekta Kapoor soaps are very popular in Sri Lanka and TV actors like Roy and Shweta Tiwari are well liked. I had several people asking me about Tiwari’s marital status and whether Ekta Kapoor was making any more TV series. Well, it seems “saas-bahu” stories aren’t an Indian phenomenon alone.

Bollywood actors Aftab Shivdasani (R) and Sohail Khan play during the International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) foundation celebrity cricket match in Colombo June 4, 2010. REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte

Of course the main event of the day was the cricket match between the celebrities and Sri Lankan cricketers, to raise money for an initiative that will build a hundred homes for the war-affected in Jaffna region.

If there were any doubts about who would win the match, the Sri Lankan cricketers hit those out of the stadium, beating both IIFA teams, led by Hrithik Roshan and Suneil Shetty comfortably.

For the fans, it was the thrill of watching their favourite cricketers pitted against their favourite stars and cheering for them with even more of their favourite stars.

The huge cheers and celebrations emanating from the SSC were enough proof of that.

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