IIFA awards showcases Bollywood

Gala serves int'l marketing needs

NEW DELHI — Bollywood celebrities traveled to South Africa Thursday where the fourth annual Intl. India Film Academy (IIFA) awards are to be staged at the weekend.

Among those due at Saturday’s glitzy event in Johannesburg are Amitabh Bachchan, the Khan trio of Shah Rukh, Salman, Saif Ali, and numerous other actresses, producers and directors.

The IIFA 2003 awards market and showcase the Indian Hindi-language film industry abroad but are not as prestigious as the Filmfare awards, held annually inside the country.

They have also emerged as a key platform to fight movie piracy in foreign countries where Bollywood films are popular.

“Our films are playing crucial role as means of entertainment on foreign soil but most of these are pirated versions,” The Times of India quoted Bachchan as saying.

“The IIFA awards is a tool to professionally market our films. The phenomenal success of these functions … has confirmed that we are on the right track.”

Bachchan’s much-awaited hospital drama “Armaan” (Desire) will world preem at the event.

Launched in 1999, the awards have been held in Sun City, South Africa, London and Malaysia.

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