Bollywood’s biggest award night, the International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) awards ceremony, widely known as the Indian equivalent of the Oscars, could possibly be hosted by Hawaii next year, which has a growing interest in the Indian film industry, indicated US Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard during her visit to India.
Gabbard, who met the IIFA officials, said they talked in great detail about some of the things that the awards committee is looking for to make it possible for Hawaii to host an upcoming edition of the ceremony that has becoming a pulling force for the non-resident Indian community abroad with tickets being sold months in advance and Bollywood’s top stars in full attendance.
"Hawaii has been a hub for major feature films as well as major television shows and continues to create a climate that is friendly towards people who want to bring productions there," Gabbard said in Delhi earlier this month.
"Whether it’s Indian filmmakers coming to Hawaii or Indian film makers… (hiring) people from Hawaii for projects here in India, I think there is great interest and opportunity. Bollywood of course has become something that’s very big and popular even outside of India,” said Gabbard, the first Hindu member of Congress and also the youngest at 33.
Gabbard said she herself did not have the time to catch up on movies but she’s heard of Farah Khan and Aamir Khan.
Interaction with the film industry was part of her India visit plan to explore opportunities for filmmakers who want to shoot in Hawaii.
“We’ve got the details from IIFA on the different elements that they look for and they are looking to host in our city. We are taking that back to our Hawaii government, our city, our chamber of commerce and seeing, you know, how this can be a mutually beneficial opportunity,” she said.
The planning and execution takes months so Hawaii is out of the race for this year’s IIFA. Hawaii, whose economy is dependent on the hospitality industry, has the necessary infrastructure to host the awards, Gabbard said.
According to this report, New York, London, Barcelona, and Abu Dhabi are some of the cities that were being considered for the 2015 IIFA awards ceremony.
“Where the IIFA will happen in 2015 is to be confirmed in the next few months. But some of the contending destinations are Barcelona, New York, London and Abu Dhabi,” Andre Timmins, Director, IIFA and Wizcraft, told PTI.
The awards, which were instituted in 2000, completed 15 years in 2014. The ceremony, normally held in the month of April, was last hosted by Tampa Bay in Florida. In the last 15 years, it has travelled to Africa, Europe, Asia and North America.
Over 18,000 tickets across several categories were sold out for the Tampa Bay IIFA Awards last year.
“Hawaii is placed in the middle of the Pacific so you are not just talking about people in Hawaii being interested, but we are talking about people from Hong Kong and from Singapore and from other parts of Asia who would be very attracted not only to the event itself but also an event like that being hosted in a beautiful paradise like Hawaii.
“I know IIFA’s signature is the green carpet and focus on renewable and sustainable forms of green energy is an area where Hawaii is very aggressively focusing now as an island state,” she said.
Gabbard is optimistic that filmmakers from Bollywood, the world’s largest industry by ticket sales, will find it easier in the coming years to shoot in Hawaii.
"There are many films from across Asia that are now being shot in Hawaii, we’ve got a film commissioner (Donne Dawson) in the state of Hawaii who is very good at her job and she is very interested in attracting more businesses to come to Hawaii and not just the big companies but looking at really assisting and helping small and medium sized projects and making sure that the permitting process is easy,” said Gabbard.
Hollywood films such as Jurassic Park, Fifty First Dates and Pirates of the Caribbean have been shot in Hawaii. Jurassic World, an upcoming 3D science fiction film starring Indian actor Irrfan Khan is also being shot there.
Gabbard said bringing the IIFA to Hawaii is a first step and can be a great bridge between the two countries. Gabbard met Prime Minister Narendra Modi during her visit to India.