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Yorkshire gives Big B a super-hero's welcome

By: Subhash K. Jha, IndiaFM
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
The Big B is just back from announcing this year's International Indian Film Academy (IIFA ) awards in the House Of Commons in Yorkshire.

Jet-lagged but all set to shoot for Sholay the next morning the Big B takes time off to talk about the Yorkshire experience. "The host country offered me a state honour. Yorkshire has five counties and mayors of each county , the sheriff and all the ministers were present at the presentation ceremony. They booked a special train for me to travel from London to Leeds . When I arrived at the station I was given a red-carpet welcome with the Mayor and his wife there to receive me while a brass band played."

Truly a hero's welcome.... "Not that. It just shows how much dignity is been conferred globally on the Indian film industry. The projection of the host country through IIFA is massive. We've about 400 million TV viewers across the world. Obviously it creates a worldwide importance. That importance needs to be realized. The kind of patronage IIFA is getting across the world speaks a lot for the growing impact of Indian films. The whole of Europe is immersed in Indian films. We need to be extremely proud of our impact. We're making solid representations of our cinema in foreign countries . In Yorkshire there were two hundred media persons from all over the world. I'm very happy to be a part of the movement. It's a time of great pride for us."

The Big B's gung-ho about the IIFA. "This is the seventh year of our existence. Rather than look at us as a vacuous glamour event , we need to see the influence of IFFA in full glory. There's a great amount of interest countries in every continent to host the IIFA. I know for a fact that this year Hong Kong and New York were bidding to host it. Yorkshire won it. People in India take these things lightly. But IIFA has become huge. It's a meeting of cultures, Governments are involved, promoters and sponsors of the highest integrity are involved. I just hope the Indian film industry realizes the importance of serving as ambassadors promoting our culture, cinema, aesthetics and other sensitivities."

But why the House Of Commons? "Why not?" Mr Bachchan shoots back "IIFA" is no longer just an awards ceremony. It's a collaboration of two governments leading to treatise of mutual co-operation in business and entertainment. Taking IIFA to a particular country boosts tourism in that country. In Yorkshire, the Minister Of State made a formal announcement about the IIFA."

He attributes the global impact of Hindi cinema to the quality of films being made. "Look" at the range of films coming up...Dhoom 2, Baabul, Guru...I went for the music event for Guru. Everything was so beautifully organized. It was a memorable occasion."

Tell him the Baabul soundtrack is memorable, and the Big B shoots back, Yes. But my track is not there. That's disappointing."

Of late the Big B has been in and out of the country. "It's okay," he whispers. "It's part and parcel of my job."

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