SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Recognizing the fanaticism for Bollywood, Hollywood and South Indian cinema-based entertainment in India and around the globe, India-based Cineyug and Brainstorm Entertainment have joined forces to bring to the audiences the first Indian Academy Awards.
The awards, which will be hosted by none other than Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan, will be a two-day extravaganza of live performances featuring top stars from Bollywood, South Indian cinema and Hollywood, which will be choreographed by contemporary dance guru Shiamak Davar along with music and fashion shows.
Watch all the glamor and action unfold in the Silicon Valley July 7-8 at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif., where at least two powerful Bollywood performances – headlined by Shah Rukh Khan and Madhuri Dixit Nene – are sure to delight the starry-eyed fans.
With an aim to take Indian film industry closer to its global dream, at a press conference held Jan. 27 at the Hyatt Regency in Santa Clara, Calif., the organizers announced the unique selling proposition of these awards along with unveiling the flashy ‘Golden Knight’ trophy.
“We wanted to create a platform for Indian cinema and world cinema,” said Vandana Krishna, co-founder of Brainstorm Entertainment. “The whole idea came when we were looking at cinema and how it was going global; we figured out that the Indian film industry is going global today. Therefore, the awards are a celebration, a dedication to this democratic academy. These awards are for the people, by the people and of the people.”
Announcing an open voting system, Krishna stressed that the voting process would be a “transparent, honest and an absolutely credible” one. “We will be doing a global voting to engage viewers across the world who are cinema lovers to vote and choose their favorite stars,” she said.
Krishna emphasized that with their heady mix of Indian and foreign entertainment and a democratic voting process, these awards will redefine the entertainment world.
Global audiences will be a part of the jury, she said, inviting the fans to register and participate on www.indianacademyaward.com, where very soon they will be able to vote for their favorite films and stars in over 17 categories. A credible certifying agency will be auditing the entire process.
The IAA expects to host close to 60,000 people at the Oakland Coliseum for the principal awards show. “We are expecting a full house,” Krishna told India-West. “We are going to conduct fashion shows with singers performing simultaneously. We are planning to bring in 6-7 singers on one platform so the kind of adrenaline people will experience in one evening will be tremendous.”
Krishna further elaborated that the organizers are planning to bring in a lot of talent from India in terms of fashion designers, especially focusing on contemporary wear. “The stuff that people here will love to wear,” she stated. “The idea is to also create glamor and business opportunities for those designers and for people to buy those clothes. It’s not only about showcasing; it’s also about converting it into business.”
Though the line-up has not yet been revealed, Krishna shared that there will be five-six dance performances. “You can expect the Bollywood A-listers to perform,” she added.
Krishna also mentioned that as part of Brainstorm Entertainment, she and co-founder Saurabh Pandey primarily do not organize events.
“We only create intellectual properties and the IAA is our brainchild property,” Krishna told India-West. “Cineyug is executing the event in terms of scripting, directing, production, etc.” She added that in the past, the duo has worked in the Bay Area on a kids event called the ‘International Kids Festival.’
Managing a project as high-profile as this wouldn’t have been possible without the support of U.S. sponsors, Krishna said. “We have our U.S. business partners and investors like Ayush and Silkey Jain, Dr. Vijay Tiwari, Ritu Panesar,” she said.
Not revealing the budget or the funds that they’ve raised so far to pull off an event of this magnitude, Krishna simply said: “It is a humongous project but we are in a good position.”
Explaining the rationale behind zeroing in on Silicon Valley as their preferred destination for the debut show, Krishna told the audience: “This is the city of technology and innovation and is dominated by a lot of Indian-origin people who are constantly changing the world.”
“Where else to do it than here in the Silicon Valley where Indians have put India on the global map?” asked Madhuri Dixit Nene. “They have created so many disruptive things that have changed the way things work in the world and the way society and everything else is perceived. I’m so glad that we’re doing it here.”
The “Dhak Dhak” girl, who showed off some moves at the event, said “she would love to perform here.”
These awards, Krishna explained, are not just a yearly fare and seek to engage movie lovers throughout the year. People who get enrolled in the Academy, and become jury members in the process, will also be involved in discussions, reviews, and opinions surrounding films on the Web site.
In the run-up to the award ceremony, two high-profile events – one honoring Indian American women and the other a business conclave – will be organized.
The weekend of March 8, which is celebrated as Women’s Day, will see 15 Indian American women pioneers celebrated, the nominations for which will be announced soon. “It could be anybody from politics, fashion, business, medical, any and every field is open. Superwomen who have made America proud,” said Krishna.
The women’s day event will be followed by a business conclave in May, which will provide information to investors in the U.S. on the investment opportunities in India.
The event also saw the presence of dignitaries from the state, including Consul General of India in San Francisco Venkatesan Ashok and Indian American councilman in Saratoga, Calif., Rishi Kumar.
“I represent India so my role is to see how India’s soft power capabilities can be best put forward,” Ashok told India-West, adding that “he was excited at the possibility of the two largest democracies in the world joining hands in a democratic voting system for the movie awards.”
Askok also added that the events preceding the awards will give a “tremendous visibility to the kinds of things we want to do.”
“We are anyway doing business conclaves almost every two months, dealing with Make in India, Digital India, Startup India and so on. This would give a great opportunity because of the glamour of Bollywood which will join hands with the industry,” he noted.