Abu Dhabi hosts pandemic-delayed Bollywood awards ceremony

Indian actress Sara Ali Khan poses on the green carpet ahead of the 22nd International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) awards in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Friday, June 3, 2021. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Indian celebrities and Bollywood stars walked a green carpet at the start of the International Indian Film Academy awards in Abu Dhabi.

The Friday night ceremony had been twice cancelled in the last two years due to the coronavirus pandemic. But the famous of Bollywood arrived in the capital of the United Arab Emirates, excited to be a part of the ceremony.

“Magic is going to happen because the moment I entered Abu Dhabi,” Indian singer Tanishk Bagchi said on the green carpet. “I had a vibe that what a place to perform, what a place to perform and my own songs I am singing for the first time. It is an amazing place, it is an amazing vibe.”

Indian actress Sharvari Wagh acknowledged the links between the UAE — a nation of 9 million people where Indians represent an estimated 3.5 million — and the Bollywood scene.

”I think that this is a great opportunity to connect with a lot of people who are such big fans of Bollywood,” she said. “I think there is a huge market here that has been loving our films, so I think it is great to be here and share these moments with them.”

That was something echoed by Andre Timmins, the co-founder of IIFA Wizcraft, which put on the awards ceremony.

”We all love Abu Dhabi because it is close to India and with similar culture and our cinema and film producers are back home (and) feel comfortable shooting in Abu Dhabi, so I am here to build better relations through cinema,” Timmins said.

He added: “I think what we are trying to do and which we are already doing is actually bringing knowledge here so while we come and shoot here. We also use a lot of local people to learn the technology of what we have been” doing.

The awards will conclude Saturday night.