The 19th edition of International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) awards will be held at Bangkok’s Siam Niramit Theatre from 22-24 June.  The three-day event, alongside showcasing some power-packed performances and honouring the biggest achievers of the year 2017-18, will host a series of performances artistes and filmstars.

Sabbas Joseph, co-founder Wizcraft International, the producers and creator of IIFA, during the announcement press conference in Delhi last month, said, “IIFA began as a journey to unfurl the flag of Indian cinema in different parts of the world. It began as a one-night event and over the years it has grown into an entire weekend of different activities—celebrating music, cinema, dance, culture and business.”

“And every year,” Joseph continued, “depending on the country we go to, the event evolves, its programming changes in tune with the narrative of the host country and its relationship with India and India’s culture. So, the 19th IIFA will have its own story, its own moments of uniqueness and special moments. The story of IIFA is not just about Indian cinema; it’s really a story of bringing people together. And it’s a story of bringing countries together by using the common language of cinema.”

The Delhi presser also had Bollywood celebrities like Karan Johar, Ranbir Kapoor, Shahid Kapoor, Kartik Aaryan and Dia Mirza in attendance.

The IIFA organisers announced their tie-up with the United Nations for the campaign “Beat Plastic Pollution”, which was also the theme for World Environment Day, celebrated worldwide on 5 June 2018. Actor and UN Environment Goodwill Ambassador Dia Mirza will front the initiative during the IIFA weekend.

Talking about using her celebrity status to bring about a positive change in society, Mirza at the Delhi event said, “I have been gifted this amazing privilege that I can use some amount of influence to make a positive change and it’s a blessing… Everybody is a change-maker if they choose to be. Some of the most incredible people who bring about change are unrecognised and go unmentioned, and it doesn’t matter to them. But they keep doing their work. So, I just happen to be in the public sphere and people happen to find out what I am doing, but the truth is that if I don’t use my celebrity status to make a positive impact, then I don’t know what I can be possibly using it for.”

The actress also said that IIFA is a “great opportunity to use our [celebrities’] collective strength” to do something that adds to the betterment of society and environment.

The starry line-up of hosts and performances slated for IIFA were also announced here. Ayushmann Khurrana and Kartik Aaryan will host IIFA Rocks. The awards night will have Karan Johar and Riteish Deshmukh as emcees. Ranbir Kapoor and Shahid Kapoor will dance on some popular tracks.

All set for his upcoming performance, Ranbir said, “I am very nervous when I dance. When we dance for films there are takes but when we dance for the live audience, it is just one take. So, you have to give your best.”

The Sanju actor, who won his first IIFA award in Bangkok, seemed quite excited to be performing at IIFA 2018. “My first performance,” he said, “was in IIFA Singapore in 2008 and I am performing again in Bangkok; and Bangkok was the place I got my first IIFA award for my debut film Saawariya, so I am indeed excited. I still need to figure out what I am performing and what will be the tracks, but it will be good.”

Filmmaker and producer Karan Johar, who has had a long association with IIFA, reminisced about the days when his father, Yash Johar, was part of this forum’s advisory board. Johar said, “IIFA is also an emotional journey for me. I still remember my father sitting with Sabbas [Joseph], Viraf [Sarkari] and Andre [Timmins] [founders and creators of IIFA and Wizcraft International] for doing the seating arrangement for the awards in London in 1999. He was a part of the advisory board of first IIFA and he sat diligently in an old-school way trying to seat movie stars and leading luminaires and industrialists.

“From then on to the year 2004, the year he passed away and when he was also awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award, he remained closely associated with IIFA. That particular IIFA in Singapore in 2004 will always remain very special. It is the speech I made for my dad and it is the image of me hugging my father which was probably the last time when I hugged him on  a public platform that made that specific year of IIFA very special to me. That particular image still lies beautifully placed in my room. So, IIFA is just not in my subconscious mind but it is also in my heart and it will always be,” he added.

Johar also talked about how IIFA has become “deeply entrenched in the DNA” of the Hindi film industry. He said, “Everyone comes together [for IIFA] and it cements us together not just as a group of people, but as a true, bonafide film fraternity. So there is love, friendship, companionship—and that is the magic and magnitude of IIFA.”

As the gala returns to Bangkok after a decade, this year IIFA Foundation will be partnering with OSIAN’s auction house, India’s foremost arts and culture institution and auction house, to showcase vintage cinema memorabilia at an exhibition event which will be held at the Bangkok Marriott Marquis, Queens Park hotel from 21-23 June.

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