IIFA offers the Indian diaspora abroad interaction with film industry members
and cultural exposure to host destinations.
It was time to say Lights, Camera, IIFA in Abu Dhabi as Bollywood descended on Yas Island in the UAE for the second consecutive year to attend the prestigious IIFA Awards. The decision to come back to this location for the second consecutive night was taken due to public demand, and this showed at the venue of the event, the Etihad Arena, as the stadium was packed for both nights. There was a buzz of activity at the Abu Dhabi airport and the W Hotel, where the stars were staying, with fans lining up to catch a glimpse of their favourite actors. IIFA, Bollywood’s only global awards show, has maintained its charm and popularity over the years as it’s taken Indian cinema, music, and fashion to a different part of the world every year. IIFA gives a chance to our Indian diaspora abroad to meet and interact with members of the film industry, and it also gives locals of the host destination a chance to see our Indian culture up close. Indian cinema has truly gone global, with ripples now being felt at the Cannes Film Festival, Golden Globe Awards, and Oscars, and IIFA has played its part in attracting stars like Angeline Jolie, Kevin Spacey, and John Travolta, amongst others, to previous editions.
The 2023 IIFA weekend kicked off with the customary press conference, providing the first photo op of the star performers and hosts of the main events. This was followed by master classes by filmmakers in attendance, Omung Kumar and Kabir Khan, on the sidelines of the weekend, providing an opportunity for local budding talent to get some advice from the best in the industry. The temperatures may have been warm in Abu Dhabi, but this didn’t prove to be a dampener for the locals or those who had flown in from multiple parts of the world to be part of this extravaganza.
The first big event was IIFA Rocks, the annual musical and fashion showcase, which ends up becoming one big party for those attending. This year’s performers were talents such as Sunidhi Chauhan, Amit Trivedi, Badshah, Sukhbir, Palak Muchhal, and Nucleya, apart from Iulia Vantur, who did a special medley with Sukhbir. There was also star power in the form of the hosts, Rajkummar Rao and Farah Khan, who shared some great chemistry while introducing the performers and handing out the technical awards. There was also a special fashion show by Bollywood’s favourite designer, Manish Malhotra, which saw Salman Khan and Nora Fatehi turn show-stoppers. The evening was also well attended, with several stars like Boman Irani, Sunny Kaushal, Esha Gupta, Urvashi Rautela, Radhika Madan, and politicians Dushyant Chautala, Baba Siddiqui, and Aslam Shaikh in attendance. From Badshah’s special collaboration with popular dance group QuickStyle on stage to Sunidhi’s much-applauded performance, IIFA Rocks set the tone and tenor for the main awards night.
The IIFA awards night was the fitting finale for the IIFA weekend, with a bevy of stars on stage and in the audience regaling the Yas Island crowd. So while Jacqueline Fernandes and Nora Fatehi upped the oomph quotient with their performances, Salman Khan set the stage on fire, ending the night with a bang while dancing to a medley of his hit songs. Varun Dhawan and Rakul Preet Singh were also highlights of the evening with their energetic acts. Vicky Kaushal and Abhishek Bachchan, who’ve worked together on the big screen in Manmarziyaan, recreated their on-screen chemistry on the IIFA stage and impressed the audience with their banter and puns during their hosting. The big winners of the night included Drishyam 2, which won Best Film; R Madhavan, who took home Best Director for Rocketry; Hrithik Roshan, who won Best Actor for Vikram Vedha; and Alia Bhatt, who won Best Actress for Gangubai Kathiawadi. A highlight of the evening was Hrithik flooring the audience after winning the Best Actor award with an impromptu dance to his Kaho Na Pyaar Hai hit song along with the hosts Vicky and Abhishek. There were several other stars in attendance, including Anil Kapoor, Sara Ali Khan, Riteish & Genelia Deshmukh, AR Rahman, Vijay Varma, and Nushratt Bharucha, as well as superstar Kamal Haasan, who was honoured with an Outstanding Achievement Special Award. The IIFA green carpet, which preceded both nights, was the focus of the fashion police, who gave thumbs up or thumbs down to the outfits worn by the stars as they walked by. Some of the looks that won a lot of praise included those worn by Nora Fatehi, Urvashi Rautela, Nushratt Bharucha, Jacqueline Fernandes, and Kriti Sanon. Well, the curtains may have come down on this year’s edition of IIFA, but the countdown has certainly already begun to hear which part of the world the awards will head to next year.