With stars galore, IIFA gets off to rocking start in KL

Kuala Lumpur, June 5 (IANS) With stars like Hrithik Roshan, Arjun Kapoor, Sonakshi Sinha and Jacqueline Fernandez and veterans like Anil Kapoor, Anupam Kher and Subhash Ghai in attendance, the 16th edition of International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Weekend and Awards kickstarted here on Friday with much fanfare.

The three-day gala began on a business-related note with FICCI-IIFA Global Business Forum, where Anupam spoke about the Indian cinema and how it’s flourishing under the country’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “Hero No. 1” director David Dhawan and filmmaker Sajid Nadiadwala were also present at the forum and expressed interest in making films in Malaysia.

What followed was a star-studded opening press conference, graced by Bipasha Basu, Anupam, Anil, Ayushmann Khurrana, Sonakshi, Lauren Gottlieb, Aditi Rao Hydari, Kanika Kapoor, Arjun, Jacqueline and Kainaat Arora. Also present was Ghai, who will be conferred the lifetime achievement award on Sunday.

“This weekend of IIFA will be the best,” Anil said here.

The opener itself gave a glimpse into the fun in store over the weekend. While Ayushmann, who will co-host music extravaganza IIFA Rocks on Friday, sang a few lines of his hit number “Pani da rang” during the conference, the celebrities also shook leg on Arjun’s song “Tune maari entriyaan”.

Sonakshi, who will croon at IIFA Rocks and will also dance on the awards night, was delighted to visit Malaysia after a long time.

“I was in school when I visited Malaysia and now I am here for IIFA,” said the 28-year-old.

Jacqueline got emotional too.

“The last time I joined IIFA was in my home country Sri Lanka and this year, it’s at my mother’s home country. So, this year is special too. My mother will be in the audience today at IIFA Rocks,” said the Sri Lankan beauty.

Established in 2000, IIFA is in Malaysia for the second time. It was held in Genting Highlands in 2002.

Bipasha walked down the memory lane as she took charge of the mike.

“Thirteen years back, I was here for IIFA and I was just a newcomer. It’s been a wonderful journey so far,” said the “Raaz” star, who shopped a lot and ate good food ever since she reached the Malaysian capital.

While other stars are still expected to arrive and light up the stage, actor Hrithik Roshan was spotted at the venue JW Marriott. He was greeted by excited fans, who yelled at top of their lungs and tried to get a few shots of the Bollywood star.

Hrithik even took to a platform at the Pavilion Mall here to interact with his fans, and give them a sense of excitement and revelry that will unfold over three days of celebration of Hindi cinema.

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