Sri Lanka is in a new era of peace after winning its long fought war against the Tamil Tigers, says actress Jacqueline Fernandez, elated that the IIFA Awards are being held in her home country this year and looking forward to playing the perfect host to her Bollywood colleagues.
"It's one of the biggest events Sri Lanka has seen to date. I have quite a few roles to play at the IIFA this year," Jacqueline told IANS in an interview.
"This is just not any award function for me because I am a Sri Lankan and everyone from the film fraternity is actually coming to Sri Lanka; so for me it's like a chance to welcome the people who have welcomed me so warmly," added the actress, who made her Bollywood debut with Aladin.
The International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) awards are being held in Colombo June 3-June 5 against a backdrop of massive protests from Tamils in India, who allege that members of the community continue to be discriminated in Sri Lanka and allege genocide against Sri Lankan Tamils during the war against the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam).
Film associations from southern India have also decided to boycott any actor who participates in the IIFA event this year.
"It's sad, you know. It is a very critical moment for Sri Lanka. We are really hoping for support and cooperation from every one. We are in a new era. The war ended last year and we are trying to make our country as peaceful as possible to retain the peace. Some people want to ruin that. They should see the bigger picture and move on," said Jacqueline, a former Miss Sri Lanka.
She is quite familiar with the Hindi film industry. In 2009, she started her acting career with director Sujoy Gosh's fantasy film "Aladin" in which she teamed up with Bollywood megastar and IIFA brand ambassador Amitabh Bachchan as well as Sanjay Dutt and Riteish Deshmukh. She also played the lead role in romantic comedy "Jaane Kahan Se Aayi Hai".
Jacqueline will not only welcome Bollywood stars but will also participate in the fashion extravaganza at the event.
"I will be the showstopper for a local designer Yoland and will be walking the ramp for (Hindi film industry's most sought after designer) Manish Malhotra," Jacqueline told IANS.
Talking about the outfits she will showcase, she said: "It's not traditional Sri Lankan outfit, it's more of fusion. She (Yoland) has designed lots of saris and kaftans. She makes a fusion of what she gets because she is very well-known international designer."
The 25-year-old will also perform at the main awards function, but not on any Bollywood numbers.
"Actually, this year it's going to be very different for me. I am not going to perform on any songs from my films. I am going to perform with a Sri Lankan dance troupe. Being a Sri Lankan, I want to do the opening numbers, I want to do the welcome number and want to perform with Sri Lankan dancers," said Jacqueline.
Jacqueline, however, won't participate in the charity cricket match to be played between Bollywood celebrities and Sri Lankan cricketers to help rehabilitate former Tamil Tiger child soldiers.
"I am only there to support. I will support (Sri Lanka cricket captain) Kumar Sangakkara. He is a buddy and I will support his team," she said.