Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan says the kind of patronage the International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) is getting across the world speaks a lot for the growing impact of Indian movies.
Bachchan has just returned from announcing this year's IIFA awards in the House of Commons in Yorkshire.
"The host country offered me a state honour. Yorkshire has five counties and mayors of each county, the sheriff and all the ministers were present at the presentation ceremony.
"They booked a special train for me to travel from London to Leeds. When I arrived at the station, I was given a red carpet welcome with the mayor and his wife there to receive me while a brass band played," Amitabh told IANS.
Truly a hero's welcome....
"Not that. It just shows how much dignity is been conferred globally on the Indian film industry. The projection of the host country through IIFA is massive. We've about 400 million TV viewers across the world. Obviously, it creates a worldwide importance. That importance needs to be realised.
"The kind of patronage IIFA is getting across the world speaks a lot for the growing impact of Indian films. The whole of Europe is immersed in Indian films. We need to be extremely proud of our impact. We're making solid representations of our cinema in foreign countries.
"In Yorkshire there were 200 media persons from all over the world. I'm very happy to be a part of the movement. It's a time of great pride for us," said Amitabh.
Amitabh is gung-ho about the IFFA.
"This is the seventh year of our existence. Rather than look at us as a vacuous glamour event, we need to see the influence of IFFA in full glory. There's a great amount of interest among countries in every continent to host the IIFA. I know for a fact that this year Hong Kong and New York were bidding to host it. Yorkshire won it."
"People in India take these things lightly. But IIFA has become huge. It's a meeting of cultures, governments are involved, promoters and sponsors of the highest integrity are involved. I just hope the Indian film industry realises the importance of serving as ambassadors promoting our culture, cinema, aesthetics and other sensitivities."
But why the House of Commons?
"Why not?" Amitabh shoots back. "IIFA is no longer just an awards ceremony. It's a collaboration of two governments leading to treatise of mutual co-operation in business and entertainment. Taking IIFA to a particular country boosts tourism in that country. In Yorkshire, the minister of state made a formal announcement about the IIFA."
He attributes the global impact of Hindi cinema to the quality of films being made.
"Look at the range of films coming up - Dhoom 2, Baabul, Guru. I went for the music event of Guru. Everything was so beautifully organised. It was a memorable occasion."
Tell him the Baabul soundtrack is memorable and Amitabh retorts, "Yes. But my track is not there. That's disappointing."
Of late, Amitabh has been in and out of the country.
"It's okay," he whispers. "It's part and parcel of my job."