Shilpa Shetty centre of attraction at IIFA
The buzz among many gathered in Leeds is about who will the beautiful actress invite for her 'private' birthday party on Friday, when she turns 32.india Updated: Jun 07, 2012 17:02 IST
Top Indian film stars are pouring out of trains arriving in York and Leeds for the IIFA Weekend, but actress Shilpa Shetty continues to be the centre of attraction as Britain's love affair with her post-Big Brother incarnation continues.
As the year-long preparations for the high-profile four-day IIFA event are set to climax beginning on Thursday, the buzz among many gathered in Leeds is about who will Shetty invite for her 'private' birthday party on Friday, when she turns 32.
Shetty is scheduled to throw a birthday party at the Victoria Quarters in Leeds, but organisers and her aides are keeping the guest list a secret. At the train station and on the streets of Leeds, Shetty looked every bit the celebrity, basking in the knowledge that, for now, she is clearly the most recognised Indian in Britain.
On Wednesday, Shetty tucked into traditional Indian cuisine with family members and IIFA organisers at the award-winning Aagrah restaurant in the city centre. The Leeds branch of Aagrah - famous for its Kashmiri cuisine - has been renamed IIFA Café Aagrah during June.
As Shetty enjoyed the Aagrah cuisine, her fans looked through film memorabilia, entered competitions and dined on special dishes selected personally by Indian stars including the IIFA brand ambassador Amitabh Bachchan.
During the Big Brother row, Shetty was perceived as poised and dignified in the face of bullying. Local fans said she retained the same poise and dignity even though, as she said, her luggage had not arrived with her.
She said, "I'm in dire straits right now. My bags haven't arrived so I've no make-up, nothing. I've begged and borrowed but I had to be here - I couldn't not come. Yorkshire is beautiful. It really is. This is the first time I've been here. I really love it - it's so green. I am so happy that people have been kind enough to invite us here. I am really very excited".
Others arriving in Leeds on Wednesday included Dharmendra and his sons, Sunny and Bobby. Their latest film, Apne, will be showcased during the IIFA event. A special tribute will also be paid to Dharmendra, along with Hrishikesh Mukherjee and Amitabh Bachchan, at the Cineworld complex in Bradford on Saturday.
Meanwhile, a specially commissioned train to ferry stars to the IIFA awards weekend was unveiled at the King's Cross station, London on Wednesday. Stars of the latest thriller, The Train, including Emraan Hashmi and Geeta Basra, travelled from London to York on the train. The film is to be premiered on Thursday.
This special train is run by the private company GNER, features the image of an Indian woman.