Some of Indian cinema's top stars will be taking to the cricket pitch and partying hard for actress Shilpa Shetty's birthday on Friday as Bollywood reaches for a wider audience with its answer to the Oscars.
The International Indian Film Academy Awards (IIFAs), being held in Yorkshire, northern England, mark the achievements of actors in the industry, the second-largest in the world.
The event, first held in 2000, has always taken place abroad in locations including Dubai and Amsterdam and aims to raise the profile of Bollywood films, which have had patchy crossover success in recent years.
Since the IIFA kicked off here Wednesday, British Asians in Yorkshire have flocked to see screen idols such as Amitabh Bachchan and his son Abhishek, who, with wife Aishwarya Rai, makes up Bollywood's hottest couple.
But there have also been a smattering of white Britons at premieres and press conferences, most hoping to catch a glimpse of Shetty, who shot to fame here earlier this year by winning reality television show
Celebrity Big Brother
despite facing alleged racist bullying.
The IIFA started Wednesday and will culminate on Saturday with an awards ceremony in the steel manufacturing city of Sheffield hosted by pin-up Lara Dutta and comic Boman Irani.
On Friday, though, the spotlight will be firmly on Shetty, who, alongside the Bachchans and heart-throb Salman Khan, will be appearing at the cricket match at Headingley in Leeds, where England play international games.
Later, the star -- who is promoting her new film
alongside Bollywood legend Dharmendra and his two sons Sunny and Bobby Deol -- will don more glamorous attire for a party in the city's prestigious Victoria Quarters.
On Thursday, she joked that one of the reasons why she enjoyed the IIFA was because "it's one big party". Some 500 million people around the world are likely to watch the IIFA, giving strength to Amitabh Bachchan's claim that the awards are "the frontrunner in promoting Indian cinema and culture around the world."
Crossover hits combining elements of Bollywood and western film, such as 2004's
Bride And Prejudice
-- based on a novel by Jane Austen -- plus recent hits such as
suggest a growing international interest in Indian film.
But the international financial success of Bollywood films has been modest compared to Hollywood -- in 2005, the average revenue from a Hollywood film was reportedly 75 times higher than the comparable figure for Bollywood.