3 Idiots set to win big at protest-hit Bollywood awards
Megastar Aamir Khan's hit movie 3 Idiots is set to sweep the board at the "Bollywood Oscars" in Sri Lanka this weekend, after scooping a string of awards in the technical categories. Special: IIFAUpdated: Jun 05, 2010 20:00 IST
The film -- a coming-of-age comedy about three struggling students at a top engineering college -- has been nominated in 12 of the 13 main categories in the Indian International Film Academy (IIFA) awards.
It has already won eight of the 12 technical awards announced last month, including Best Screenplay and Best Cinematography.
But actor-producer-director Khan, who stars in the film, may not even be at Saturday's glitzy ceremony in the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo, which has been overshadowed by protests from minority Tamils.
The influential film industry in India's southern Tamil Nadu state, which is home to many Tamil refugees, argues that staging the event in Colombo endorses Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse's government and called for a boycott.
Rajapakse is under pressure from the international community to submit to a probe over his controversial military strategy that crushed Tamil rebels last year, ending a near four-decade civil war.
The United Nations has said at least 7,000 Tamil civilians were also killed in the final months of fighting last year.
IIFA organiser Sabbas Joseph said the boycott call was politically motivated and insisted they will go ahead with the show.
"We want to make the awards in Colombo the best IIFA we have had so far," he told reporters.
Khan's no-show is not directly linked to the protests. He has been absent from previous IIFA awards, which have been held abroad every year since 2000 and are seen as Bollywood's answer to the Oscars.
Another high-profile doubtful for the ceremony is IIFA brand ambassador Amitabh Bachchan, who has yet to confirm his attendance.
Indian media reports have said "the Big B" will definitely stay away following pressure from the Tamil film lobby, which is seen as sympathetic to pro-Tamil Tiger elements, and recent protests outside his Mumbai home.
Bachchan's actor son Abhishek and daughter-in-law Aishwarya Rai -- Bollywood's leading couple -- are also thought unlikely to attend, while megastar Shah Rukh Khan is confirmed to be staying away.
Shah Rukh Khan escaped a bomb attack on his concert in Colombo in 2004 but two of his fans were killed.
His latest film, My Name Is Khan was released in February in more than 40 countries and became the most successful Bollywood film overseas.
The film took 39 million dollars worldwide in the month after its release in February, including 17 million dollars outside India.
Rajapakse -- a film buff -- has said he is a big fan of My Name Is Khan but has not encouraged Khan to visit Colombo.
Some second-tier stars, including Vivek Oberoi, Lara Datta, Ritesh Deshmukh, Biphasha Basu, Dia Mirza, Manish Malhotra have already attended the IIFA fashion show and are staying on for the awards night.
Sri Lanka's cricket captain Kumar Sangakkara applauded Bollywood stars for attending their annual awards, including A-list "bad boys" Salman Khan and Sanjay Dutt plus screen heartthrob Hrithik Roshan.
"I applaud you for your courage and commitment and standing by the ideals of IIFA," Sangakkara told reporters.
IIFA has been holding its annual awards abroad each year in a bid to raise the profile of the more than two-billion-dollar Hindi film industry and has seen its international success rise as a result.
Sri Lanka had hoped that hosting the Indian film stars would showcase the island's tourism potential after 37 years of ethnic conflict which claimed up to 100,000 lives between 1972 and 2009.
First Published: Jun 05, 2010 12:42 IST