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Bollywood's International Film Awards coming to Tampa Bay

5:53 PM, Jul 5, 2013   |    comments
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Tampa, FL -- Tampa tourism officials made a huge announcement Friday, letting everyone know that the 2014 Indian International Film Awards will be coming to Tampa Bay next June.

The big show is India's equivalent of the Oscar awards, and you may not know the stars names. But close to a billion fans do.

A lot of those fans live right here in the Bay area.

Officials with "Visit Tampa Bay" say you cannot overstate how big a deal this is, placing it on the same level as landing the Super Bowl or the Republican National Convention.

The announcement was greeted with big excitement at Patel Brothers market on Fowler Avenue, which some might say is Tampa's closest thing to Mumbai.

Here, even India's version of MTV is routed through the loud speakers. When asked if they were excited about the news, the answer was a resounding yes!

"That would be a great chance to see them, the stars," said 80-year-old Ramesh Patel.

Visit Tampa Bay has a delegation at the 2013 awards in Macau, China this week. And it was there that they announced next year's International Indian Film Awards will be held here in Tampa.

It's their first time ever bringing the show to the U.S.

"Outside India, people are going to realize how crazy Indians are with movies." said Kulirma Babu.

Indian Americans, an estimated 20,000 in the Bay area alone, say it's a huge deal. India's film industry, nicknamed Bollywood, is not that far behind Hollywood and is incredibly popular with its own big screen stars and loyal followings.

Even At 24 , Anjay Parshotam from Tampa knows the names of the big Indian stars. Bollywood entertainment is readily available in the U.S. and is still popular with fans of all ages.

"You have such a big Indian population that's come over from India and to have something like this will be great," said Parshotam, "There's gonna be a good turnout I can already imagine."

Tens of thousands of fans, they predict, will flock to Tampa to see their favorite stars.

The estimated economic impact from the multi-day event is around 24,000 room nights at area hotels, and an $11 million cash infusion.

Businesses also hope the international exposure will deliver long-term economic returns, as India's population of well-over a billion tunes in to see its favorite stars living it up in a place called Tampa.

"They must come here. Everybody likes Bollywood, you know? Its big stars and very good things. So anyone who sees the TV. Anyone watching the TV - everybody will come try it here - the fun here," said Mike Purohit, Patel Borthers manager.

The delegation which got Bollywood's commitment is scheduled to return to the Bay area from China this weekend. They'll be making the official announcement on Monday.

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