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'3 Idiots' cleans up at IIFAs

Controversial venue leads some stars to pass on awards

NEW DELHI -- India's most successful film comedy caper “3 Idiots” swept the International Indian Film Academy awards Saturday night in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

“Idiots” bagged best film, best director for Raju Hirani, best actress for Kareena Kapoor and best story, among other nods.

Organized by Mumbai-based event management company Wizcraft Entertainment, the IIFAs are held annually outside India, since the inaugural event in 2000 at London's Millennium Dome.

But this year's choice of Sri Lanka as the venue led to protests by some Tamil groups in South India, who demanded that the Sri Lankan government be investigated for potential war crimes after a three-decade war against Tamil Tiger separatists ended last year.

The South Indian Film Chamber of Commerce threatened to boycott the release of films in South India of any Bollywood star who attended the awards. As a result, reports over the weekend indicated that recent release “Kites” starring top actor Hrithik Roshan was pulled out of theaters in the southern Indian city of Chennai.

The absence of IIFA brand ambassador and iconic Bollywood legend Amitabh Bachchan and superstar Shah Rukh Khan and others yielded less star power for the awards than the past.

Regardless, the glittering ceremony featured live performances by top actors Salman Khan, Hrithik Roshan and Saif Ali Khan along with actresses Kareena Kapoor and Bipasha Basu.

Other winners included Bachchan for best male performance in “Paa,” whose Vidya Balan shared the trophy for best female leading performance with Kareena Kapoor for “3 Idiots."

Best supporting male role went to Sharman Joshi for “3 Idiots” and best supporting female role was picked up by Divya Dutta for “Delhi 6."