Bachchan may skip IIFAs

Bollywood's biggest star doubtful after Tamil protests

NEW DELHI -- India's version of the Oscars may have to forgo the Bachchan brand name with Bollywood's most famous family expected to miss next week's awards ceremony in Colombo.

Organizers are unsure whether Amitabh Bachchan, arguably India's biggest superstar, would turn up at the International Indian Film Academy awards on June 5 in the wake of protests by Tamil groups in India urging him not to go to Sri Lanka.

Colombo plays host to the annual awards which are held in a different city each year -- a sign of Bollywood's efforts to broaden its global appeal.

But it is not a popular choice with some Tamil groups in India. Civil rights groups have said the Lankan government should be investigated for potential war crimes at the end of their three-decade war against Tamil Tiger separatists a year ago.

IIFA brand ambassador Bachchan has not attended promotional events after an initial press conference in Colombo and there are doubts over whether he would attend the awards ceremony.

"Whether he attends or not is up to him," said Sabbas Joseph of Wizcraft International, which organizes the IIFA awards.

Bachchan's son Abhishek and daughter-in-law Aishwarya, movie stars themselves, are busy promoting their new film "Raavan" directed by Tamil filmmaker Mani Ratnam at events across India.

They will not be making the trip to the IIFA event in Colombo where, not surprisingly, no such promotional events are planned for the film.

Media reports suggest a no-show by the Bachchans is more than likely after protests by Tamil groups outside the family residence in May.

"Sentiments of all must be respected and I hope that we can plan and execute that with understanding peace and grace," Bachchan said on his blog on the day of the protests.

In the absence of the Bachchans, actors Hrithik Roshan and Salman Khan will take center-stage in Colombo at the three-day IIFA weekend that begins on June 3.

Previous IIFA editions have been held at venues such as the Millennium Dome in London and Sun City in South Africa.
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