Bollywood Stars Converge On Toronto For IIFA Awards

Shah Rukh Khan - 2010
Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

As Bollywood celebrities get their close-up in Toronto, Canadian and Indian film players are already looking forward to more collaboration as Ottawa and New Delhi ready a first-time co-production treaty.

TORONTO – As Bollywood stars walk the green carpet in Toronto for the three-day International Indian Film Academy awards, Canada and India are already gearing up to do more movie co-productions involving their respective filmmakers.

“I feel that with tax incentives and a co-production treaty, the traffic between Bollywood and Canada will only grow,” Bollywood idol Kabir Bedi (Octopussy) told the Hollywood Reporter as Ottawa and New Delhi move towards inking a first-time international co-production treaty between the two nations.

Kabir has already performed in two Bollywood movies shot in Canada: Anil Sharma’s The Hero, and Bewafaa, directed by Dharmesh Darshan.

There’s still hurdles to get over before Canada and India conclude negotiations on a co-production treaty, including issues of piracy and dodgy accounting on Bollywood movie shoots that leaves Canadian producers uncertain how their movies do on release in India.

But with Ontario premiere Dalton McGuinty this week mixing in Toronto with Bollywood celebs like Anil Kapoor (Slumdog Millionaire), Mallika Sherawat, co-host of the 2011 IIFA Awards on Saturday, Aashish Chaudhary and Boman Irani, Canadians are looking to draw Bollywood production dollars here to be treated like Canadian dollars as part of co-productions.

“It’s the synergies. They (Bollywood) have stories. We have stories. The extent to which we can share making movies, the process can only get better,” Peter Finestone, Toronto’s film commissioner, said.

Canadian TV cameramen spent much of Friday chasing Shah Rukh Khan, Bollywood’s Tom Cruise, around Toronto, first when he did some dance steps in the lobby of the Royal York Hotel, then at City Hall where he met with city mayor Rob Ford, and then for a meet and greet with premiere McGuinty.

The big highlight Friday night is the IIFA Rocks fashion show where Jermaine Jackson is to do a duet on stage with Indian pop star Sonu Nigam in honor of the late Michael Jackson.