Get ready: the IIFA Awards, also known as the “Bollywood Oscars,” descend on Toronto this week

Get ready: the IIFA Awards, also known as the “Bollywood Oscars,” descend on Toronto this week

Bipasha Basu will be one of the Bollywood stars in town for the IIFA Awards. (Image: Ishara S. Kodikara/AFP/Getty) 

The stars and starlets of Bollywood will face a screaming, thronging, packed house at the Rogers Centre this week for the 2011 International Indian Film Academy Awards. Tickets for the ceremony sold out six months in advance, with the first 5,000 bought within an astonishing three minutes at a rate of just over 10 tickets per second. (Those planning on buying scalpers’ tickets, be wary of fakes.) Toronto is expected to receive upwards of 40,000 visitors for the awards, which will be the first to take place on North American soil.

Organizers will be rolling out the traditional green carpet on June 25, but the hype has been building since that delightfully awkward photo op last January with noted Bollywood enthusiast Dalton McGuinty and actors Preity Zinta and Anil Kapoor (of Slumdog Millionaire fame, for those whose Bollywood knowledge stems mostly from the Danny Boyle flick). Never one to refrain from hyperbole, Kapoor told a throng of Canadian reporters that “IIFA Toronto will be the biggest landmark event [in Indian cinema] and will define the future of relationships between our two countries.” Ahem. Other celebs expected to be in attendance include Bollywood megastars Shah Rukh Khan, Bipasha Basu, Priyanka Chopra and the Deol family.

Expect the city to pull out all the stops in welcoming India’s film community to “Bollywood West” (the ROM has already opened this exhibit of classic Bollywood movie posters), and with good reason: the event is expected to garner an international television audience of at least 600 million. There will be various lead-up festivities held throughout the GTA in the coming days, so check back throughout the week for our ongoing coverage of IIFA 2011.