Entertainment
Vancouver To Host New Bollywood Awards Show But It’s Not Without Controversy And Questions
January 23, 2013
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If you're a Bollywood fan, Vancouver is the place to be this spring.

The city is hosting the first-ever Times of India Film Awards at BC Place on April 6 - honouring the top talent in Bollywood.

Premier Christy Clark says hundreds of millions of people are expected to watch the awards on television - up to 700 million viewers across 110 countries.

The event will feature performances by a number of stars including Shah Rukh Khan, Ranbir Kapoor, Katrina Kaif, Abhishek Bachchan, Priyanka Chopra, Anuska Sharma.

There will also be events tied to the awards across Vancouver from April 4 to 6, including Indian film screenings at various theatres.

As part of the agreement, the Times of India media group will profile British Columbia on its various platforms.

"They reach over 90 million people every single day, most of them in India, and that kind of exposure can garner tremendous opportunity for people in our province," Clark said.

"We are building a deep and enduring friendship between our two countries."

Also as part of the deal, at least one Bollywood production will be shot in B.C., the government said.

The Bollywood film industry is worth billions of dollars and produces thousands of movies every year.

The B.C. government will spend $9.5 million to host the awards, plus another $1.5 million to host a B.C.-India business forum and other trade events.

"This is a tremendous economic opportunity for British Columbia to reach new markets - one that we will take advantage of," said Clark.

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Altogether, Clark estimates the events will generate between $13 million and $18 million in spending in B.C.

The Vancouver Board of Trade supports the deal, as India is expected to become the third-biggest economy in the world within the next 40 years.

Last week, there was a report that B.C. was trying to land a different event, the International Indian Film Academy Awards.

But on Monday, the IIFA announced that B.C.'s bid was rejected. In a news release, it also called the Times of India event a "copycat."

It went on to emphasize that the IIFA is "the world's biggest international celebration of Indian cinema," "the biggest extravaganza of Indian Cinema," and "India's biggest media event."

The Indian International Film Awards debuted in North America in Toronto in 2011, with the Ontario government spending $12-million to host the event.

It is said to have attracted 40,000 visitors to the city and some 700 million viewers on TV.

The IIFA said the location and dates for the 2013 awards will be announced soon.

Meantime, there are questions about the timing of Premier Clark's plan to bring the Times of India event to Vancouver.

Critics say the province shouldn't be spending millions to host this event, when the B.C. film industry is struggling right now.

And Clark has faced criticism for not offering enough tax breaks to keep productions coming to B.C.

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Gurpreet Singh is a talk show host with Radio India based in Surrey.

He told CBC News that many callers "think it's a political gimmick because it's happening too close to the upcoming provincial election."

"The local film industry isn't getting much help from the B.C. government, so what kind of message the government is trying to convey by inviting Bollywood stars over here?" he said.

Singh says callers are questioning if Clark's government is using the event to try to get votes from the South Asian community.

The Times Of India awards take place just weeks before the provincial election in May.

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