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Adeel Suhrwardy

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Times Of India Film Awards: Will B.C. Benefit From Bollywood Event?

Posted: 01/23/2013 4:21 pm

India, a nation of over a billion people with a rich and diverse culture, has leveraged the brand "India" to the world for a good part of the last two decades. Its major rise to the status of an emerging superpower stems not only from its military might, but also its ability to carve out a place for itself on the global stage through the projection of its "Soft Power." The concept is summed up well by Shashi Tharoor during his TED Talk in 2009.

In a world where perceptions and brands rule, India has mastered the art form rather well and continues to cash in through its art, music, dance and culture. Gone are the days when yoga was purely an eastern phenomenon practiced by the yogis in solitude. Indeed, yoga now is a global billion dollar industry, partly thanks to its branding.

The Indian film industry, commonly known as Bollywood, continues to be a major front-runner in exporting India's cultural relevance to the world, similar to what Hollywood does for the U.S. In recent years, Bollywood has successfully tapped into this global South Asian diaspora and beyond through movie premieres, award ceremonies, cultural exchanges, and appearances held regularly outside of India.

Whether it's Singapore or Macau, Malaysia or Morocco, England or Germany, South Africa or Canada, Bollywood has managed to carve out a niche for itself, a niche that can have significant impact on the economics of the city it tours.

The Times of India, one of the largest circulated English-language newspapers in the world, has been behind a number of cultural initiatives, notably "India poised," and is launching a new cultural initiative in the form of an awards ceremony called the Times of India Film Awards (TOIFA). The first one is to be held in Vancouver.

B.C. Premier Christy Clark made the official TOIFA announcement this week. The province is investing $11 million towards the events that in effect will create jobs here in B.C. on the long run. According to initial estimates, the three-day event is expected to generate between $13-18 million for the province.

Reactions within the South Asian community are mixed; some are touting it as a political ploy to gain South Asian votes.

What remains to be seen is if the community and businesses at large will be able to tap into the longer term business opportunities an event of this nature can provide. Vancouver, with its mild weather and beautiful natural beauty, is an ideal location for the filming of Indian films, yet predominantly unexplored by the Indian film community.

TOIFA, with millions of viewers, and the Times of Indian's penetration into the huge Indian middle class, may perhaps be an opportunity to elevate British Columbia's profile.

Bollywood stars have a huge following in India and abroad; they're considered national ambassadors and receive official protocol in most cities they frequent. Many locations around the world compete aggressively to host the film production for Bollywood films featuring A-list stars. London, Berlin, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Dubai, New York, New Zealand and Switzerland all have a familiar ring to a tourism hungry Indian audience; British Columbia perhaps will ring well on the sound of tourism dollars and film productions.

Through a micro lens, TOIFA is just another event that B.C. is hosting with limited benefits. But on a macro level, Canada is yet an untapped market for India to increase its strategic cultural depth and increase its "Soft Power" footprint.

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  • Indian Bollywood film actors John Abraham (R) and Chitrangda Singh perform on location during the shooting of the upcoming Hindi film 'I Me Aur Main' song directed by debutant Kapil Sharma at Kamalistan Studio in Mumbai on Jan. 18, 2013.

  • (L-R) Indian Bollywood film actresses Jacqueline Fernandez, Ameesha Patel and Deepika Padukone pose during a press meeting for the promotion of upcoming Hindi film 'Race 2' directed by Abbas-Mustan and produced by Ramesh Taurani for Tips Music Company in Mumbai on Jan. 18, 2013.

  • Shah Rukh Khan

    Indian Bollywood film actor Shah Rukh Khan poses during the launch of the first 'Toyota University Cricket Championship' (TUCC) in Mumbai on Jan.17, 2013.

  • Deepika Padukone

    Indian Bollywood film actress Deepika Padukone poses during the launch of Tanishq IVA Fashion Jewellery range in Mumbai on Jan. 18, 2013.

  • Bipasha Basu

    Indian Bollywood actress Bipasha Basu poses during the third season of the Celebrity Cricket League (CCL) curtain raiser event in Mumbai on Jan. 19, 2013.

  • Kareena Kapoor

  • Akshay Kumar & Twinkle Khanna

  • Varun Dhawan

  • Varun Dhawan

  • Aishwarya Rai

  • Aishwarya Rai

  • Aishwarya Rai

  • Abhishek Bachchan

  • Kareena Kapoor

  • Kareena Kapoor

  • Kareena Kapoor

  • Mahesh Bhatt

  • Wajid Ali & Preity Zinta

  • Priety Zinta

  • Salman Khan

  • Arjun Kapoor

  • Ranbir Kapoor

  • Salman Khan

  • Salman Khan

  • Indian cricketer Sachin Tendulkar (R) and Bollywood singer Asha Bhonsle chat during a function to launch the music of her debut film 'Mai' - Mother - in Mumbai on Jan. 22, 2013.

  • Deepika Padukone

    Indian Bollywood film actress Deepika Padukone poses during a promotional event on the set of the television dance show 'Nach Baliye 5' in Mumbai on Jan. 22, 2013.

  • Shilpa Shetty

    Indian Bollywood film actress Shilpa Shetty poses during a promotional event on the set of the television dance show 'Nach Baliye 5' in Mumbai on Jan. 22, 2013.

  • Katrina Kaif

    Indian Bollywood film actress Katrina Kaif interacts with schoolchildren at a screening of the upcoming Hindi Film 'Main Krishna Hun' directed by Rajiv S Ruia in Mumbai on Jan. 22, 2013.

  • Prachi Desai

    Indian Bollywood film actress Prachi Desai poses on location during the shooting of the upcoming Hindi film 'I Me Aur Main' song directed by debutant Kapil Sharma at Kamalistan Studio in Mumbai on Jan. 18, 2013.

  • Indian Bollywood film actors John Abraham (R) and Chitrangda Singh pose on location during the shooting of the upcoming Hindi film 'I Me Aur Main' song directed by debutant Kapil Sharma at Kamalistan Studio in Mumbai on Jan. 18, 2013.

  • Indian Bollywood film actors John Abraham (L) and Chitrangda Singh perform on location during the shooting of the upcoming Hindi film 'I Me Aur Main' song directed by debutant Kapil Sharma at Kamalistan Studio in Mumbai on Jan. 18, 2013.

  • Indian Bollywood personalities (front L-R) Vivek Oberoi, Tina Ambani, Gulshan Grover, Sakshi Tanwar and Sharman Joshi applaud participants during the Mumbai Marathon on Jan. 20, 2013.

  • Indian Bollywood film actor John Abraham poses on location during the shooting of the upcoming Hindi film 'I Me Aur Main' song directed by debutant Kapil Sharma at Kamalistan Studio in Mumbai on Jan. 18, 2013.

 

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