06/21/2011 06:11 EDT | Updated 08/21/2011 05:12 EDT

Indian Film Academy Awards Touches Down In Toronto, Anil Kapoor In Town, Shah Rukh Khan En Route


CBC -- Some of Indian cinema's biggest stars arrived in Toronto on Tuesday in advance of this week's International Indian Film Academy Awards and festival.

Throngs of fans stationed themselves at Pearson airport's international arrivals area to greet starts such as Anil Kapoor, Bobby Deol and Sonu Sood and more.

Fan Palika Sharma took time away from work to catch a glimpse of her favourite stars as they arrived.

"I've always followed the IIFA shows," she told CBC News on Tuesday. "Them coming here was a big thing because it happens once in a lifetime."

A further frenzy is expected later this week when superstar Shah Rukh Khan arrives in town.

Actress Dia Mirza arrived Tuesday and said she's excited the IIFA awards have landed in Toronto.

"It's a very film-friendly place and there's an extensive Indian community here," she told CBC News. She said Bollywood films have a special energy that is spreading to North American fans.

"Bollywood is lively, it's warm, it's fun. It's a celebration."

Mirza thrilled fans by posing for pictures with them.

Actor Zayed Khan said Toronto is the ideal place to host the event.

"It's one of the biggest Bollywood movie hubs," he said. "It feels like a home away from home. It's one of the very special centres for us."


In downtown Toronto, fans were also gathering, cameras at the ready, to catch a glimpse of arriving stars.

"I'm looking forward to it. Keeping my camera open for it," Khan fan Hema Shah said from from outside of downtown's Royal York Hotel, which is hosting several IIFA-related events and where some of the stars will be staying.

Having IIFA in Toronto this year helps Shah feel a connection to her homeland, said the Indian-born Torontonian.

Banners and billboards promoting the IIFA Awards and festival are posted around Toronto, with events also taking place in the neighbouring cities of Mississauga, Brampton and Markham.

The annual celebration of Indian's massive film industry is expected to attract 40,000 visitors to the Greater Toronto Area, with more than 600 million TV viewers worldwide expected to take in Saturday's awards broadcast alone.