Indo-Canadian filmmaker Deepa Mehta has described the International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Awards in Toronto this week as “Indian kitsch”. The three-day Bollywood show does not represent Indian culture, the Oscar-nominated filmmaker said in Toronto Tuesday.
“Bollywood is not Indian culture, it’s pop culture. There’s a big difference,” Mehta told the Canadian Press.
To describe the IIFA Awards as representation of Indian culture is just like calling teen pop sensation Justin Bieber a representative of Canadian culture, the Water director said.
Mehta, who herself was honoured at the 2007 IIFA Awards, said though she will attend the weekend ceremonies, she doubts whether the mega-show will enhance Bollywood’s appeal in North America.
She said North America can hardly add much to Bollywood’s bottom line. “It’s hardly relevant. Of course there’s a (North American) audience but it’s a very limited audience. It’s an audience that really is comprised of Southeast Asians,” Mehta said.
Since IIFA organizers have been taking the show to the world’s major cities each year to popularise Bollywood on the global stage, she said, “They are there for a purpose – they galvanize a nation for a period of time into really thinking about popular culture and that’s fun. It’s good, IIFA is what it is, which is pure entertainment but I think it’s sort of dicey when you start thinking of it as something serious.”
Wizcraft director Sabbas Joseph has described the Toronto IIFA Awards as “India’s cinema’s gateway to North America”. Major theatres and venues across Toronto and its surrounding Indian-dominated cities of Mississauga, Brampton, and Markham have been screening Bollywood films and shows since June 17 before the three-day extravaganza that will culminate in IIFA Awards at the city’s Rogers Centre June 25.