Bollywood star Abhishek Bachchan said he's “thrilled to return to Abu Dhabi” to host the International Indian Film Academy Awards gala at the Etihad Arena on Yas Island.
Bachchan, who performed at the event – one of the biggest of its kind dedicated to all things Bollywood – last year, will share hosting duties with acclaimed actor Vicky Kaushal on Saturday night. Top films and talents of 2022 will be honoured on the night, which will also feature performances by superstar Salman Khan and actors Varun Dhawan, Kartik Aaryan, Ayushmann Khurrana, Kriti Sanon, Nora Fatehi, Jacqueline Fernandez and Rakul Preet Singh.
“It will be an absolute pleasure and honour to entertain and meet fans from all over the world,” Bachchan said on Thursday. “We're all working very hard to prepare a wonderful weekend to entertain all of you, but most importantly to celebrate Indian cinema.”
Kaushal, who won Best Actor last year for the biopic Sardar Udham, said he was excited to share the stage with “my buddy Abhishek Bachchan”.
“My journey with IIFA has been tremendously exciting over the years and I can't wait to be on stage to co-host IIFA Awards 2023,” he said.
Khan made a fashionably late entrance, and briefly interacted with the media.
Speaking of his fondness of Abu Dhabi, he said he had so many good memories, having filmed multiple times in the city.
“I'm happy that IIFA tickets sold out, so thank you all,” he said to loud cheers.
First held in London in 2000, the IIFA Awards are hosted by a different city each year but this is the second year in a row Abu Dhabi is hosting the event. Cities that have previously hosted the awards include Dubai, Bangkok, New York, Colombo, Amsterdam, Madrid, Florida, Kuala Lumpur and Macau.
Saturday's gala will be preceded by IIFA Rocks, a night dedicated to music and fashion.
Acclaimed actor Rajkummar Rao and director Farah Khan Kunder will host the night, which will also feature a fashion show by celebrated designer Manish Malhotra. Malhotra, who is set to open his flagship store in Dubai later this year, is celebrating 25 years in the fashion industry.
“IIFA is a real example of a worldwide phenomenon that not only recognises and honours the excellence of Indian cinema on a global scale but also offers the entire film industry a terrific opportunity. Personally, I am overjoyed to host IIFA Rocks once again,” Khan Kunder said.
Rao said he was excited at “the prospect of having fun and making memories.”
“It's going to be a blast,” he added.
Saleh Mohamed Saleh Al Geziry, director general of tourism at DCT Abu Dhabi, spoke of the shared cultural and economic ties between India and the UAE.
“Abu Dhabi has served as the setting for a number of Bollywood blockbusters, allowing people all over the world to learn about our stunning country,” he said. “The biggest celebration of Indian cinema will take place in Abu Dhabi, and we are excited to welcome the illustrious actors, directors and members of the Indian film community, as well as their supporters.”
Stars scheduled to attend the awards gala on Saturday include Alia Bhatt, Kamal Haasan, Hrithik Roshan, Anil Kapoor, Riteish and Genelia D’Souza and Dia Mirza.
Abu Dhabi Film Commissioner Hans Fraikin said: “Abu Dhabi is the first city to host the IIFA Awards twice, and I firmly believe it will pave the way for more collaboration in the future as even more Indian filmmakers discover all that Abu Dhabi has to offer, from stunning locations and exceptional talent and facilities to generous financial incentives.”
“Over the past decade alone, Abu Dhabi Film Commission has supported 11 Indian film productions. It has been our pleasure to provide support and help ensure that Indian filmmakers are able to execute their creative visions in the most efficient and cost-effective way,” he added.
Sabbas Joseph, director of Mumbai event company Wizcraft International Entertainment, which organises the IIFA Awards, promised a bigger and better event this year.
“One year ago, IIFA 2002 was brilliant in Abu Dhabi at Yas Island. Take two will be that much better and that much bigger,” he said.