The spirit of Bollywood hits Dubai with first edition of Indo-Arab Bollywood awards

A hundred Bollywood stars will be in the city this Friday for the first edition of the Arab-Indo Bollywood Awards. We talk to the jury chairman Tigmanshu Dhulia

The debut Arab-Indo Bollywood Awards will be held in Dubai on Friday, with a star-studded line-up of celebrities set to attend and perform, including Priyanka Chopra, Jacqueline Fernandez and ­Salman Khan.

The ceremony, at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai, will be hosted by filmmaker Karan Johar and television presenter Manish Paul, the host of Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa, a dance-based reality show.

The nominees have been selected from Hindi films released last year and 25 awards will be handed out across three categories – Main, Technical and Special Awards.

The AIBA jury chairman, National Award-winning filmmaker Tigmanshu Dhulia (Saheb, Biwi aur Gangster; Paan Singh Tomar), says it was only a matter of time before the UAE got its own Bollywood awards show.

What is the spirit behind AIBA?

The event is a collaboration of ideas and efforts aimed at promoting Indian cinema, and the exceptional talent that it has to offer, in the UAE. It also creates a certain bond between the two countries, which already have a strong history of cultural relations.

What can the audience look forward to on Friday?

The ceremony is planned with the audience in mind, and we are sure to give them an entertaining night to remember. The hosts for the evening will be Karan Johar and Manish Paul – and as we have already seen in the past, they can really entertain an audience with their wit. Plus we will have performances from the likes of Salman Khan, Priyanka Chopra, Parineeti Chopra, Jacqueline Fernandez, Varun Dhawan and many others. I can definitely tell you this – more than 100 stars are expected to attend the show.

How does the nomination process work?

These awards are a bit ­different from the others. We have tried to make things fair and simple. Most importantly, the general public also have had the chance to cast their votes, which allows us to put our finger on the pulse of the viewers. In general, based on the feedback we’ve received so far, I believe that the whole film fraternity is quite ­satisfied with the fact that the nominations have gone through a non-biased voting system.

Why was the UAE chosen to host the awards? How ­important is the Arabian Gulf to the future of Bollywood?

India and the Arab world have a strong history of friendship and cooperation, and these awards are a testimony to that legacy. The Indian diaspora is really big here, which makes the region a very important one for the entire Bollywood industry. We have also been witnessing an overwhelmingly ­positive response to our ­cinema from Emiratis and other Arabs. They love to watch Indian films and enjoy the drama, emotions and ­music that our films have to offer. And finally, the AIBA platform also creates an open dialogue to target GCC ­investors for Indian films. In that sense, having this event in Dubai highlights the true potential of such a collaboration.

What are you working on right now? How has winning a National Award changed things for you?

I am working on two projects – Yaara and Madam X. In fact, I was recently in Dubai working on one of them. It was a great honour for me to win the National Award [the real-life-inspired Paan Singh Tomar, starring Irrfan Khan, won Best Film in 2013] as it's a testimony of your work, efforts and vision bearing fruit. It lends credibility to your work and how it is perceived by the public. Of course, at the same time, it does put a bit of pressure on you to perform better the next time – but I guess that is always a good thing, as it keeps you driven.

• The Arab-Indo Bollywood Awards ceremony is at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai from 8pm on May 30. Tickets, from Dh200, are available at UAE ­Exchange outlets and from

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