Mitch Perry Report 4.21.14: Ready or not, Bollywood Oscars come to Tampa

After 10 months of substantial build-up (some would call it hype) in the local press, the International Indian Film Academy awards (also known as the Bollywood Oscars) come to Tampa this week, the first time the four-day event has taken place in the United States. The event is a huge deal for the political and business elite in Tampa, who were naturally thrilled last June  to win the bid to host  the event. It's also a huge boon for the local Indian-American community, and for all of those in the region who are fans of Bollywood movies.

As for the rest of the community? It's debatable how engaged they are. In some respects IIFA is similar to other high-profile events that have come to the Tampa Bay area over the years. For all the hype about hosting a Super Bowl or a Republican National Convention, there are segments of the population who tune out those events, unhappy that their community is being besieged by thousands of out-of-towners.

But unlike the RNC and the Super Bowl, the Bollywood Oscars are not yet an event that attracts much attention anywhere else in the U.S (though there was that entertaining publicity stunt in Times Square). While Bollywood films are gaining in popularity all the time, they still pale in terms of exposure in the States compared to our own movie industry.

And like the Super Bowl and RNC, most "regular folk" aren't really part of the whole experience that surrounds the big event. Because of that discrepancy, the National Football League created the "NFL Experience," deemed an "interactive theme park" that allows fans in the host city to engage in some part of the activities.

Before the RNC came to town, Host Commitee Chairman Ken Jones promised something called "Civic Fest," which was held in Minneapolis during the 2008 RNC as a way to get the public involved. But unfortunately, that never happened in Tampa.

Now IIFA is presenting "IIFA Stomp."  Taking place Wednesday night at Curtis Hixon Park, it's a free event open to the public and is described by local officials as a "tailgate party" for the main events later in the week.

Unlike the Oscars, tickets to the big awards show on Saturday night have been accessible to the public from the get-go, but at a very premium price. Sure it's a bit elitist, but I do chuckle when I hear some locals complain about that — as if the prices were lower for the awards show this Saturday night, they'd decide to go? Doubtful, when there's a good chance you won't recognize one name among the nominees (heck, the Oscars have been derided themselves as elitist over the years for bypassing more popular films for the artier ones, hence the increase in the number of nominees in recent years).

But at least one can kick back and watch the awards on Saturday night, as part of the frequently invoked "800 million" members of a global community watching the event, right? Uh, not exactly. Steve Persall of the Tampa Bay Times reports this morning that in fact  the awards show will not be broadcast live in this market. If you happen to have Verizon FIOS or DISH TV, you can watch it in June , if you subscribe to Star Plus, an Indian cable channel accessible as a separate package on your cable bill.

In other news….. The old adage about dumping bad news on a quiet Friday afternoon was never more apparent than with the White House announcement on Good Friday that they were punting again on a decision regarding the XL Keystone Pipeline. But DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz says it's no big thang...

The family of Arthur Green, Jr. — the Tampa man who died last week after being handcuffed by Tampa police, who pulled him over when a diabetic episode apparently led him to drive recklessly — is not happy with the way his death has been described by authorities and is meeting with high-profile attorney Barry Cohen.

And Hillsborough County Commissioner Victor Crist tells CL he can't understand why anyone has an issue with his proclamation honoring Southern Heritage Month...

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