Bollywood stars need to be more professional in America

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Actor Salman Khan at IIFA press conference. Photo: Peter Ferreira.

NEW YORK – New York City was deluged by actors and celebrities from Bollywood this past weekend, for the IIFA New York concert and awards show at the MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

The ripple effects were seen at multiple other events in the Tristate area, as organizations tied up with some of the visiting stars to either host or make an appearance at their own meets.

With IIFA-related events including a day-long meet replete with panel discussions at the Asia Society – where among others, Anil Kapoor and Preity Zinta had fireside chats, a free dance, fashion and musical show at Times Square, bell ringing at NASDAQ, apart from a ‘press’ conference at the Sheraton Times Square, there were plenty of opportunities for fans to get a dekho at some of their favorite stars.

Of course, the most cheers were reserved for the 50-year-old hunk Salman Khan, who, in his inimitable style, or maybe keeping with the cultivated culture of being late by a few hours for events which he attends in India – just to keep the suspense and his aura of invincibility intact, one would imagine – didn’t disappoint in that respect, his fans in America, too.

Anil Kapoor, in his talk at the Asia Society, spoke at some length about the professionalism of the film and TV industry in America, which he rated much higher than industry counterparts in India.

And Kapoor, who has got a good taste of America after his stint on the drama 24, couldn’t have been more right.

It’s terrible how stars like Salman Khan, and all the others who were present for IIFA, have no respect for time: they take it for granted that it’s OK to be late.

Not so in America.

The weekend ‘press’ conference by IIFA and Wizcraft was poorly organized, a total chaos, with a huge hall of people waiting for hours beyond the time slot for Salman Khan and Co. to make an appearance. It was a joke to even call it a press conference, with no respect for journalists present.

One should have realized the state of affairs with a prior IIFA video conference from Mumbai for journalists in New York starting almost two hours late, with not a word of apology from Salman Khan, Katrina Kaif, and Alia Bhatt, or the organizers.

The IIFA organizers, of course, are perhaps petrified of losing Salman Khan too, just like they have lost other major talent in the past. They seem to have resigned themselves to pandering to the whims and fancies of stars. It’s either that, or the end of their successful run, which is beginning to look frayed, and jaded.

Without a main star like Salman, Aamir Khan, Shah Rukh Khan or Hrithik Roshan, it would spell doom for the annual IIFA extravaganza.

It was the same story through the weekend. The Times Square freebie started hours late, as did even the concert and awards show at MetLife stadium.

IIFA organizers, Wizcraft and stars like Salman Khan, need to understand one thing, if it’s even possible for them to do so: this is not India, it’s America.

Here, in New York City and in other major cities in America, there are multiple events like on the scale of IIFA held every day 365 days a year. Most respect and value time, meets start on time. And this includes events with the biggest stars on Earth, like the Oscars and the Grammies.

An organizer with IIFA had this pathetic statement to make as to why every event was delayed: “It’s the stars. You know how they are.”

Well, not really.

IIFA needs to understand that the younger generation in America, the first and second generation Indian Americans, are more close today to Bollywood music which are remixed at dance clubs, than watching ageing stars like Salman struggle to show off a few steps on stage. Also, wannabe Bollywood stars shine and fade within months, with only a song perhaps to perpetuate their legacy, through YouTube videos.

The older generation of Indians, too, are fast losing touch with the newer generation of Bollywood actors who have struggled to get the same halo of charisma around them that the trio of Khans and Hrithik to an extent, have. A surfeit of entertainment, through mobile devices and an array of new channels at home, also have taken out the need to really go out to watch an awards show like IIFA. It’s a dying tradition.

With the deterioration in quality of most Bollywood films, barring a few which Aamir Khan acts in, or the oddball success, focus has also shifted to a new wave of big budget action films coming out from the South, including Baahubali, the stars of which would be seen next month at the India Day parade in Manhattan.

Actor Gulshan Grover at the Stardust Awards. Photo: Peter Ferreira.

Here’s another example of the unprofessional attitude and behavior of Bollywood stars: at the Stardust awards, last Thursday night – a cocktails and sit-down dinner show at the iconic Plaza Hotel, in Manhattan, the ‘bad man’ Gulshan Grover made an appearance, but two minutes into the awards, when the master of ceremonies called out for the popular yesteryears villain of Hindi films to come onto stage, there was no response. Somebody informed from his table he had gone to the restroom.

Well, it was like Waiting for Godot.

Grover never did come back into the room. He apparently left.

Response from Gulshan Grover:
Gulshan Grover blames Stardust for awards meet fiasco in New York

(This post has been updated on 07/21/17).

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