Bollywood fever builds in Vancouver for film award show

Hundreds of fans were once again camped out at Vancouver International Airport on Friday for a chance to see some of the biggest stars in the Bollywood film industry arrive for Saturday's award show, including superstar Shahrukh Khan.

"I am very happy that we are here talking about cinema to people who are not only from India but from the rest of the world too and local Canadians... I hope they like us," said Khan shortly after his plane touched down.

While Bollywood cinema might not be top of the charts in Canada, the industry produces more movies than any other country. One in six people on earth are said to watch the Indian films.

The Times of India Film awards have never been held before, but the B.C. Government spent more than $10 million in taxpayers' money to bring the awards to Vancouver, claiming it was a great opportunity to boost business relations and network with India's burgeoning middle class.

Premier Christy Clark stands by the investment, saying it represents a lot more than a glitzy show.

"It looks like a big film award show, but you know what it is? It's the pointy end of a huge trade initiative that we are doing with India because the Times of India reaches 90 million people a day.

Local business groups like the immediate boost for hotels, shops and restaurants, but are also looking to the future, according to Charles Gauthier, the executive director of the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association.

"I just think it's good that we've got an event of this stature that's going to expose us to a totally different audience. We always hear about the growing middle class in India and China, and we need to tap into getting those people here."

Last night, thousands of Bollywood fans turned out for the opening event of the Times of India Film Awards , a song and dance extravaganza at the Pacific Coliseum, proving when it comes to musical spectacles Bollywood has few rivals.

TOIFA spokewoman Laura Balance says ticket sales are above expectations, but they have not sold out BC Place for the final show on Saturday night yet.

Organizers estimate somewhere between 20,000 to 30,000 people will be attending and they have reconfigured the stage three times to allow for more seating.

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