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Bollywood flood in city of canals

Amsterdam, June 9: From the busy Schipol Airport to the 650-year-old theatre, Pathe Tuschinski, it’s over to Bollywood this week in Amsterdam.

The 2005 edition of the International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Awards may be just a three-day event but the Dutch authorities believe that the hysteria revolving around the weekend may multiply the number of Indian tourists to “the city of canals and tulips” as much as threefold.

The Singapore edition of the awards in 2004 had helped the Lion City double the number of tourists. But the Dutch advantage is being tipped to be bigger and better.

And the figures came from the Big B himself. After the flagging-off ceremony at Amsterdam’s Grand Hotel, Amitabh Bachchan, IIFA’s brand ambassador, told The Telegraph: “I had the honour of having a meeting with the Prime Minister of the Netherlands yesterday and he expects the count of 30,000 Indian tourists to Amsterdam to be at least 90,000 before the end of the year. They are not only looking at using this country to develop the Indian film industry but also the Dutch film industry here.”

So the three-day IIFA weekend has spilled over to the whole week and everything ' from film workshops to film festivals to global business forums ' is being organised, apart from the world premiere of Vidhu Vinod Chopra-produced Parineeta and the glittering awards ceremony on June 11.

The IIFA Film Festival is slated to take Bollywood from home videos to big-screen action. Laetitia Griffith, the alderwoman of economic affairs for the city of Amsterdam, said: “Many Dutch people like myself have grown up watching Indian films at home. But now we want to merge the creativity with the commercial spirit and take Hindi films to the theatres here.”

Of the 26 Indian films to be shown at the festival ' including Veer-Zaara, Black and Mughal-e-Azam ' seven screenings have been sold out, marking the healthy response from Dutch movie buffs.

Destination marketers Amsterdam Partners have come forward to join hands with IIFA to make the city ' where Bachchan blockbusters like Great Gambler and Silsila were shot ' the next destination for Bollywood.

Said William Stevens, the chairman of Amsterdam Partners: “The IIFA awards will go on to promote business between the two countries in not just films but also in fashion, jewellery and the arts in general.”

The sixth edition of the IIFA Awards has also brought under one roof newspersons from all parts of the world. They may not understand Salman Khan’s awkwardness in front of Aishwarya Rai or the hesitation of Bachchan inaugurating a book with Rekha’s picture on its cover but they are enjoying every moment of the magic named Bollywood.

And with director Pradeep Sarkar’s Parineeta ' showcasing a 1960s Calcutta ' being the chosen film for the world premiere tonight, the two nation tie-up comes closer home.

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