The Indian film industry's top award show sailed into Tampa, Florida, yesterday with a pirate-themed opening musical number and celebrities ranging from Slumdog Millionaire star Anil Kapoor to John Travolta and Kevin Spacey. Before a crowd of some 20,000, the International Indian Film Academy awards kicked off with co-hosts Shahid Kapoor and Farhan Akhtar dressed as swashbuckling pirates having a mock swordfight—a nod to Tampa's love of pirate-themed parties as the show, informally known as the "Bollywood Oscars," came to the United States for the first time.
Travolta later brought the crowd to life, as Indian star Priyanka Chopra pulled him onstage and he did some signature moves from 1994 blockbuster Pulp Fiction. Later, actor Hrithik Roshan presented Travolta with an award for Outstanding Achievement in International Cinema, declaring the two-time Golden Globe winner "the coolest of them all." "I'm honored. I'm humbled," Travolta said. Spacey also wowed the crowd when presenting actress Deepika Padukone with the award for Entertainer of the Year. Spacey was persuaded to don a Lungi—a sarong—and dance to a wildly popular song called the "Lungi Dance", written for the movie Chennai Express. The show was recorded and will be broadcast in June. IIFA says some 800 million people worldwide are expected to watch the event.