TAMPA — The International Indian Film Academy turned its spotlight from movies to the world of fashion and music Thursday in a glitzy extravaganza that featured the color, romance and high energy song-and-dance routines for which Bollywood is known.
Celebrities and fans opened their hearts - and wallets - to raise money for the IIFA Foundation and the Mijwan Welfare Society for children in India. India’s Vikram Phadnis and U.S.-based designer Amita Bal showed collections that included rich, hand-beaded saris, lenghas and suits.
Actress Gauhar Khan and actor Vivek Oberoi hosted the invitation-only event, IIFA Rocks, at the Tampa Convention Center.
The crowd exploded in cheers when Bollywood celebrities Sonakshi Sinha, Sidharth Malhotra and Anil Kapoor worked the catwalk. Models also included Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, Olympic swimmer Brook Bennett and the reigning Miss America, Nina Davuluri, the first Miss America of Indian heritage.
“I just love the fashion, the music and everything that is Bollywood, said Anir Khapur, who drove from Fort Lauderdale to attend the show. “What an honor for this city to host this.”
One of the highlights of the evening came from singer Monali Thakur, whose song and dance performance left many in the audience dancing.
Thursday’s event also paid tribute to local heroes.
During a portion called Tampa Rocks, eight residents were recognized for their contributions to their community.
They were: Donna Lancaster, an advocate for victims of human trafficking; Manish Khardo, a volunteer tutor for junior and high school students; Antonio DeSousa, a 30-year hospitality employee at the downtown Hilton; Linda Hess, a community advocate; Jim Morgan, a Wall Street whiz kid who now works with non-profits; Hillsborough County Sheriff’s deputy Steve Donaldson, creator of Officers for the Homeless; Mary Myles, a mental health care advocate who runs the Graham Home for adults with mental health needs; and Naren Rama Krishna, who with his parents started a program in India to help girls with their education.
Each of the heroes walked the catwalk in traditional Indian attire.
Tampa has a lot to be proud of, said host Oberoi. “It’s not just about the city, because what makes a city great are its people. And these people are so very inspiring.”