We went to the Oscars of Bollywood, a 5-hour extravaganza of glamorous stars, glitzy dances, and 25,000 crazed fans

NEW YORK — It was a night of glitz and glamour at the MetLife Stadium on Saturday, as the sporting venue — home of the New York Jets and the New York Giants — transformed into a colourful carnival for the International Indian Film Academy’s (IIFA) annual awards ceremony.

The IIFA Awards, also known as the Oscars of Bollywood, are held at a new international destination every year, with New York City (technically New Jersey) playing host for the first time. It was the second time that the awards came to the US, however, with Tampa being a venue back in 2014.

For the uninitiated, the Indian film industry is the largest in the world, producing between 1,500 and 2,000 films a year in more than 20 languages. It is expected to reach over $US3.7 billion in revenue by 2020, according to a study by Deloitte.

Bollywood is the colloquial name for the Hindi film industry, which dominates the Indian film industry and contributes 43% of its revenue. It gets its name from its center and birthplace, the city of Mumbai, previously called Bombay.

You may think you got a taste of Bollywood from the 2008 production “Slumdog Millionaire,” but the British drama doesn’t even come close. Bollywood films are three hour-long extravaganzas, with an eclectic mix of dance, music, and high-octane drama.

Saturday’s event was nothing less — a five-hour fest replete with sets of awards, energetic dance performances, and stand-up comedy acts. IIFA itself was a four-day event beyond the awards ceremony, featuring a music concert IIFA Rocks and a fashion show at Times Square among a whole host of other activities.

Here’s what it was like:

Hundreds of fans thronged the MetLife Stadium from mid-afternoon onwards on Saturday to catch a glimpse of their favourite stars. Here, fans eagerly wait for Bollywood actors and actresses to arrive and walk the green carpet -- IIFA's environmentally-friendly version of the red carpet.

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Fans line the green carpet at the International Indian Film Academy awards.

A number of Bollywood stars -- from Om Puri and Irrfan Khan to Priyanka Chopra -- have made a foray out west and into Hollywood over the years. Here, Anil Kapoor, who played the game show host in 'Slumdog Millionaire' and whose acting career spans almost 40 years, walks the green carpet.

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Slumdog Millionaire star Anil Kapoor walks the green carpet.

Most Bollywood films are musicals, featuring a series of vibrant song-and-dance sequences. The actors, however, don't sing their own songs. They lip sync to songs sung and recorded by other singers, which are part of albums dedicated to their films. Pictured here is singer Tulsi Kumar, who was one of the winners in the best female playback singer category, taking a selfie with fans.

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And just like the Oscars, the awards honour the best of the best in Hindi films that year. Here, actor Shahid Kapoor accepts his award for the film 'Udta Punjab,' a gritty drama focusing on the issue of drug abuse among young people in the Indian state of Punjab.


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