TALLAHASSEE — Indian megastar Preity Zinta removed her dark sunglasses and the squealing began from an adoring audience in the state Capitol.
Zinta, star of “Ishkq in Paris” and “Mission Kashmir,” was the featured attraction at another kickoff reception for the International Indian Film Academy awards in Tampa next month.
Several ceremonies have been held in Tampa to showcase the coming of the 15th annual awards, the Hindi-language film equivalent of the Oscars, to be held in Tampa on April 23-26.
The four-day event is expected to bring 25,000-30,000 visitors to the Tampa Bay area, with an economic boost of up to $30 million, organizers said.
The Indian Film Academy awards, held this year in the United States for the first time, honor achievements in Bollywood cinema. Bollywood is a portmanteau combining the names of the city formerly known as Bombay (now Mumbai), where the Indian film industry is based, and Hollywood.
Parties, panel discussions and other events will be held around the city, at locations including the Tampa Convention Center and Marriott Waterside.
Kevin Spacey of the Netflix series “House of Cards” will hold a master acting class at the downtown Hilton. The weekend culminates with the awards, slated for Raymond James Stadium.
Sen. John Legg, R-Trinity, told a crowd of Indian movie fans that he introduced a resolution recognizing the “exceptional achievements of the film industry in India and the Tampa Bay area’s hosting” of the awards.
“It’s just an honor to be the host city this year,” he said.
Young dancers with the India Association of Tallahassee also entertained the crowd of more than 100 as proud moms and dads took dozens of cellphone photographs.
But Zinta was the much-anticipated draw of the show. She created a long line when she announced she would stand for pictures after the event.
Meghal Bhatt, at the reception with her two children, said it was exciting to meet Zinty and have her photo taken with her.
“It’s already on Facebook,” she said.