TAMPA, Fla. -
The Indian film industry's top award show sailed into Tampa Saturday 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 started with the entrance of actors aboard a float built like a pirate ship - a nod to Tampa's love of pirate-themed parties. The show informally known as the "Bollywood Oscars" are being held in the United States for the first time.
The show was recorded and will be broadcast in June. IIFA says some 800 million people worldwide are expected to watch the event.
Co-hosts Shahid Kapoor and Farhan Akhtar, dressed in swashbuckling outfits, demanded the key to Tampa from Mayor Bob Buckhorn, who was sitting in the front row at the city's NFL stadium.
"I will give you this key if and only if you entertain us," said Mayor Buckhorn, after which Kapoor and Akhtar climbed onstage and proceeded to have a mock sword fight.
But it was Travolta that made the crowd come to life. Indian star Priyanka Chopra pulled him onstage and Travolta did some signature moves from his 1994 blockbuster film "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."
Hollywood actor and two-time Academy Award winner Kevin Spacey also wowed the crowd. He presented actress Deepika Padukone with the award for Entertainer of the Year.
Padukone and the co-hosts persuaded Spacey to don a Lungi - a sarong - and dance to a wildly popular song called the "Lungi Dance", which was written for the movie "Chennai Express."
Before the show started, Travolta, Spacey and dozens of Indian film stars walked slowly past hordes of international media outside the stadium. Unlike the Academy Awards, IIFA uses a green carpet instead of a red one.
Like a Bollywood movie, the awards show was long, colorful and filled with spectacular song-and-dance numbers. The show started about an hour and a half late, and ended about 3 a.m. EDT.
"Bollywood" is the term for the film industry based in Mumbai (Bombay). Although it is used mostly to refer to the lengthy song-and-dance movies in the Hindi language, it's become somewhat of a catchall term for Indian films. IIFA organizers say the Indian industry sells 3.6 billion movie tickets a year, about a quarter of them in the U.S.
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