Victoria in talks to bring ‘Oscars of Bollywood’ to Melbourne

Sydney: The government of Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu is in the hunt to bring an event dubbed ‘‘the Oscars of Bollywood’’ to Melbourne, but success could come at a huge cost with organizers, suggesting the bill to taxpayers could be as high as 18 million dollars.

The International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Awards is the property of Indian events’ company, Wizcraft and this year, it was held in Singapore held last weekend.

The campaign to bring the IIFA to Melbourne is part of a six-point policy announced by Baillieu prior to the election in November 2010, and was designed to ‘‘build better links with Bollywood’’ in a commitment to ‘‘initiating a bid by the Victorian Major Events Corporation’’ for the awards to be held in the Victorian capital.

Also on the list was a promise to fund a Bollywood film festival, the Indian Film Festival Melbourne, which will receive 450,000 dollars in government funding over three years, beginning on Monday. A spokesman for the government confirmed this week that the pursuit was ongoing.

“The International Indian Film Academy awards are still under active consideration and the minister will make an announcement in due course,’’ a leading daily has quoted the spokesman, as saying.

However, it is understood that the Victorian Major Events Company (VMEC) is hesitant to back the awards because of the event’s hefty price tag. The IIFA 2011 was held in Toronto, at a cost of approximately 36 million dollars.

According to Ashish Chawla, co-director (with Ash Mehta) of KlubSutra, the Brisbane-based company acting as the Australian agent for Wizcraft, the Victorian Government would be expected to contribute a little less than half the cost of staging the event.
“We are only asking 15-18 million dollars, depending on what the Victorian Major Events Company wants to get delivered,” Chawla said.

The VMEC did not respond to requests for comment.