Tamils protest as Bollywood goes to Sri Lanka

MUMBAI, June 1, 2010 (AFP) – Bollywood goes to Sri Lanka later this week for its glitzy annual awards ceremony, but the decision to hold the event in the capital Colombo has sparked a backlash from minority Tamils in India. The International Indian Film Academy (IIFA), which has been held overseas every year since 2000, begins on Thursday and is designed to celebrate the popular Hindi-language film industry and win new audiences abroad.

The secretary to Sri Lanka’s tourism ministry, George Michael, said the three-day festival was a “wonderful opportunity to showcase the unique and exotic aspects of Sri Lanka to the rest of the world”.

IIFA says it will help “bridge boundaries” between the neighbouring countries, helping to promote discussion on economic and political issues in the wake of Sri Lanka’s civil war that ended a year ago.

But Tamil opposition has grown ever since the venue was announced in April and some top Bollywood stars may not attend to avoid controversy.

Opponents argue that far from providing a post-conflict economic boost and being a positive statement for the war-torn island, Bollywood’s presence in Sri Lanka legitimises President Mahinda Rajapakse’s government.

Rajapakse is unde