Rather than do the Bachchans a gross disservice, their separation from IIFA is a blessing in disguise. Explains Sabbas Joseph of Wizcraft, “Every time a member of one family won an award or presented an event, there would be a hue and cry about one family monopolizing IIFA. This was so unfair. How many awards did Mr. Bachchan and his family win in the ten years of IIFA’s existence? He got one for Black which he collected and another for Paa (in Sri Lanka) which he did not attend.”
Sabbas insists the Bachchans are an integral part of IIFA even now. “We’d like nothing better than to have them attend in Toronto as guests. Mr. Bachchan has added invaluably to IIFA. But now the brand doesn’t really need an ambassador.”
The separation of Amitabh Bachchan from the International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) has sent shock waves across the film industry.
After the Big B tweeted his inability to be part of IIFA any more a young A-lister actor on condition of anonymity said, “Mr. Bachchan not being part of the IIFA is unthinkable. He built the whole IIFA dream from the scratch along with Wizcraft. I don’t know whether I’ll attend IIFA anymore.”
However a source close to the Big B sneers at such display of despair and solidarity. “Everyone will go, you watch. Mr Bachchan’s absence makes no difference to anyone. After ten years they decided they didn’t need him anymore. The seeds of discord were sown last year when Salman Khan happily stepped into Mr. Bachchan’s place in Sri Lanka. When Wizcraft opened their ‘Kingdom Of Dreams’ theatre in Gurgaon (Delhi), they didn’t ask Mr Bachchan to inaugurate it. Now we have Akshay Kumar who is a citizen of Canada. He will be the brand Ambassador for IIFA in Toronto this year.”
Sabbas Joseph – Director Wizcraft, insists there is no brand ambassadorship for IIFA any more, “Last year at Sri Lanka Salman represented the ‘Habitat For Harmony’, not IIFA. That’s the kind of pocket-representation we are looking at now at IIFA. We would not even have announced that Mr. Bachchan is no more the brand ambassador if he had not tweeted about it. To us it makes no difference whether he is the official brand ambassador or not. Our relationship with Mr. Bachchan and his family remains unchanged. No one can deny what an important part he has played in giving a shape and direction to the event.”
Sabbas thinks the IIFA doesn’t need a brand ambassador any more. “You are the first person I am actually talking to on this subjectâ€¦why not a brand ambassador? I think by not having a brand ambassador we will eliminate the chances of one important member of the industry being made responsible for all the controversies and issues related to the event. Now if a group or a community decides to protest about an issue in a country where we host our event there’s no Fall Guy, no one to make unnecessarily answerable for everything that goes wrong or seems to go wrong. Instead of bringing members of Bollywood together, the presence of a brand ambassador was isolating them. What the abolition of the post of brand ambassador will do is it will allow a more collective spirit at IIFA. This year at Toronto, we expect stars representing more causes and activities than during earlier years.”