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ITFA ceremony in Malaysia

THE INDIAN film industry produces 800 films every year, the largest number in the world, sells six billion tickets worldwide and grosses $200 millions. The Tamil film industry, which takes the major share of the cake, was largely overlooked till The International Tamil Film Awards (ITFA), hosted by Seventh Channel ensured a global platform for films of the State. The award ceremony, first edition, held at the Genting Highlands, Malaysia, along with Astro showcased Tamil cinema. The best of Tamil industry had gathered at the Arena of Stars and the organiser, Seventh Channel Narayanan, pointed out that ``the idea of holding an award ceremony like this outside India, is really to bring to the notice of those who have been patronising Tamil cinema, that we are now very visible and watchable, and in the years to come this visibility will grow.''

The awards are conferred after a procedure that is elaborate and free of bias. The procedure involves a compilation of the box office hits in the popular and technical categories, which are given to a selection committee within the film industry. The chosen ones then go up for voting on the Internet. Price Water House Coopers, who incidentally are also the auditors for the Oscars and IIFA, conducted the official audit for the ITFA awards.

The Genting Highlands, called the `City of Entertainment', was full of Tamils for all the three award nights from October 11 to 13. The awards brought in people from different parts of the world like South Africa, UAE, Australia, US, UK and Sri Lanka. October 12 was an evening of song, dance and glamour. Vikram got the best actor award while Simran bagged the best actress prize. Vivek was the best comedian and Prakash Raj was the best character actor. Srikanth was adjudged the best new face (male) and Anuradha Sriram was the best female singer. The popular actor and actress award were also given. Here is how the winners view the awards:

Vikram : . The ITFA has given the ceremony a different perspective. For the first time we are being honoured in a foreign country for our work. Tamilians from all over the world have converged at one place, making it a truly global event. People voted through the Internet. When I got the ITFA for best actor, I was thrilled and thanked my parents, the directors with whom I worked and my fans. Seventh Channel Narayanan must be appreciated for making it a memorable occasion.

Simran : When I came to know that I had won the best actress award for "Kannathil Muthamittal", I was overjoyed. It is one of the best characters I have played in recent times and director Mani Ratnam gave me the opportunity. . Although, I did not get anaward for the role at other film festivals, yet theknowledgeable Tamil people, the world over, have voted for me. This makes the award a memorable one for me. When Seventh Channel Narayanan told me about the function a few months ago, I never thought I would win.

Prakash Raj : At the first ITFA show, Narayanan and his crew of young people took good care of us, from the time we landed till we boarded the flight back home. When I arrived in Chennai, I was surprised to be received bysomeone from Seventh Channel who offered to arrange a car to take me home. He was with me till I left the airport. I was treated like a king. I have attended many shows, but have never experienced this kind of hospitality. ITFA was also different in its selection of winners. I had the privilege of receiving the best character actor award.

Anooradha Sriram : Getting an award in a foreign country is a memorable experience. I was happy to see some of my singer friends and we all travelled together on the same flight. For all of us the good time started from the moment the flight took off. When I got the award it was double joy. The ITFA is an unforgettable event for me.

Srikanth : I feel that this award is a prestigious one not only for me but also for the Tamil film industry as a whole. I am happy that Tamil films are now going places. My first trip abroad was for the release of "April Mathathil" in Malaysia. When I went there again for the ITFA show, it was an enjoyable experience. I did not feel that I was in a foreign country as I saw many Tamilians who appreciated my work. For the first time, Tamil fans from all over the world, voted and selectedthe award winners. I feel elated by it, as I received it in the company of my well-wishers and friends from the film fraternity. I must thank the organiser for making it possible for me.

Vivek : The ITFA award is a blessing in disguise for me. I came to know that I had won after gettingmore votes than my rival. Another important aspect was how the Malaysian Government treated us by giving the best hotels and transport (it was Benz car for me). Malaysian Minister Datto Samyvelu told me that he is my ardent fan and he used to watch some of my comedy pieces before going to bed at night. He also prepared a special Malaysian tea and gave it to me. I think that was really a great honour.


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