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Glitz and glamour in Tampa: Indian celebrities on hand for 'Bollywood Oscars'

TAMPA, Fla. - Hollywood stars John Travolta and Kevin Spacey appeared on the green carpet Saturday with Bollywood stars in front of thousands of fans before an extravagant awards show that celebrates the best in Indian cinema.

The International Indian Film Academy awards — informally known as the "Bollywood Oscars," — are being held in the United States for the first time.

Some 20,000 people are expected to attend the show Saturday night at Raymond James Stadium.

Travolta, Spacey and dozens of Indian film stars including Deepika Padukone walked slowly past hordes of international media outside the stadium on Saturday night prior to the awards. Unlike the Academy Awards, IIFA uses a green carpet instead of a red one.

Travolta, who will be honoured with an award, posed for photos with his arm around actress Priyanka Chopra.

During a packed news conference Saturday afternoon, the Oscar winner said he is currently considering a role in a Bollywood movie.

"I cannot deny music and dance in my life," he told reporters. "It is part of my soul. This is part of most of Bollywood's films and I agree with it."

Whether the "Saturday Night Fever" and "Grease" actor dances onstage Saturday night remains to be seen.

Also on Saturday afternoon, 'House of Cards' star Kevin Spacey held a master acting class with Chopra.

When asked what he thought about Hollywood and Bollywood working together, Spacey made the crowd of 300 roar with his answer:

"Well, it's about (expletive) time," he said.

The awards cap off four days of well-attended events, much to the delight of Tampa tourism authorities and lovers of Indian film and culture. The event has drawn the biggest Indian celebrities, including Deepika Padukone, Anil Kapoor and Hrithik Roshan.

The contenders for Best Picture are Dhoom 3, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, Krrish 3, Chennai Express, Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, Goliyon Ki Rasleela-Ramleela and Kai Po Che.

"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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Follow Tamara Lush on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tamaralush

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