With 800 Million Expected to Watch, Bollywood’s Oscars Dwarfs the Real Thing

Who does Hollywood bigger than Hollywood? India.

With its glitzy, spectacular, over the top movie-making known as Bollywood, the award goes to them.

Exploding in popularity over the last couple decades, this cultural phenomenon actually produces more films than Hollywood.

And now Bollywood is invading America.

In April, the International Indian Film Academy Awards were held in Tampa, Fla., bringing the nation’s biggest stars to their version of the red carpet… which is actually green.

It was their fifteenth anniversary, and first time the event was held in the United States – with previous editions having been held in other cities around the world such as Singapore, Dubai, Amsterdam and Toronto. The event filled Raymond James Stadium – with its 65,000 seats – to the brim with mostly American, mostly crazed fans.

The show will be broadcast today, June 8, to an estimated 800 million viewers in 110 countries, according to the IIFA.

In many ways, it’s their own version of the Oscars, with Hollywood actors in tow – like Kevin Spacey, and John Travolta.

“I find the Indian films very original in energy and life,” Travolta told Fusion. “It captures your attention differently than other films, but there is a universal theme that cannot be denied.”

But India treats its own stars better than anyone does.

Deepika Padukone was a featured dancer at this year’s ceremony. She’s got more than six million twitter followers, and films like Chennai Express and Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela have made her so famous back home she can’t even walk through an Indian town without being mobbed.

Indian movies tend to downplay violence. The key to a good Bollywood movie isn’t high drama, it’s the spectacular upbeat dance-extravaganzas. The trend began in 1975, with the Indian classic Sholay. Since then, the industry has grown year after year.

So who sells more tickets? Surprisingly, India does.

Bollywood is on the rise – with its monster sellers like Chennai Express, a road picture where boy meets girl and hijinks ensue in the middle of huge dance numbers.

Every year, three billion tickets are sold in India. That’s more than double the 1.3 billion tickets sold by Hollywood’s own movie producers.

Shiamak Davar is a guru of Indian dance, and largely responsible for the splash and dash that is Bollywood. He is known by his first name, like Beyonce.

Shiamak directed the seven musicals that dominated the Indian Oscars. His dance troupe brought more than 140 bags of costumes on their trip from Mumbai to outfit 90 dancers.

“Our festivals are full of song and dance, our marriages are full of song and dance, so everything is about street dance…it’s part of the culture,” Shiamak explained. “A mixture of reality and Bollywood. It’s wild.”