"SAIFTA is a platform to grow tourism industry -- from India to South Africa, and more importantly a platform to encourage more film-production in South Africa," Naidoo said on Thursday at a press conference.

There are more prolific film industries like Hollywood, so why the focus is on India?

"Research shows that the Indian film industry is the largest filmmaking country in the world. Then there is a natural connection between the two countries.

"South Africa has the largest Indian Diasporas outside India with 1.1 million Indians living and a greater population lives in Durban area," said Naidoo, who has his roots in India as his ancestors migrated from the southern part of India.

A brainchild of Kedhar Gawde of Celebrity Locker, SAIFTA is a three-year initiative. It has been organized in collaboration with the Kwa Zulu-Natal Department of Economic Development and Tourism of Durban.

"This is the first year and every year we will review it and take a decision," Naidoo said when asked about making it an annual event.

A barrage of Bollywood actors and filmmakers has flown in from Mumbai to join in the celebrations of SAIFTA AwardS.

The press event was attended by well-known filmmaker Mukesh Bhatt of Vishesh Films, actress-filmmaker Dia Mirza, new entrant Siddharth Malhotra and TV actor host Manish Paul, who is set to make Bollywood debut with "Mickey Virus".

The award ceremony will be co-hosted by Karan Johar and Dia Mirza. Legendary actress Waheeda Rehman, actor Boman Irani, filmmaker Farah Khan, and producer Mukesh Bhatt formed the judges' panel and decided on the best talent.

The South Africa India Film and Television Awards, organized by Mumbai-based event management company Celebrity Locker, will focus on enhancing the exchange of cultural elements of the Indian and South African entertainment industry.
In the last couple of years, quite a few Bollywood hits like "Race", "Cocktail" and "Aashiqui 2" captured the scenic locales in the country and thus prompting tourists to explore it. Some of the destinations that most Indian filmmakers captured are Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban.

(Agencies)

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