Bollywood stars visit campus



Bollywood film stars Priyanka Chopra and Anil Kapoor walked up the pathway, 51 minutes after they were expected to arrive, to USF’s Patel Center of Global Sustainability on Tuesday night to the sound of more than 300 screaming fans.

Posing for pictures with USF students as they walked around a gated area set up in front of the Patel Center, the celebrities were welcomed from Drs. Kiran and Pallavi Patel, the namesakes of the Patel Center, and USF President Judy Genshaft. In town to promote the launch of ticket sales for the 14th annual International Indian Film Academy Awards that will be hosted in Tampa in April, the celebrities stopped at USF to plant trees. 

The two actors planted two trees in front of the Patel Center to unite the Indian film industry and USF’s efforts of environmental sustainability. 

“It’s our world, our earth, we look after it,” Chopra said to the audience.  “We are really, really proud from the movie film industry, the Hindi film industry, from Anil and me and everybody else who can’t be here.”

Genshaft said the partnership between USF and the Bollywood film industry could help bring about environmental change. 

“Tampa is deeply honored to be the very first United States city to host these awards known as the ‘Oscars of Bollywood,'” she said. “Today we are commemorating your visit in our shared commitment to sustainability by doing one of my favorite things and that is planting trees – not only to provide shade and beauty to our campus but to help offset the carbon footprint of our busy university.”

Chopra, an actress and singer known for her Miss World 2000 title, and Kapoor, known for his various movie roles such as in the Academy Award winning film “Slumdog Millionaire,” assisted in planting the trees before leaving about 20 minutes after arriving. 

Reshma Pinnamaneni, a sophomore majoring in biomedical science and the publicity coordinator of India Association at USF, attended and volunteered at Tuesday’s planting event, putting stakes into the ground.  

“They are legendary,” she said of Chopra and Kapoor. “Probably some of the best known Indian stars. I grew up watching their movies.”

The International Indian Film Academy Awards will be held in Tampa on April 26. 

There will also be Bollywood-themed events throughout the week of the awards show, such as a dance festival in Curtis Hixon Park. Tickets for the awards range from $93 to $3,295 through Ticketmaster and packages go up to $25,000.