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Maniesh Paul, Salman Khan and Riteish Deshmukh at the IIFA Awards press conference in Abu Dhabi on June 2. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Top Bollywood star Salman Khan got the much-anticipated International Indian Film Academy Awards (IIFA) show on the road with his trademark brand of caustic humour at a star-studded press conference in Abu Dhabi on June 2.

The ‘Tiger Zinda Hai’ actor was in a wicked mood as he made fun of the over-enthusiastic host and asked him to dial down his hyper excited voice.

“I have enjoyed a long relation with IIFA … These guys have started exploiting me since childhood and it’s fine … But I am glad the awards night is happening in Abu Dhabi because I have a deep connect to this city. I have found a lot of success here and I have done many movies here,” said Khan.

Khan, one of India’s most influential stars, will host the awards night on June 4 at the Etihad Arena.

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Shahid Kapoor, Tiger Shroff, Ananya Panday and Riteish Deshmukh at the IIFA Awards press conference in Abu Dhabi on June 2. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Joining him on stage were his younger peers such as Nora Fatehi, Sara Ali Khan, Ananya Panday, Shahid Kapoor, Riteish Deshmukh and Tiger Shroff.

Kapoor, who will be one of the star performers of the IIFA night, claimed he was nervous for his first stage performance after several years. He will be dancing alongside actress Nora Fatehi. He also added that he will do a special tribute to late singer Bappi Lahiri, who died in February this year.

“The last time I danced on stage for an audience was for the IIFAs in New York. I am excited and nervous. In the last three days of rehearsals, I realised that I am a bit rusty … Come on Nora, make me look good. People may think I am a great dancer, but it’s still not easy,” said Kapoor.

Actor Tiger Shroff, who’s known for his stunt sequences and nimble dancing skills, kept his statement relatively short and sweet.

“They have paid me a lot of money so I am really happy to be back at the IIFAs again … But jokes aside, I am nervous about performing on stage after a long time and it’s such a privilege,” said Shroff.

Kapoor and Shroff weren’t alone in their nervousness. Actress and ‘Student Of The Year 2’ star Ananya Panday, who will be performing for the first time at the IIFAs, claimed she was equally on edge.

“I am a fan of everyone who’s on stage right now. I am shaking right now. This is my life’s first-ever live performance. I have always followed every IIFA in the past,” said Panday.

Actor Riteish Deshmukh, who joked that he was as old as the IIFA trophy itself, thanked the awards for taking a chance on him as a host 12 years ago. Deshmukh and Maneish Paul will co-host the June 4 event with Khan.

“I was scared of stage and had huge stage fright but they gave me a golden chance … I have been hosting IIFA for the last seven or eight years. But what makes it special is that I will be hosting it with Salman Bhau … I am on your side bhau [brother],” said Deshmukh.

For the next two days, a galaxy of Bollywood stars will descend upon Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Arena for the two-day awards night. Billed as Bollywood’s Oscars, the night will be a celebration of Indian cinema.

The press conference was also attended by Hans Fraikin, Film and Television Commissioner at Abu Dhabi Film Commission, and IIFA representatives such as Noreen Khan, the vice president of IIFA 2022.

Tickets to the IIFA weekend are on sale and are priced at Dh110, Dh220, Dh330, Dh440, Dh550, Dh1,000 and Dh1,350. They will be available through the venue’s official website, www.etihadarena.ae/en/box-office, while fans can also head to yasisland.ae to snap up a travel package.