There had been a constant decline in the number of Bollywood celebrities visiting New Zealand for stage shows and concerts in last few years.

But 2017 was a complete compensation for all those years—from A.R. Rahman to Salman Khan, and Sonakshi Sinha, some of the top Bollywood stars visiting Auckland this year, it was literally an eventful year.

As we get ready to welcome another eventful year, let’s take a quick look at events that highlighted 2017.

Dabangg-The Tour: April 21

The year started with the biggest-ever Bollywood show in New Zealand--Dabangg The Tour. Lead by superstar Salman Khan, the show featured some of the top Bollywood artists including Sonakshi Sinha, Bipasha Basu, Prabhu Deva, Badshah and Daisy Shah. It was like watching an award show such as IIFA (but sans awards) live.

The event was the biggest Bollywood show in NZ in many ways- the biggest production, the biggest-star cast, biggest audience, the biggest crew for and the highest sales. The audience was overall happy with the show because unlike in previous shows, they could see the lead star Salman Khan perform for a long-enough time.

Most of the stars were performing in NZ for the first time and the show was a full-house. It was undoubtedly the biggest highlight of the year for NZ Bollywood lovers.The show was organised by RS Promotions, Auckland.

The Indian Weekender got a chance to talk to Khan during the tour. You can watch it here.

AR Rahman’s Yesterday, today, tomorrow: October 6

Certainly, the biggest Indian musician of this century, the legendary composer A.R. Rahman visited the country for the first time. It was a dream-come-true for his thousands of fans living in New Zealand.

He led a team of singers/musicians which included- Neeti Mohan, Jonita Gandhi, Benny Dayal, Haricharan, Ranjit Barrot and Mohini Dey. And believe me, each one of them was a real gem. I could listen to them the entire day.

While the general response of the audience was that of loving the concert, the show was criticized by some for having more Tamil songs over Hindi. But honestly, I felt no difference. I don’t understand any south Indian language but I enjoyed those songs equally.

The Mozart of Madras, the Oscar-winning music composer celebrated 25-years of his music through his world-tour concert- Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow. The show was organised by Polux Media Ltd., India.

We got an opportunity to talk to the legend who is a man of a few words. You can watch the entire interview here.

Rahat Fateh Ali Khan: August 12

Rahat Fateh Ali Khan performed in Auckland this year for ‘The Tribute Tour’ in remembrance of his uncle and legendary musician Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.

The popularity of the artist could be determined from the fact that the show was sold out at least a week before the show. The concert was organised by Aaria Events, NZ and was well worth the money.

Amit Tandon Show: June 10

This show was an unexpected blockbuster. The stand-up comedy show featuring Indian comedian Amit Tandon, was probably the first of its kind in Auckland. The show was sold-out a week before.

The entertainment level was also higher than expected. It was a true laughter-riot as the audience seen laughing throughout the show. The show was organised by The Indian Weekender and Humm Fm.

Neha Kakkar: July 28

Looks like it was the year of firsts.Kakkar siblings- Sonu, Neha and Tony also visited NZ for the first time.

The artists are quite popular back home but the show could not garner much audience here in Auckland.

Punjabi Virsa: August 19

Punjabi Virsa returned after two years. The concert-franchise of the musician Waris brothers- Manmohan Waris, Kamal Heer and Sangtar have been quite popular with the NRI audience. And it was evident this year too as it was a near houseful show.

Alka Yagnik: September 30

Aucklanders were in for a nostalgic evening when the melody queen of Bollywood Alka Yagnik came down-under and performed with renowned music composer Sharavan of Nadeem-Shravan fame. The show was loved by the audience who came in good numbers to watch their favourite superstars.

 

Jasmine Sandlas-Amrit Maan: September 29

The Punjabi singer duo also came to Auckland this year. While Amrit Maan had performed here before as well, it was the first time for Jasmine Sandlas here. The show was high on energy and good in audience numbers. 

Satinder Sartaaj: September 22

Satinder Sartaaj tours NZ almost every year and is appreciated for the quality of his music and poetry. Even though this year was not a full house, but the audience appreciated the show equally as the quality was up to the par.

Kiwi Indian Hall of Fame: June 8

Among non-commercial events, the highlight was the Kiwi Indian Hall of Fame- The Indian Weekender’s signature event and biggest formal event of the Indian community. The event was much grander and bigger this year with crème de la crème of New Zealand attending the gala night.

While the chief guests for the event were the then Prime Minister Bill English and Union Minister of State for External Affairs Gen VK Singh, the touch of Bollywood added that extra effect to the event when heartthrob singer-composer duo Armaan and Amaal Malik performed at the show. The comedian Amit Tandon was the emcee of the event.

Former Mayor of Dunedin Sukhi Turner was inducted into the Hall of Fame, while Thakor Prabhu and Shail Kaushal were the winners of Community Service Excellence and Young Achiever, respectively.

See the entire pictures album of the event here: http://bit.ly/2p5DfR7

Lights of India & India @70: August 15 and 19

It was a historic moment when the Indian Independence Day was celebrated in Auckland on such a large scale by illuminating an iconic monument in tri-colour. It was indeed a proud moment for every Indian living in Auckland seeing the Auckland Museum lit up in Indian flag colours.

It was so good to see that at an event that was planned and announced less than a week before the event, saw a huge gathering who were all there to celebrate the spirit of India and ‘Indianism’.

The I-day celebrations were extended with another event on the weekend on August 19 where two performing arts groups visited from India. Dwi music band and Dhwani dance group reflected the Indian colours through their dance and music, while local performance groups were symbolic of that fact that NRIs are equally passionate about and devoted to their mother-land India. The Indian High Commission should truly be commended for making all these efforts for us to stay connected with our roots.

Auckland Diwali Festival/Mr & Ms Diwali: 15-16 October

Last but certainly not the least, the Auckland Diwali Festival—the largest informal event in the Indian community—was even bigger this year. The number of attendees rose to twice than last year reaching up to 60k visitors. From food to entertainment and culture, the two-day extravaganza never fails to disappoint.

This year’s Indian Weekender Mr & Ms Diwali contest saw some great talents and the best amongst them emerged winners. This year’s winners were Anchal Marwah (Mr Diwali) and Sonia Mehta (Ms Diwali).

You can see the entire picture album here: http://bit.ly/2BjZ7Kk