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Scalpers move in on Toronto's IIFA Awards

Chase Constantino and Kalpita Desai, CIBC / IIFA Bollywood Dance Move Winners. The finale was staged in Toronto, which is the first North American city to host the event.

Hand-out/CNW Group/CIBC

Scalpers are taking advantage of the high demand for tickets to the International Indian Film Academy Awards ceremony, pushing resale prices upwards of $1,000.

The IIFA Awards, also known as the "Bollywood Oscars," are part of a three-day celebration of Indian cinema that will take place in venues across Toronto from June 23 to 25. Hosted at the Rogers Centre, the ceremony is the weekend's big-ticket event.

Toronto is the first North American city chosen to host the IIFA festivities since they began in 2000 - and it seems diehard fans are willing to pay the price of attending.

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Shelina, a 25-year-old reseller in Edmonton, anticipated the event's popularity, and purchased tickets from Ticketmaster and Tourism Toronto when they went on sale in January. Shelina initially bought the tickets for friends, but decided to resell them once they could no longer attend. She said she sold close to 100 tickets, and made a profit of "probably a couple thousand [dollars]"

"Initially, I knew that the demand would be there because it [will be]the first time that IIFA is happening in North America," said Shelina, who did not want her last name used. "North American Indians ... definitely have an interest in Bollywood, and they definitely have an interest in attending these types of events."

Azmatali Mehrali, 42, said his wife Naila, 41, is a big Bollywood fan. The Woodbridge, Ont., couple were not able to buy tickets in January because they were sold out. Now Mehrali is scouring online websites like Craigslist, Kijiji and eBay to find scalpers who are willing to sell. Mehrali has seen tickets advertised for as much as $1,400 each, but said he is only willing to pay $650 for two tickets at most.

Despite the demand, Mehrali said he doubts buyers are willing to spend too much.

"I buy tickets from hockey games all the time. I know how the market works. Believe me - if I wait long enough, the price will even come down lower," he said. "I know this community, and Indian people won't pay that kind of money.

"People barely pay that for a hockey game in the Stanley Cup final. Think about it. People aren't going to pay that."

But that's not stopping resellers from asking for top dollar, often doubling or even tripling the original face value of the tickets.

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The original price of tickets for the IIFA awards ranged from $49 to $295, depending on seating in the Rogers Centre.

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