Bollywood actress Katrina Kaif at the IIFA Rocks of the 20th International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Awards at NSCI Dome in Mumbai last year. (Photo by INDRANIL MUKHERJEE / AFP) (Photo credit should read INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP/Getty Images)

Bollywood on Friday (6) called off its Oscars night, the International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) awards, because of the spreading coronavirus.

Organisers of the Indian cinema’s biggest awards ceremony said they had to postpone the three-day event in Indore starting March 27 because of the “sensitivity” of the mounting health crisis.

Bollywood’s biggest names including Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif were due to attend the gala where Gully Boy, an international hit about a Mumbai rapper, was favourite for the top awards.

Organisers said in a statement the decision to call off the show was taken “with due regard to growing concerns” around the spread of COVID-19, while keeping the health and safety of fans and the general community.

“A fresh date and plans for hosting IIFA in Madhya Pradesh will be announced at the earliest,” it added.

With nearly 1,800 titles released in 2018, India is the world’s biggest film industry in terms of movies made and is now a major exporter.

After using venues in several countries and other Indian cities, the 2019 IIFA returned to the Bollywood capital in Mumbai.

But the government has warned against holding mass gatherings because of the virus, which has infected 30 people in India so far.

Many conferences, celebrations for next week’s Holi religious festival and public events have been cancelled in recent days.

More than 3,300 people have died worldwide from the virus.