Melbourne: Filmmaker Karan Johar, actors Sushant Singh Rajput, Konkana Sen Sharma and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan emerged as big winners at the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne (IFFM) awards. Johar was honoured with the leadership in cinema award.
"I feel so blessed... especially to be a part of this absolutely amazing year, to be nominated with films like 'Dangal', 'Pink' and 'Baahubali', which I felt so proud to be
associated with in a tiny way," Johar said. The fest will screen Johar's latest movie "Ae Dil Hai Mushkil" along with 60 other films.The director will also hold a special masterclass. Sushant was named best actor for his role in "M S Dhoni: The Untold Story", while the best actress honour went to "Lipstick Under My Burkha" star Konkona.
"I'm extremely honoured and grateful to IFFM and the jury for appreciating my performance. The last time when I was in Melbourne, I was dancing behind Bollywood stars as a background dancer at the Commonwealth Games event. Today being recognised as the best actor feels great," Sushant said.
The award for excellence in global cinema was given to Aishwarya. "I would like to dedicate the honour to every talent, every director who believed in me and gave me the opportunity to do the kind of work that I have done in cinema," she said.
Nitesh Tiwari won the best director award for "Dangal" and also shared the people's choice award with "Baahubali 2: The Conclusion"."I would like to take this opportunity to thank people all over the world for giving so much love to 'Dangal'. It is the first international award for the film," Tiwari said.
Rahul Bose-directed film "Poorna" won the equality in cinema award, while the best film gong went to Amitabh Bachchan-starrer "Pink". "Lion" director Garth Davis won the diversity award this year and the fest's opening night film "Lipstick Under My Burkha" won the best indie film award. Singers Akriti, Prakriti and Sukriti Kakar performed during the award ceremony, which also featured a special performance by children and young adults with down syndrome.
As a special annual feature of the fest, Aishwarya also hoisted the Indian flag along with Indian High Commissioner A M Gondane, Melbourne Consul General Manika Jain and festival director Mitu Bhowmick Lange at the Federation Square building to celebrate the 70th Indian Independence Day. The 43-year-old actor, who was accompanied with her five-year-old daughter Aaradhya, said it was a moment that she will never forget. She is the first Indian woman do get this honour.
The 13-day long fest will culminate on August 22 with the screening of Raveena Tandon's film "Shab" and "Tramjatra", a documentary which details the unexpected and incredible relationship struck between Melbournian tram conductor Roberto D'Andrea and Kolkata'sTrammie community of Kolkata, India.