The New York Indian Film Festival (NYIFF) announced the winners of its competition categories at a ceremony at the prestigious Skirball Center, in the final event for the monumental festival, which ran April 30 – May 4.
The winners were chosen from 18 narrative, 10 documentaries (feature length or shorter) and 8 shorts from the Indian subcontinent and its diaspora.
Top honors were awarded to Anumati directed by Gajendra Ahire, for Best Feature Film as well as Best Actor in a Feature Film for Vikram Gokhale’s impressive turn as a desperate husband, Ratnakar, on a mission to save his dying wife. The award for Best Feature Film was jointly presented by Consul General of India, Ambassador Mulay and Ambassador Manjeev Puri. Top Chef judge Padma Lakshmi presented the Best Actor award.
Director Hansal Mehta took home the Best Director of a Feature Film award for his compelling film Shahid, which traces the true story of slain human rights activist lawyer Shahid Azmi. The director, in addition to receiving an award, presented an award that night, alongside Farooque Sheikh, to the Best Young Actor in a Feature Film. Suraj Negi was honored for his role as the titular character in Hansa.
Deepti Naval was also honored in her role as Leela Krishnamoorthy, a middle aged widow, in debut filmmaker Avinash Kumar Singh’s Listen Amaya. This film reunited Farooque Sheikh and Deepti Naval as a romantic screen pair after over two decades. The award was fittingly presented by renowned actor Aasif Mandvi and beloved actress Sarita Choudhury.
Respected Malayalam cinema filmmaker/writer Dr. Biju was awarded for Best Screenplay by presenter Monica Dogra for his vision in Kashathinte Niram (Color of Sky), and the Best Documentary award went to The Only Real Game, directed by Mirra Bank, with the award presented by Sujata Thakur, Incredible India.
Best Short Film went to Khaana, directed by Cary Sawhney. The award was presented by House of Cards actress Sakina Jaffrey.
This year the Festival also had an award for the one-minute cell phone Bollywood short film. Created under the supervision of Professor Karl Bardosh, NYU students were tasked with creating Music Videos to popular Bollywood sound tracks, culminating in an impressive batch of viral mobile films, all in consideration for the esteemed award.
Yi Su was presented with the prize, by Professor Karl Bardosh himself, for his one-minute Gangnam/Bollywood mashup.
“We are so happy to honor these talented filmmakers for their achievements,” said Aroon Shivdasani, IAAC founder.
“These films left me thinking about its themes and subjects well after the screening itself,” commented NYIFF’s film festival director Aseem Chhabra. “This year’s line-up made it difficult to choose just one award winner per category.”
The jurors who were challenged to select the award recipients for each category were comprised of today’s most revered filmmakers, scholars, and industry leaders, including La Frances Hui, Claus Mueller, Muriel (Mike) Peters, Zenobia Shroff, Parag Amladi, Ashish Avikunthak, Tejaswini Ganti, Udayan Gupta, Joseph Mathew, Myrna Moncayo-Iyengar, Jaideep Punjabi, and Nilita Vachani. The voting process was audited by the respected firm, KPMG.
A star-studded after party, which included presenters, winners, jurors, and guests, immediately followed the awards ceremony.
Below is the full list of winners as well as the presenters who honored the recipients with an award:
NYIFF CLOSING CEREMONY (Photo Credit – Fahim Feroj of NYDreams)
BEST FEATURE FILM (Narrative) – Anumati, directed by Gajendra Ahire. The award was jointly presented by Consul General of India, Ambassador Mulay and Ambassador Manjeev Puri.
BEST DIRECTOR OF A FEATURE FILM (Narrative) – Hansal Mehta for Shahid. The award was presented to the director by Feroz Khan and Avinash Kumar Singh.
BEST ACTOR IN A FEATURE FILM – Vikram Gokhale as Ratnakar in Anumati, winner of Best Feature Film, directed by Gajendra Ahire. The award was presented by Padma Lakshmi.
BEST ACTRESS IN A FEATURE FILM – Deepti Naval as Leela Krishnamoorthy, a middle aged widow, in debut filmmaker Avinash Kumar Singh’s Listen Amaya. This award was presented by actor Aasif Mandvi & actress Sarita Choudhury
BEST YOUNG ACTOR IN A FEATURE FILM – Suraj Negi in Hansa. The award was presented by Hansal Mehta andFarooque Sheikh.
BEST SCREENPLAY – Dr. Biju for Kashathinte Niram (Color of Sky). The award was presented by Monica Dogra.
BEST DOCUMENTARY FILM – The Only Real Game, directed by Mirra Bank. The award was presented by Sujata Thakur, Incredible India.
BEST SHORT FILM – Khaana, directed by Cary Sawhney. The award was presented by Sakina Jaffrey.
BEST ONE MINUTE CELL PHONE FILM: Bollywood Style directed by Yi Su. The award was presented by Professor Karl Bardosh.