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Sushant, Konkona, Lipstick Under My Burkha win big at Indian Film Festival Melbourne

The gala event saw Lipstick Under My Burkha walk away with the award for Best Indie Film, while Nitesh Tiwari won the Best Director award for Dangal (2016).

Konkona Sensharma at IFFM in Australia

Shriram Iyengar

The Indian Film Festival Melbourne Awards 2017 held on the night of 11 August, was a star-studded gala event. With the presence of stars like Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Sushant Singh Rajput, Konkona Sensharma, and director Nitesh Tiwari, the festival kicked off to a grand start.

Aishwarya who was present at the event and was awarded with the Westpac IFFM Excellence in Global Cinema Award. The actress thanked the hosts saying, "I'm so humbled and filed with gratitude to be given this award. We as creative people always wish to do more and I'm far far away from resting. As an artist I have so much more to explore but it's great to have this honour. But above all I must thank the fans, who have loved me so immensely and it's because of you we get to live our dream, our passion ".

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan accepting the WESTPAC IFFM Excellence award at the Indian Film Festival Melbourne 2017

Indian Film Festival Melbourne is celebrating diversity in cinema, and saw a screening of close to 60 films from the sub-continent. The event opened with an energising performance by the Kakkar sisters — Akriti, Prakriti and Sukriti.

Among the big winners at the event were Alankrita Shrivastava's film Lipstick Under My Burkha (2017), which won the award for Best Indie Film. Actress Konkona Sensharma also won the Best Actress award for her performance in Shrivastava's film.

Sushant Singh Rajput walked away with the award for Best Actor for his performance in M.S. Dhoni: An Untold Story (2016), while Rajkummar Rao won a Best Actor (Special Mention) award for his brilliant performance in Trapped (2016).

Sushant Singh Rajput with IFFM festival director Mitu Bhowmick-Lange at the Indian Film Festival Melbourne 2017

Expressing his happiness to receive the award, Rajput said, "Thank you so so much. I'm so honoured. Last time I was in Melbourne it was in 2006 was the Commonwealth Games where I was a backup dancer for the so so beautiful Bollywood stars and this time I'm here to receive the Best Actor Award."

Rajkummar Rao accepting the Best Actor (Special Mention) award at the Indian Film Festival Melbourne 2017

The festival will also see various masterclasses by eminent filmmakers, awards nights, dance competitions, concerts, competition, and much more. The IFFM Award winners were announced at a gala event on Friday (11 August) at the iconic venue — Melbourne Recital Centre. 

Nitesh Tiwari's Dangal and SS Rajamouli's epic Baahubali: The Conclusion (2016) shared the People's Choice Award, while the Amitabh Bachchan-Taapsee Pannu-starrer, Pink, walked away with the award for the Best Film.

Nitesh Tiwari accepting the award for Best Director at the Indian Film Festival Melbourne 2017

Speaking about the win for Popular Choice and Best Director, Tiwari said, "This is my international award and it will truly be remembered."

The surprise winner was Rahul Bose, whose directorial debut, Poorna (2016), earned him the Inaugural Equality Award at the festival.

The list of the winners at Westpac IFFM include:

Best Indie Film: Lipstick Under My Burkha
Best Director: Nitesh Tiwari  for Dangal
Equality in Cinema Award: Director/Actor Rahul Bose for Poorna
Best Actress:  Konkona Sen Sharma for Lipstick Under my Burkha
Best Actor: Sushant Singh Rajput for Dhoni
Best Actor (Special Mention): Raj Kumar Rao for Trapped
Best Film: Pink
People’s Choice Award: Dangal & Bahubali 2
The inaugural Equality Award was given to Rahul Bose for Poorna

Karan Johar was awarded the Leadership in Cinema Award at this prestigious festival and he presented the IFFM Diversity Award to Garth Davis, director of the Academy nominated film Lion.

In his inimitable style, Johar took to stage to receive the award from Simi Garewal and expressed, "This is my first time in Australia and what a special reason to be present here for it. For me filmmaking is always my first love. It's amazing how as directors we get to build people, break them emotionally, cheer them and make them feel happy."

The event was held last night at the Melbourne Recital Center, and witnessed the attendance of actress Simi Garewal, Malaika Arora, Tannishtha Chatterjee, director Shoojit Sircar among others.

The Indian Film Festival Melbourne will continue to run until its closing ceremony on the 22 August.