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Konkona Sen Sharma wins best director, best actress awards at New York Indian Film Festival

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Konkona Sen Sharma
Konkona Sen Sharma

Konkona Sen Sharma bagged two awards at the 2017 New York Indian Film Festival, winning in the Best Actress and Best Director categories.

NEW YORK (Diya TV) — Konkona Sen Sharma has been selected as the winner in the categories of “Best Director” and “Best Actress” at the New York Indian Film Festival.

The 37-year-old Sharma won the best actress award for her performance in Alankrita Srivastava’s Lipstick Under My Burkha, while she was awarded the best director for her directorial debut, A Death in the Gunj.

The NYIFF announced the list of this year’s winners on its official Twitter page:

“#NYIFF2017 Awards winners Best Director is @konkonas @chhabs @aroonshiv,” another tweet read.

Lipstick Under My Burkha, which served as the festival’s opening-night film, has  been denied a certificate for theatrical release from India’s Central Board of Film Certification for being “female oriented.” The film revolves around four Indian women, from ages 18 to 55 – a burqa-clad college girl, a young beautician, a mother of three and an aging widow – living in a small town who assert their personal and sexual rights.

Sharma’s directorial venture, A Death in the Gunj, is a drama thriller starring Kalki Koechlin, Vikrant Massey, Jim Sarbh, Tanuja and Om Puri in key roles.

The 17th NYIFF, presented by the Indo-American Arts Council, took place from April 30 to May 7 at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian

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Bollywood Star Vinod Khanna dead at 70

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Vinod Khanna
Vinod Khanna

Vinod Khanna makes a victory sign during an election campaign rally on the outskirts of Gurdaspur, India.

MUMBAI (Diya TV) — Veteran Bollywood sensation Vinod Khanna passed on Thursday at the age of 70, according to a hospital statement.

Khanna died of advanced bladder cancer on Thursday morning, said Tushar Pania, from the HN Reliance Foundation and Research Centre in Mumbai.

Khanna, who was dubbed Bollywood’s “original heartthrob,” had reportedly been battling the cancer for several years. He was hospitalized last month in Mumbai due to severe dehydration and bladder cancer, according to a report in the Hindustan Times. Tributes to the actor poured in on social media, with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi also paying his respects.

In a career that spanned more than four decades, Khanna has been credited with appearances in more than 100 films.

He’s best remembered for his performances in movies such as “Mera Gaon, Mera Desh,” (“My Village, My Country”), “Gaddaar,” (“Traitor”), “Kuchhe Dhaage,” (“Fragile Threads”), “Amar, Akbar, Anthony,” which he co-starred in with fellow superstar Amitabh Bachchan, and “Qurbani,” (“Sacrifice”) — one of several films for which he received a Filmfare Award nomination, India’s equivalent to an Oscar.

Khanna was born in 1946 in Peshawar, British India, now Pakistan. He moved with his family to Mumbai the same year, soon after the partition of India and Pakistan. Khanna debuted on the silver screen for the first time in 1968 in “Man Ka Meet,” (“A Pairing of Hearts”), where he played the villain, a trend that continued for much of the start of his career.

Three years later, he made the successful transition to the “hero” and played the lead role in “Hum, Tum or Woh,” (“Me, You and Them”).

Khanna returned to acting in 1987 after a five-year sabbatical, appearing in a slew of romantic films. In 1999, he received the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award and less than a decade later, in 2007, he won the ZEE Cine Lifetime Achievement Award.

Away from the screen, Khanna was also a well-known politician. In 1997 he joined the current ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The following year, he was elected to India’s lower house of parliament. He was elected four times from his constituency in the northern state of Punjab.

He is survived by his second wife Kavita, his children Rahul, Akshaye, Sakshi and Shraddha. Rahul and Akshaye are both also actors; his son Rahul Khanna is best known to international audiences for playing Yousaf Rana in the spy thriller television series, “The Americans.”

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New York City will host the 18th annual IIFA awards this July

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Moments before Deepika Padukone accepted her IIFA, she taught Kevin Spacey how to do the lungi dance.
Moments before Deepika Padukone accepted her IIFA, she taught Kevin Spacey how to do the lungi dance. Courtesy: IIFA

Moments before Deepika Padukone accepted her IIFA, she taught Kevin Spacey how to do the lungi dance. Courtesy: IIFA

NEW YORK (Diya TV) — The countdown to India’s biggest, most extravagant and spectacular global celebration of cinema has begun, the International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) announced Wednesday that New York City will play host to the organization’s 18th edition of the IIFA Weekend and Awards festival.

The festival, one of the world’s most renowned and celebrated international events of cinema, will play out at the MetLife Stadium, home of the NFL’s New York Giants and New York Jets, on July 14 and 15.

This marks just the second occasion the festival has ventured its way to the states, New York City mayor Bill de Blasio spoke on the cultural and economic impact it would have on the people of his city and state. “We are thrilled to welcome IIFA to New York! Our city is home to both a thriving film industry and a dynamic, growing Indian American community,” he said in a press release.

“This is an event that will contribute enormously to both the cultural and economic life of our city. We welcome the artists and fans of Indian cinema, and encourage everyone to experience the rich cultural life across the five boroughs while celebrating these groundbreaking films.”

Since its inception, the IIFA has carried the mission of bringing together the biggest and brightest stars of Bollywood and Hollywood on one stage, creating a platform of exchange between two of the world’s most prolific film industries. The festival has introduced mainstream North American stars of cinema such as Angelina Jolie, Jackie Chan and Kevin Spacey to Indian film enthusiasts abroad, and has brought such Bollywood stars as Priyanka Chopra, Shah Rukh Khan and Amitabh Bachchan to Americans.

This year’s festival will play host to some of the most celebrated stars of the Indian film industry, notable guests, and dignitaries from India and from across the region.

“We are honored that IIFA has chosen MetLife Stadium to host the 18th annual IIFA Awards and we look forward to welcoming the thousands of fans from around the world who will travel to New Jersey,” said the venue’s chief executive, Ron VanDeVeen, in a statement. “This global event offers us the incredible opportunity to host our first-ever awards show and to continue to showcase our region to an international audience.”

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15th Annual Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles kicks off tonight

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LOS ANGELES (Diya TV) — Now in it’s 15th year, the Indian Films Festival of Los Angeles is scheduled to kick off tonight with the premiere of “Lipstick Under My Burkha.” Widely recognized as the premiere showcase of groundbreaking Indian cinema globally, this year’s rendition of the festival will take place from April 5-9, and will be held at Regal L.A. LIVE: A Barco Innovation Center.

“As India’s diverse array of talented filmmakers continues to be recognized around the world for their compelling and daring work, IFFLA is extremely proud to collect the best films from emerging voices and experienced masters and present them to Los Angeles,” said Mike Dougherty, Director of Programming, in a press release.

Lipstick Under My Burkha, directed by Alankrita Srivastava

Lipstick Under My Burkha, directed by Alankrita Srivastava will open the 15th edition of the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles

The festival will open with “Lipstick Under My Burkha,” which features an ensemble cast of Konkona Sen Sharma, Ratna Pathak, Aahana Kumraand Plabita Borthakur in a dramatic, but irreverent and vibrant film about women and faith. The film was first screened in Tokyo in 2016 and has since been lighting up the festival circuit. including just winning the Audience Award at the Glasgow Film Festival. The film’s director, Alankrita Shrivastava, will be in attendance at the screening.

Some of highlights include:

‘An Insignificant Man’ The political climate in India has seen the rise of a leader with rags to riches story. Narendra Modi the current Prime Minister of India gained in popularity rose to the top, while another man Arvind Kejriwal, challeged the status quo and the establishment forming a new party called the ‘Aam Admi Party’ or AAP translated mean Common Man’s Party.

‘An Insignificant Man’ takes you through an astounding journey with the behind-the-scenes access attained by first-time documentarians Khushboo Ranka and Vinay Shukla. Embedded in Kejriwal’s campaign for a year, these new filmmakers use their exclusive footage and media coverage to piece together a gripping, eye-opening account of the AAP’s herculean effort to wrestle power away from an establishment long divorced from the needs of its people.

Sexy Durga IFFLA alum Rajshir Deshpande stars in the controversial and provocative “Sexy Durga”, directed by Sanal Kumar Sasidharan. It is a road trip movie that exposes the vulnerability of women in Indian society to exploitation that masquerades as chivalry. 

Shorts Program, Spice Sisters

Shorts Program, Spice Sisters

A personal favorite of mine is the shorts programs. It is a wonderful way to sample many different types of films and stories. Many filmmakers have showcased their short film at IFFLA and have returned with a feature film. It is something special to witness the filmmakers’ journey and be able to interact with them at this intimate film festival.

This year’s shorts programs are full of vibrant and boundary-pushing films. I spoke with Managing Director Nitin Sonawane about the upcoming festival and what guests can look forward to this year. One main point is how the festival strives to be on the pulse of what is happening in India. Also, Nitin Sonawane added that you can look at one film and think, “Wow, this is going on in India and then look at something completely different and that is also going on India.”

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This year’s festival will close with a screening of “Hotel Salvation,” the debut feature of Shubhashish Bhutiani, whose 2013 short film “Kush” was shortlisted for the Live Action Short Film Oscar and won IFFLA’s 2014 Audience Award. “Hotel Salvation” premiered in the College Cinema section of the 2016 Venice Film Festival. The film’s star Adil Hussain (Life of Pi, Umrika, Parched) will attend IFFLA’s Closing Night gala representing the film.

This year’s festival will also mark the world premieres of two films, the North American premieres of five additional, as well as five U.S. premieres. This festival premieres work representing nine languages, and highlights a combination of exciting first and second-time filmmakers and experienced cinema masters returning with new work.

Gala tickets, passes and more information about the festival can be found at www.indianfilmfestival.org .

Diya TV is a media sponsor of the festival.

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