A pair of young filmmakers took home two of the top prizes at the New York Indian Film Festival Awards on Saturday, a feat that was especially impressive considering both films were feature-length debuts.
Geethu Mohandas was awarded the NYIFF’s Best Film award for Liar’s Dice, which tells the story of a young rural mother whose tragically changes after her husband goes missing in Delhi. Lead actress Geethanjali Thapa, who plays the main character Kamala, was also honored with the festival’s Best Actress award. Reviewing the film for The Aerogram, Hannah Harris Green movingly wrote that “the Himalayas in this story are not majestic but forbidding and unreadable. Kamla stares blankly into them as she waits — for a bus, or a jeep, or some sign that her struggle will be worth it.”
Another film that garnered widespread acclaim at the festival was Nagraj Manjule’s directoral debut Fandry, which also earned him the festival’s Best Director award. The Marathi film explores the persistent problem of caste-based discrimination through an intra-caste romance starring Somnath Avghade and Rajshree Kharat. Watch the film’s trailer here.
The awards ceremony was preceded by a screening of Bengali film Goynar Baksho, a drama that traces the lives of three generations of women and the impact an inherited box of jewelry had on all of their lives. Speaking to reporters on the red carpet before the screening, Sen said that she hoped the film would make the audience laugh as well as think of the role of women over the generations.
During a Q&A session with festival director Aseem Chhabra after the film, Sen apologized for the anti-smoking messages the Indian Censor Board requires be shown during each film that shows a character using tobacco.
“Everyone laughs when they come on screen,” she said.
A full list of the award winners is below:
Best Film: Liar’s Dice
Best Director: Nagraj Manjule (Fandry)
Best Actor: Naseeruddin Shah (The Coffin Maker)
Best Actress: Geetanjali Thapa (Liar’s Dice)
Best Screenplay: Virgin Talkies
Best Documentary: Gulabi Gang (directed by Nishtha Jain)
Best Short Film: Blouse (directed by Vijayeta)
Best One Minute Film: Five Days