Nandita Das and Nawazuddin win at APSA in Brisbane

By Neeru Saluja

Internationally acclaimed actor, director and writer Nandita Das and actor Nawazuddin sweep top awards at the 12th Asia Pacific Screen Awards (APSA) in Brisbane.

As Nawazuddin won the best actor award for Manto, Nandita Das was presented with the prestigious FIAPF (International Federation of Film Producers Associations) Award for achievement in film in the Asia Pacific region.

This is India’s hat trick win for the best actor award as previously Manoj Bajyapee and Rajkummar Rao have won the best actor awards at APSA.

This is Nandita’s second visit to Down Under after she screened her film Manto at the Sydney Film Festival. We got to interact with her before the ceremony and here’s what the intelligent filmmaker had to say.

Congratulations on receiving the FIAPF Award for achievement in film in the Asia Pacific region. How do you feel about this recognition?  

I am delighted and honoured to receive this prestigious Award. Despite the fact that it is my conscience that guides me, we all need some encouragement from time to time. And therefore, I feel this is a validation of my life and work choices.  I have doing films by not really working from within the industry and have chosen to tell more independent stories, along with my social advocacy work. I am grateful that this award  recognises  both these streams of my passion.

In your impressive career as a writer and director, what would you term as your highlights?  
I am a writer and director by default. And in this capacity, I have only done two films and one play. But I feel these experiences have enriched me the most. From its inception to seeing them reach the audiences is a fulfilling experience. While each one of them has been a long and arduous journey (making Manto, most of them all),  it is heartwarming to see how they have moved people, touched them deeply. What more can one ask for! So, it is the journeys themselves that are the highlights.

On the other hand, actor Nawazuddin is nominated for the best actor award for Manto, which will be his second nomination at APSA. After Manoj Bajyapee and Rajkumar Rao’s win at APSA, do you think India we will be third time lucky?  

I do think so. An actor is recognized when they get an amazing character and it brings out the best in them. Nawaz is a fabulous actor and has done full justice to this complex character. That combination totally deserves recognition and Nawaz across the board has been lauded for his performance as Manto. I am very very hopeful!

Manto was screened recently at the Sydney Film Festival and now Australia is waiting for its release. When do you think the film will be released?  

Sadly, this is in the hands of the distributors, who are increasingly finding it difficult to release foreign language films overseas with the Netflixes and Amazons becoming the main platform for independent films. Of course, as a filmmaker, you want people to see films on the big screen. But I am happy that the digital platform is at least making these films accessible to a wide variety of audiences. I am very much looking forward to Manto being seen all around the world, including Down Under next month, when it comes on the digital platform.

With your immense talent, what kind of stories will you continue to bring to screen?  

The stories that I see around myself, the ones that disturb me, the ones I itch to explore, are the ones I have told and will continue to tell. For me, they need to come out of personal angst and concern. I have always seen films as a means to an end.

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