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Eastern Eye Arts, Culture and Theatre Awards 2019(ACTA): Winners all the way!

Eastern Eye Arts, Culture and Theatre Awards 2019(ACTA): Winners all the way!

Annual awards ceremony sees familiar and a few new faces recognised for work over the year…

WE STAND on the shoulder of giants – it is a much-used phrase, but rarely does it have a near-physical import – at last night Eastern Eye’s Arts, Culture and Theatre Awards (ACTA), it palpably did.

The now much venerated and 30-year-old newspaper’s fourth annual awards event recognising achievements from the world of entertainment, arts and culture, was an event that touched many.

Why? Because there in that room – at The May Fair Hotel screening room – with the young and the not so old, there was a deep understanding of the sacrifices and struggle it can take to get to the top – and now there is a very distinct passing of the baton.

The big winners on the evening together – see individual winners photographs

From Nitin Ganatra’s acting award for his performance in the Park Theatre play ‘The End of the Pier’ (reviewed by ACV’s Suman Bhuchar) on and was name checked by Ganatra himself twice) to Antonio Aakeel’s award as The Arts Council’s Rising Star for his role in the film, ‘Eaten By Lions’, it was clear this was a community within a community – and one that has a special affinity with itself.

Akeel said Ganatra was one of his heroes when he started out – and so it was a bit special to be receiving an award at the same awards ceremony.

Amit Roy, Eastern Eye editor-at-large, and chairman of the acta judging panel in his keynote address, remarked: “I would urge Asian parents to encourage a love of theatre, movies, dance, drama, painting, photography and, above all, books in their children for another reason.

“It is spiritually nourishing – and will add to the sum total of happiness in Britain.”

Nihal Arthanayke compere for the evening

There was much cheer for Suki Dhanda, a well-established photographer but now turning her craft into art with an exhibition – ‘Race, Place and Diversity by the seaside’ – an exploration of Plymouth, where she first studied photography.

The in-joke of the evening – prompted by compere and BBC broadcaster Nihal Arthanayake – was, how did all these creative but clearly smart folks manage to avoid going into medicine and carve out a career in the arts?

For some, the challenges were different – academic and Oxford History professor Rana Mitter – who won the ACTA for best presenter (‘Chinese Characters’, BBC Radio 4), said his parents encouraged him to learn Chinese, and never once told him he should be doing medicine. Today, he is one of the world’s leading authorities on the growing Superpower.

For others like Ash Tandon who won the best actor award for film, tv or drama (for his role as Detective Chief Inspector Deepak Sharma in ‘Bodyguard’), it was a fight, but acting won out.

Comedian Paul Chowdhry and father Darshan – Chowdhry won ACTA best comedian later and joked ‘My Dad forced me to be a comedian’

There was also a video message from Mandip Gill who won the Eastern Eye People’s Choice Award – as voted for by readers of Eastern Eye and

The ‘Doctor Who’ star topped the polls and Shobna Gulati – who plays her mother in the BBC drama, (for which Gill won, essaying the role of Yasmin ‘Yaz’ Khan) – collected the award on her behalf and revealed that the young actor is so inspiring and talented, she has her own hashtag. #BeMoreMandip.

The Aga Khan centre is King’s Cross, London is a marvellous building – combining modern architecture with a strong sense of the plurality of Islam, both past and present – it has gardens within, modelled on North African, Persian and Mughal traditions. It won Eastern Eye’s Editor’s Special Award. The centre is just a year old.

Mandip Gill (Doctor Who’s Yasmin Khan) address the audience on her EE People’s Choice Awards

The evening came to a close with the Eastern Eye’s Editor Award for outstanding contribution to the creative industry – which went to Sudha Bhuchar and Kristine Landon-Smith, the founders of Tamasha Theatre.

Though separate now, and involved in new ventures, Bhuchar explained that they came together as mates and not much else – they did not have a grand vision in 1989 when they created the theatre group. They went onto create the original ‘East is East’ , ‘A Fine Balance’ and ‘Wuthering Heights’(both adapted for the stage from the novels) and helped to launch the careers of such names as Parminder Nagra and Jimmi Mistry, among many others.
Landon-Smith, whose mother is Indian, said when they put on their first production, ‘Untouchable’ it was difficult to find 12 actors of South Asian heritage.

What talent is making that wheel turn…

(Sailesh Ram)

All images in this gallery courtesy ©AMG

To view, click on picture and use arrows < > by moving cursor to the middle; to close picture, click x on top right; to close gallery, click outside the picture frame…

For caption only, hover cursor over picture – enjoy!

In all 20 awards were presented on the evening.

To watch the event in full, see here

The full list of winners

Eastern Eye Arts, Culture and Theatre awards 2019 – Winner at top

Arts (visual)
Winner: The Singh Twins for ‘Rule Britannia: Legacies of Exchange’
Bharti Kher for ‘The Intermediary Family’
Matthew Krishanu for ‘The Sun Never Sets’

Winner: Sonia Sabri for ‘Virago’
Mavin Khoo for ‘Man to Monk’
Seeta Patel for ‘Not Today’s Yesterday’

Winner: Preti Taneja for’ We That Are Young’
Amit Dhand for ‘City of Sinners’
Gautam Malkani for ‘Distortion’

Winner:Suki Dhanda for ‘Race, Place and Diversity by the Seaside’
Nitin Sachania for ‘Breastfeeding in Public Places’
Ram Shergill for ‘Exoskeleton’, curated by Daen Palma Hus

Winner: Paul Chowdhry for ‘Live Innit
Imran Yusuf for ‘Saint, Sinner, Sufi’
Mawaan Rizwan for ‘Juice’ Tez Ilyas for Teztify

Best Presenter
Winner: Rana Mitter for ‘Chinese Characters’
Bobby Friction for ‘Pump Up The Bhangra: The Sound of Asian Britain’
Nadiya Hussain for ‘Nadiya’s Family Favourites’

Best Production
Winner: Tartuffe by the Royal Shakespeare Company
Dishoom! by Rifco Theatre Company
Three Sat Under the Banyan Tree by Tara Arts and Polka Theatre

Best Director
Winner: Indhu Rubasingham for White Teeth
Iqbal Khan for Tartuffe
Pravesh Kumar for Dishoom!

Eastern Eye Award for Best Scriptwriter
Winner: Vinay Patel for Doctor Who: Demons of the Punjab
Anil Gupta and Richard Pinto for Tartuffe
Iman Qureshi for The Funeral Director

Arts Council England Rising Star
Winner: Antonio Aakeel for Eaten by Lions
Bally Gill for Romeo and Juliet
Shareefa Energy for Grenfell One Year Later

Community Engagement Award
Winner: The Queen’s Gallery for Splendours of the Subcontinent, curated by Emily Hannam and Kajal Meghani
Artists in Residence for their Promoting Creativity in Education programme, founded by Andria Zafirakou
Manchester Art Gallery for Speech Acts: Reflection-Imagination-Repetition, curated by Hammad Nasar with Kate Jesson

Traditional Music
Winner: Sanju Sahai for outstanding achievement in Indian classical music
Chandra Chakraborty for excellency in performing Indian classical music
Shammi Pithia for ‘About The Elephant’

Contemporary Music
Winner: Naughty Boy for ‘Bungee Jumping’
Niraj Chag for ‘The Captive Queen’
Susheela Raman for ‘Ghost Gamelan’

Eastern Eye Award for Theatre, Best Actor
Winner: Nitin Ganatra for ‘End of the Pier’
Asif Khan for ‘Tartuffe’
Simon Nagra for ‘Tartuffe’

Theatre, Best Actress
Winner: Shobna Gulati for Richard II
Anjana Vasan for An Adventure
Sophie Khan Levy for Hanna

Film, TV & Drama, Best Actor – supported by London Town Group
Winner: Ash Tandon for ‘Bodyguard’
Ray Panthaki for ‘Marcella’
Sid Akbar Ali for ‘Polterheist’

Film, TV & Drama, Best Actress
Winner: Priyanga Burford for Press Kiran Sonia Sawar for Pure
Maya Sondhi for Line of Duty

People’s Choice Award – supported by Media Hive and voted for by the public Winner: Mandip Gill for acting
Hussain Manawer for poetry
Jameela Jamil for female empowerment
Jasmin Walia for music Nadiya Hussain for TV presenting
Naughty Boy for music
Dr Ranj Singh for TV presenting
Romesh Ranganathan for comedy

Eastern Eye Editor’s Special Award – supported by Eastern Eye
Aga Khan Centre

Eastern Eye Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Creative Industry – supported by Edwardian Hotels London
Sudha Bhuchar and Kristine Landon-Smith

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Written by Asian Culture Vulture