The Singapore South Asian International Film Festival (Sg.Saiff) was a ten day extravaganza of sublime cinema from across the South Asian region packed with 35 films from across South Asia, multiple panel discussions, master classes and more. The festival concluded on September 9 with much fanfare and celebration.

Mangesh Joshi’s Lathe Joshi (Marathi) won the Best Feature Film while Soumitra Ranade’s Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyun Aata Hai (Hindi) took home the Audience Prize for Best Film. The Best Short film award was given to Amit Agarwal’s Son of Kali ( Bengali ) and Best Short Documentary to Is it too much to Ask? ( Tamil/English) by Leena Manimekalai.

Screenwriter, poet and lyricist Javed Akhtar was honored with the South Asian Literary Icon award while wife and actress Shabana Azmi was bestowed as the South Asian Woman of the Year.

Actor, producer, director Abhay Deol was awarded the South Asian Icon of the Year while Director K Rajagopal won the Fresh Voice of South Asian Cinema and Actor KP Sandhu the Emerging Talent of Singapore award.

Manoj Bajpayee, one of the finest actors of his generation was facilitated by H.E. Jawed Ashraf for his contribution to cinema and for his support in bringing a film festival of a great magnitude to Singapore.

South India superstar Dulquer Salmaan and famous actress Neha Sharma released a song from their upcoming bilingual film Soloduring the closing ceremony.

The evening of festivities was adorned with scintillating musical performances by wildly popular Indian singers, Mohit Chauhan and Neha Kakkar.

Abhayanand Singh, Festival Chairman and CEO of, in his opening address stressed the need that high-quality independent cinema from the Indian subcontinent is seen in  Singapore, which is a unique melting pot of diverse cultures and races and one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world.

In his award acceptance speech, Javed Akhtar spoke passionately about the need to expose our children to better quality art which must include the kind of cinema we want to see being made. Cinema being an expensive art form responds to market forces and a strong demand for more meaningful films will help channelize resources to filmmakers who are trying to develop their own idiom, away from the mainstream.

Festival mentor, Manoj Bajpayee fondly recalled his first meeting with Muvizz founder Abhayanand Singh and Co-Founder Piiyush Singh and how much he was struck by their passion for cinema and storytelling. This left no room to refuse their request to mentor the venture, of which Sg.SAIFF is a natural extension.

K. Rajagopal, director of The Yellow Bird and Singapore’s rising star of the filmmaking scene paid a heartfelt tribute to the Cinema of Adoor Gopalakrishnan who inspired him to become a filmmaker and lauded the festival for providing Singaporean cinephiles a very rare opportunity to meet the legendary Indian filmmaker in person, during the first half of the festival.

Another mesmerizing highlight of the closing weekend was a very exclusive rendezvous with the legends Javed Akhtar and Shabana Azmi, facilitated with great charm and wit by Sudhir Mishra, one of India’s noted filmmakers and an old friend of the two speakers. 

The World Premiere of Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyun Aata Hai was attended by Director Soumitra Ranade, and cast Manav Kaul and Saurabh Shukla.

A highly stimulating discussion on Cinema in Flux: Filmed narratives of a subcontinent in transition was moderated by Sg.SAIFF Artistic Director and Filmmaker Amit Agarwal. The panel members included Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Girish Kasaravalli, Siddiq Barmak, Prasanna Vithanage, Leena Yadav.

A special screening of the documentary Images/Reflections on the work of master filmmaker Adoor Gopalakrishnan, directed by another master of Indian Cinema, Dr. Girish Kasaravalli was held on September 2.

Important screenings at the festival included Singaporean director K. Rajagopal’s much acclaimed film A Yellow Bird (2016), Bangladesh’s director, Mostofa Sarwar Farooki’s Television (2013), Girish Kasravalli’s new documentary film, Images/Reflections (2015), Adoor Gopalakrishnan’s Once Again/ Pinneyum (2016), Leena Yadav’s Parched (2015), and a much anticipated Bengali film Roktokorobi (2017),based on Rabindranath Tagore’s iconic dance drama of the same title.

An intensive workshop on the craft of acting is currently underway at the India Heritage Centre. The workshop is being conducted by Manoj Bajpayee, prolific and renowned Indian actor and esteemed theatre director and acting coach Ashok Purang.