The second edition of the iReel Awards, held in Mumbai on Monday night, ended with much flair and fanfare, as Netflix's dark drama Delhi Crime took home three trophies, while Sacred Games 2, Little Things 2 and Mirzapur won two awards each.
It was not only a starry affair with actors such as Rajkummar Rao, Radhika Apte, Ranvir Shorey and Jim Sarbh walking the red carpet but also an evening to celebrate talented actors such as Pankaj Tripathi, Shefali Shah and Mithila Palkar who are revolutionising homegrown web content with their brilliant performances and making new-edge Indian stories appealing to Indian as well as the international audience.
While there was no dearth of light-hearted moments during the event, with comedy acts by Punit Pania punctuating the award distribution ceremony, the evening began with a lively panel discussion on “Should OTT platforms be under the standard government censorship?” where panelists Ravi Dubey, Surveen Chawla, Sumukhi Suresh and Sumeet Vyas made a case against forced edits by the government.
Radhika Apte, who had featured in Netflix's Sacred Games, Ghoul and Lust Stories took home the Breakthrough Artiste award. The actress was felicitated by Rajkumar Rao and in her acceptance speech, she said, "We have all got an opportunity now to put forward better content (because of OTT platforms). We have better budgets and I'm so glad that this (OTT platforms) generated such great employment. Now, everybody has got a job...a good job."
Shefali Shah was adjudged the Best Actress (Drama) for her performance in Delhi Crime. The director of the show, Richie Mehta, accepted the award on her behalf. The Best Actor Drama Award went to veteran actor Pankaj Tripathi, who, while receiving his award jokingly said, "I'm 44-year-old. Had I received this award at the age of 30, I would have surely cried."
The Best Actress (Comedy) trophy went to Mithila Palkar for her wonderful slice-of-life show Little Things 2 and Amol Parashar took home the Best Actor (Comedy) award for Tripling 2. While receiving the award, Parashar said, "I never believed in awards before this. But from today I have started to think that they are legit."
Richie Mehta, the maker of Delhi Crime, scored the Best Drama Award and thanked the usual suspects aka Delhi Police in his acceptance speech, while Aswin Suresh, Aniruddh Pandita, Aditi Srivastava and Dhruv Seghal of Little Things 2 took the stage to receive the Best Comedy Award. "Among all the drama and the action and the dark content, it feels nice to be recognised for something that makes you smile," said producer Aswin Suresh while accepting the award on behalf of the entire cast and crew of Little Things 2.
The hallmark of iReel awards has been to celebrate talent, original storytelling and inventive ideas that redefine web entertainment content constantly and propel them to become better, bolder and more interesting. In that sense 2019 has been a landmark year.
Although the viewers had already tasted the deliciousness of new, uncensored Indian content last year too, this year the OTT platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hotstar have loosened their purse strings to back new indigenous content of shows like Sacred Games 2, Delhi Crime and Little Things 2 and to give them the production value that Bollywood films would envy.
These shows are bigger not only in terms of their narratives but also in terms of the canvas, and the world they create to immerse you into. Another great web series trend that started in 2019 is that international audiences have begun binge-watching Indian shows and iReel Awards continue to facilitate those who make such good quality shows happen.
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