In a delirious Best Actor (Male) race that was wide open this year, Gajraj Rao came out on top and took home the News18 REEL Movie Award for Amit Sharma's comedy drama Badhaai Ho.
Rao had emerged as a favourite for the award for his spectacular performance of Mr. Kaushik, a middle-aged man who grapples with unexpected parenthood in one of 2018's best films.
Badhaai Ho is a brilliant yet simple attempt to break all the social stereotypes about older couples with active sexual life.
In addition to Rao's win for Best Actor, the film earned REEL Movie Awards for Best Screenplay and Supporting Actor (Female) for Surekha Sikri.
Badhaai Ho was Rao's biggest film role in a 20-year career as an actor. He was previously known for playing a corrupt police inspector in Meghna Gulzar's Talvar. He also appeared in critically acclaimed films like Yahaan and Black Friday.
Rao beat out fellow nominees Manoj Bajpayee (Gali Guleiyan), Ayushmann Khurrana (AndhaDhun), Vicky Kaushal (Manmarziyaan) and Vineet Kumar Singh (Mukkabaaz).
Talking about life post Badhaai Ho, Rao recently told us, "It's a surreal feeling that people of all ages liked my work in the film. It happened with me for the first time when strangers were calling my name in malls; they wanted pictures with me. It really feels great."