MUMBAI: Spy thriller Raazi stole the night at Bollywood's answer to the Oscars, taking Best Film and Best Actress for its young star Alia Bhatt in Mumbai, where the glitzy awards gala was held for the first time since being established two decades ago.
Megastar Ranveer Singh won Best Actor for his role in Padmaavat, a historical action drama that enraged Hindu radicals but was an international success.
The International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) awards went on into the early hours of Thursday and Bhatt said it had been worth the wait as she received her prize. "The fact that you are all sitting here past 2:00am and watching us being honoured means you all love cinema and that's why we continue to do what we are doing," she said.
"It feels surreal to hold this IIFA award for Raazi and to be nominated alongside talented actors who were my inspiration." Raazi, directed by Meghna Gulzar - one of the rare female executives in Bollywood - revolves around a Kashmiri spy who marries a Pakistani official so she can send back intelligence before the 1971 India-Pakistan war.
Andhadhun, a black comedy about a nearly blind piano player who witnesses a murder, won Best Director as well as Best Screenplay and Best Story.
Aditi Rao Hydari won Best Supporting Actress for Padmaavat, which began to stir trouble well before filming even wrapped up. "It's a miracle and a blessing I made it as an actor. To do what I love to do for a living is a gift," Singh said, praising his wife and co-star Deepika Padukone.
Hindu hardliners, who complained that the film misrepresented its central figure Queen Padmavati, attacked its set and staged protests that forced a delay in release. Padmaavat only came out after changes ordered by India's film censors.
Ishaan Khattar, who acted in Iranian film-maker Majid Majidi's Beyond the Clouds, won Best Male Newcomer while Sara Ali Khan took Best Female Newcomer for Kedarnath.
It is the first time in 20 years that the awards have been held in India. Previous events have taken place in key foreign markets for Bollywood including the United States, Britain, Singapore and the Middle East. But with the Indian film industry booming, the IIFAs returned home to Mumbai this year.
Many of Bollywood's top stars such as Salman Khan, Katrina Kaif and Deepika Padukone turned out in extravagant outfits. Khan, Kaif, Sara Ali Khan and dance icon Madhuri Dixit performed a mix of their most popular songs, celebrating a bumper year. Revenues grew 12.2% in 2018, which included not only Bollywood films but also regional titles, according to a March report by Ernst & Young.
The IIFA ceremony sets off India's award season that culminates with the National Film Awards, which has a smaller global audience but is considered more prestigious.
Here’s a complete list of winners
Best Playback Singer (Male): Arijit Singh for Ae Watan
Best Playback Singer (Female): Harshdeep Kaur and Vibha Saraf for Dilbaro
Best Lyrics: Amitabh Bhattacharya for Dhadak
Best Music: Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety
Best Story: Andhadhun
Best Music Direction in Last 20 Years: Pritam
Best Director in Last 20 Years: Rajkumar Hirani
Best Film in Last 20 Years: Kaho Na Pyaar Hai
Best Actor in Last 20 Years: Ranbir Kapoor
Best Actress in Last 20 Years: Deepika Padukone
Best Debutant (Male): Ishaan Khatter for Dhadak and Beyond the Clouds
Best Debutant (Female): Sara Ali Khan for Kedarnath
Best Supporting Actor (Male): Vicky Kaushal for Sanju
Best Supporting Actor (Female): Aditi Rao Hydari for Padmaavat
Best Director: Sriram Raghavan for Andhadhun
Best Actor (Male): Ranveer Singh for Padmaavat
Best Actor (Female): Alia Bhatt for Raazi
Best Film: Raazi