“Bhaag Milkha Bhaag,” the true story of world champion runner and Olympian Milkha Singh, was the big winner at the 2014 International Indian Film Academy Awards that went into the wee hours Sunday morning at Raymond James Stadium.
The movie, which documented the life of the runner, who overcame the massacre of his family, civil war and homelessness to become one of India's most iconic athletes, won five awards including Best Picture and Best Actor for Farhan Akhtar, who also was a co-host of the awards.
“This is a very special moment as it is the first time I'm receiving an award for the film in the presence of Milkha Singh,” Akhtar said. “He shared a lot of amazing stories with me and was the wind beneath my wings. I am very honored today.”
The colorful ceremony was chock-full of comedy bits, thoughtful acceptance speeches and energetic dance numbers reflecting Bollywood style and exuberance.
American actors Kevin Spacey, a presenter, and John Travolta, who was awarded an outstanding achievement award, also got into the act, showing dance moves on stage.
In accepting his award, Travolta said he was “honored and humbled.”
“I believe that as human beings we are alike and this is a medium to celebrate our similarities,” he said. “A heartfelt thank you to IIFA and the Indian film community.”
Hosts Akhtar and Shahid Kapoor kicked off the night with a tip of the hat to Tampa's rich history of pirate celebrations, riding into Raymond James Stadium on a rolling ship with a rowdy krewe and demanding the key to the city from Mayor Bob Buckhorn.
The winners from the “Bollywood Oscars”:
Lifetime Achievement Award 2014: Shatrughan Sinha
Best Entertainer of the Year: Deepika Padukone
Best Picture Award: “Bhaag Milkha Bhaag”
Best Performance in a Leading role (Male) Award: Farhan Akhtar for “Bhaag Milkha Bhaag”
Best Performance in a Leading Role (Female) Award: Deepika Padukone for “Chennai Express”
Best Performance in a Supporting role (Male) Award: Aditya Roy Kapoor for “Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani”
Best Performance in a Supporting role (Female) Award: Divya Dutta for “Bhaag Mikha Bhaag”
Best Performance in a Comic Role Award: Arshad Warsi for “Jolly LLB”
Best Performance in Negative role Award: Rishi Kapoor for “D Day”
Best Story Award: Prashoon Joshi for “Bhaag Milkha Bhaag”
Best Lyric Writer: Mithoon for “Tum Hi Ho” from “Aashiqui 2”
Best Male Playback Singer Award: Arijit Singh for “Tum Hi Ho” from “Aashiqui 2”
Best Female Playback Singer Award: Shreya Goshal for “Sun Raha Hai Na Tu” from “Aashiqui 2”
Best Direction Award: Rakeysh Om Mehra for “Bhaag Milkha Bhaag”
Best Debutant Male: Dhanush Raanjhanaa for “Raanjhanaa”
Best Debutant Female: Vani Kapoor Shudh for “Desi Romance”
Outstanding Achievement in International Cinema: John Travolta
Staff writer Cloe Cabrera and The Associated Press contributed to this report.