Winners Of Eastern Eye Arts, Culture & Theatre Awards 2018






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Eastern Eye Award for Arts

Winner: Waqas Khan for his exhibition at the Manchester Art Gallery



Lahore-based Waqas Khan is a visual artist known for his pen and ink works on paper. He employs small dashes and minuscule dots to create large entanglements which explore the concept of togetherness. His solo exhibition at the Manchester Art Gallery showcased new pieces including In the Name of God II, Doors and Symphony and a Trio. His works are part of public collections including the British Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Manchester Museum, the Deutsche Bank Collection in Frankfurt and the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art in New Delhi.

Eastern Eye Award for Dance

Winner: Aakash Odedra for #JeSuis




British dancer and choreographer’s style draws from classical Indian dance, contemporary dance and theatre. Among choreographers who have created works for him are Akram Khan, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Russell Maliphant for Rising, Damien Jalet for Inked and Aditi Mangaldas for Echoes. Odedra’s latest work JeSuis was inspired by the Syrian refugee crisis and explores personal stories of conflict, media manipulation, displacement and identity. The dancers for this work are all Turkish and it premiered at New York University in Abu Dhabi before coming to the UK this year. In April 2018, Aakash Odedra Company became a National Portfolio Organisation of the Arts Council England.




Eastern Eye Award for Literature

Winner: Vaseem Khan for The Strange Disappearance of a Bollywood Star



British-born Vaseem’s crime novels, which are set in India, feature retired Mumbai police inspector Ashwin Chopra and his sidekick, a baby elephant named Ganesha. Khan was born in London, but spent a decade working in India as a management consultant. He returned to the UK in 2006 and has since worked at University College London for the Department of Security and Crime Science. With his books, he said the aim of the series was to give readers an idea of what modern India looks like, feels like, sounds like, smells like and even tastes like”.

Eastern Eye Award for Music

Winner: Anoushka Shankar for musical score for Shiraz




With six Grammy nominations, sitar player and composer Anoushka Shankar has established a reputation as an artist of repute in the Indian classical and progressive world music scenes. Shankar studied under her father and guru, the late Ravi Shankar, and made her professional debut as a classical sitarist at the age of 13. By the age of 20, she had made three classical recordings and received her first Grammy nomination, becoming the first female and youngest-ever nominee in the World Music category. Shiraz was first released in 1928 and beautifully restored by the BFI last year. It tells the story behind the construction of the Taj Mahal and two men’s unwavering commitment to the woman who inspired it. It was Shankar’s first feature film score and won praise from critics and audiences alike. In 2017, Anoushka premiered her father and Philip Glass’ composition at The Royal Albert Hall for the coveted BBC Proms.




Eastern Eye Award for Comedy

Winner: Ayesha Hazarika for State of the Nation




Ayesha Hazarika MBE is a columnist and political commentator known for her insightful and witty opinions on current affairs. Having started her career as a stand-up comedian, she later became a special adviser for the Labour Party leader Ed Miliband. Since leaving frontline politics, Ayesha has presented shows on LBC as well The Wright Stuff on Channel 5. She makes regular appearances on CNN Talk, ITV’s Good Morning Britain, Sky Papers on Sky News, The Andrew Marr Show, Newsnight and BBC Radio 4’s The Today Programme. Last year, she toured The State of the Nation, providing an honest and humorous take on life behind the scenes at Westminster.

Eastern Eye Award for Best Presenter

Winner: Dr Ranj Singh for Get Well Soon and Get Well Soon Hospital



Dr Ranj Singh has established himself as one of the most popular and knowledgeable presenters on television. A speciality doctor in paediatric emergency medicine, he is one of the resident doctors on ITV’s This Morning, co-presenter of the primetime ITV series Save Money: Good Health and co-creating host of the BAFTA winning CBeebies series Get Well Soon. He is also the co-creator and host of the BAFTA award-winning CBeebies series, Get Well Soon. Off air, Dr Singh’s work can be found in numerous magazines and websites where he gives expert opinion and advice on a range of physical and mental health matters. He has published two children’s school books with Oxford University Press, which are distributed internationally.




Eastern Eye Award for Best Production

Winner: Combustion by Asif Khan (AIK Productions in association with Tara Arts)



Asif Khan’s debut play, Combustion was co-produced by AIK Productions in association with Tara Arts in 2017. Set in Asif’s home town of Bradford, it tells the story of a Muslim family trying to make their way in the world by running a garage business against the backdrop of a city rocked by the scandal of grooming gangs and the presence of the English Defence League. AIK Productions aims to produce new, quality theatre, with a focus on stories and voices from minority backgrounds. Asif is an award-winning actor and writer. He studied at the University of Bradford and trained as an actor at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. He has performed in and written numerous plays and featured on the ‘BBC New Talent Hotlist 2017’ for new writers.
Combustion toured nationally last year, ending at the Bradford Literature Festival.

Eastern Eye Award for Best Director

Winner: Pooja Ghai for Lions and Tigers




‘Lions and Tigers’ by Tanika Gupta, staged at Shakespeare’s Globe last year, is based upon the true story of the author’s great uncle, Dinesh Gupta, an Indian freedom fighter. Ghai is an actor turned theatre director. Born in Kenya, East Africa, she settled in Britain in the 1980s. She has a passion for new writing, especially that which explores the canon from beyond the western perspective. Ghai was Associate Director of Theatre Royal Stratford East from 2015 to 2018.




Eastern Eye Emerging Artist Award

Winner: Reece Bahia for Thriller Live




Reece Bahia wanted to be a dentist but dropped the idea to pursue his love of music and went onto study Performing Arts at Stratford College. He won the role to play one of the lead Michael Jackson’s in ‘Thriller Live’ after five gruelling auditions. Bahia previously starred in Simon Cowell’s You Generation advert and also appeared on the Voice UK in 2014. He went on to star in Laila the Musical, which toured the UK. In 2016, Reece recorded his first R&B EP Addicted.

Eastern Eye Community Engagement Award

Winner: Science Museum for the Illuminating India season



‘Illuminating India’ was a multi-faceted exhibition celebrating 5,000 years of India’s contribution to science, technology and mathematics. As part of the British Council UK-India 2017 year, celebrating the historic bilateral ties, the season showcased two major exhibitions alongside specially commissioned artwork. One exhibition celebrated India’s central role in the history of science and technology, while the other explored photography’s cultural development and changing role in charting the recent history of India. The exhibitions aimed to tell the stories of the Indian innovators and thinkers who have often been overlooked or written out of Western narratives of history. One of the highlights of the exhibition was a folio of the Bakhshali manuscript containing the world’s oldest recorded origin of the zero symbol.




Eastern Eye Award for Theatre, Best Actor

Winner: Raj Ghatak for The Kite Runner




Actor Raj Ghatak has appeared in numerous plays and films. He is currently starring as the central narrator Amir in the national tour of The Kite Runner, based on the best-selling novel by Khaled Hosseini and adapted by Matthew Spangler. Ghatak trained at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and Queen Mary University. He has performed in both plays and musicals in the West End. Recent roles include the award-nominated Miss Meena and the Masala Queens, the world premiere of the multi-award winning Everybody’s Talking About Jamie and Bombay Dreams, produced by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Raj’s television credits include Hetty Feather, EastEnders and Dead Set. He will next be seen in Disney’s Christopher Robin.

Eastern Eye Award for Theatre, Best Actress

Winner: Meera Syal for Annie



Award-winning actress Meera Syal recently completed a West End run, starring as Miss Hannigan in the musical, Annie. Syal was part of the team behind the BBC hit comedy Goodness Gracious Me, exploring British Asian culture. She was nominated for a BAFTA for ‘Best Comedy Performance’ for her role as Sanjeev Bhaskar’s grandmother, Ummi, in The Kumars at No. 42. Among recent television credits are the BBC drama The Split, Broadchurch and The Musketeers. Her stage credits include Kenneth Branagh’s Romeo and Juliet, Behind the Beautiful Forevers and Much Ado About Nothing. Her debut novel, Anita and Me, is now on the school curriculum. Meera will soon be seen in Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, to be released later this year. Syal was awarded a CBE in 2015 for her services to drama and literature.




Eastern Eye Award for Film, TV & Drama, Best Actor

Winner: Sacha Dhawan for The Boy With the Topknot



Actor Sacha Dhawan has performed on stage, film, television and radio. The Boy with the TopKnot was a one-off BBC drama was adapted for the screen from journalist and author Sathnam Sanghera’s best-selling memoir of the same title. Sacha Dhawan plays Sanghera, who narrates his family’s personal struggle to cope with his father’s mental illness. Dhawan has appeared in films such as The Lady in the Van and After Earth. His television credits include a leading role in Not Safe For Work, Utopia, Mr Selfridge, Outsourced and Sherlock. He is currently starring in Marvel’s Iron Fist, a US television series created for Netflix.

Eastern Eye Award for Film, TV & Drama, Best Actress

Winner: Indira Varma for Game of Thrones



Born to Indian father and Swiss mother, Indira Varma grew up in Bath and has been a regular on theatre, television and film. In 1997 she played Maya in Mira Nair’s Kama Sutra, A Tale of Love. More recently she landed the part to play the fiery Ellaria Sand in Season 4 of Game of Thrones, the world’s biggest TV drama. She is currently filming The One and Only Ivan, co-produced by Angelina Jolie and is set to star in the US web drama series Carnival Row next year. Varma will star in Exit the King, directed by Patrick Marber, later this year at the National Theatre. She has also starred in films including Jinnah and Bride and Prejudice and her stage credits include plays on Broadway and at the National Theatre. On television she has appeared in Luther, Human Target, Paranoid and Patrick Melrose.




Eastern Eye People's Choice Award

Winner: Naughty Boy



Acclaimed producer and songwriter Naughty Boy has worked with an array of stars, including Sam Smith, Ed Sheeran and Beyoncé. He recently collaborated with US singer Joe Jonas for his hit single One Chance to Dance. Naughty Boy rose to fame with his debut album Hotel Cabana, featuring the hit single Wonder with Emili Sandé. He has also collaborated with superstars like Leona Lewis, Sam Smith and Cheryl Cole.

Eastern Eye Editor's Special Award

Winner: Anita Rani for My Family, Partition and Me: India 1947



Anita Rani appears on the BBC’s One Show and Country File. She presented and coproduced BBC One’s two-part series My Family, Partition and Me: India 1947 to mark the 70th anniversary of the Partition of India. Rani explored the human impact of Partition through the stories of four British families, including her own. Using first-hand testimonials from Partition survivors, their children and grandchildren, the documentary retraced the dramatic journeys they were forced to make during Partition. Rani also hosted the Strictly Come Dancing Live Tour in early 2017, having previously participated in the show in 2015.




Eastern Eye Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Arts

Winner: George Alagiah



BBC news presenter George Alagiah is one of the most trusted news anchors in the country, whose nightly broadcasts are watched by millions. Born in Sri Lanka, his family moved to Ghana to escape persecution and then to England where he continued his studies. Alagiah got the journalism bug at university while writing for the student paper and went on to write for South magazine before joining the BBC in 1989. After a stint in London, he moved to Johannesburg as the BBC’s Southern Africa correspondent where he built a reputation for robust but impartial reporting and secured interviews with some of the most prominent leaders in the continent.