Athlete biopic wins gold as US honours Indian film

Kevin Spacey was one Hollywood star making an appearance at the awards

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A biopic of Indian athlete Milkha Singh has swept the board at an elaborate annual award ceremony celebrating the best of Bollywood film.

The five-hour International Indian Film Academy Awards ceremony was held in Tampa, Florida - the first time the event has been staged in the US.

Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (Run Milkha Run) won the prizes for best picture, story, actor, supporting actress and director.

Milkha Singh, nicknamed the "Flying Sikh", competed in three Olympic Games.

He did so after overcoming personal tragedy when he saw his parents and seven siblings murdered during the Partition of India and the creation of Pakistan in 1947.

Milkha Singh Milkha Singh was honoured on stage at the ceremony

Singh, 84, was among the 20,000-strong crowd at Saturday's ceremony.

The colourful show opened with actors entering the arena aboard a mock pirate ship, a reference to the city's long-running pirate festival.

The extravaganza included song-and-dance routines featuring Bollywood movie hits, acrobatics and American cheerleaders.

US actor Kevin Spacey, Bollywood actor Shahdid Kapoor (C) and Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone Kevin Spacey was shown some moves by Bollywood stars Shahdid Kapoor (centre) and Deepika Padukone
Bollywood actress Priyanka Chopra with John Travolta John Travolta took part in a routine with Bollywood actress Priyanka Chopra

Hollywood stars John Travolta and Kevin Spacey also appeared, each getting into the spirit by taking part in Indian-style dance routines.

The event was hosted by Shahid Kapoor and Farhan Akhtar, and Akhtar picked up the best actor award for playing Singh in Bhaag Milkha Bhaag.

Director Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra dedicated his prize to Singh, who took the stage and said: "This goes to the boys and girls of India, who deserve to win the gold."

Divya Dutta won best supporting actress for her role in the same film, while Deepika Padukone was named best leading actress for the action comedy Chennai Express.

Bhaag Milkha Bhaag had already won nine technical awards at a separate ceremony in Tampa on Friday.

The International Indian Film Academy Awards were launched in London in 2000 and are held around the world as a shop window for Indian cinema.

The academy said 800 million people would watch the ceremony when it is broadcast in June.

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