saifta 1 madhuri


The highly-anticipated SAIFTA Awards unfolded at the Durban ICC Arena on Friday night (September 6), to an appreciative audience of top South African and Indian filmmakers, actors and adoring fans.

The backers, The Department of Economic Development and Tourism, Tourism KwaZulu-Natal and Durban Tourism, shared the platform at the stylish awards, which are the brainchild of SAIFTA creative director, Kedhar Gawde.

In his speech, Tourism KwaZulu-Natal chairperson, Sadha Naidoo, said “A vision has just been born.”

Fans screamed wildly at the Durban ICC red carpet arrival, which saw some of Bollywood’s hottest stars and local actors like Jack Devnarain, Robert Whitehead, Latoya Mangezi, Donnalee Roberts and Mutodi Neshehe, make their grand entrance.  South African personalities, Simba and Tatum Keshwar were red-carpet hosts.

The most popular arrivals were those of Bollywood heartthrob John Abraham, Siddharth Malhotra, dancing queen Madhuri Dixit, co-host Dia Mirza and the gorgeous former Miss World and highest-paid Bollywood actress, Priyanka Chopra.  Tamil actress, Isha Talwar wore a stunning Alpa and Reena creation which featured a striking combination of Indian and African influences.

The amazing entertainment line-up wowed the audience with more blitz, bling and glamour than the ICC has ever seen.  It included a hilarious aerial entrance by popular Ranveer Singh from the expansive Arena ceiling, colourful pyro-technics and special effects. The event kicked off with performances from Tamil dance groups and a stunning fashion show by local designer Haroun Hansrot and Alpa and Reena of Mumbai.

The electric dance sequences gave local performers the opportunity and honour of performing on the same stage as stars like Madhuri Dixit, Priyanka Chopra, Siddharth Malhotra and Ranveer Singh.

A highlight was the special lifetime achievement Madiba award bestowed on Nelson Mandela and accepted by his grand-daughter, Ndileka Mandela, from veteran actress, Waheeda Rehman.

Ndileka said; “I thank you for honouring my grandfather who is still at home and is still ill.  We cherish every moment with him and thank everyone for their prayers.”

In a true mix of cultures, it was Afrikaans film “Die Wonderwerker” and TV Series “7de Laan”, that emerged as winners of the Best Film and Best TV Show for the Awards competition period which ran from 1st June 2012 – 31 May 2013.

Craig Strydom, who accepted a special award for “Searching For Sugar Man” which won “The Documentary that Brought the Most Recognition to South Africa,” commented; “I found the evening highly entertaining and am most impressed with this unique initiative. In fact I would love to work with some of these stars, especially the extraordinarily-talented ” Ranveer Singh, who has such stage presence.

The charismatic Muthodi Nesheshe won the “Best Film Actor” award for his part in “Little One”  and “Best TV Actor” title went to Robert Whitehead for his role as Barker Heyns in Isidingo.

“Best Actress Award” went to Lindiwe Ndlovu (for her role in Little One) and “Best TV Actress” was Baby Cele for her role in Zabalaza.  Best debut honours went to Sidharth Malhotra (for Student of the Year) and Huma Qureshi (for Gangs of Wassepur.

John Abraham won the coveted “Youth Icon of the Year” award.

Kedhar Gawde, SAIFTA creative director, said;  “I am more than happy with the first SAIFTA show.  It was great to see the interaction of the two countries and to watch the expressions of the mixed audience as they saw local artists like Jailoshini Naidoo performing as Auntie Rhambha and Aaron McIlroy interacting with Indian stars.

The direct and indirect economic impact of the inaugural SAIFTA event on KwaZulu-Natal is expected to exceed R80 million, however an economic impact analysis study is yet to be finalised.

The media coverage which includes television programmes beamed around the world, is valued at R700 million.

Mr Desmond Golding, Head of Department, KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development and Tourism, commented; “This evening marks a major step in positioning KwaZulu-Natal as a film capital.  We launched the KwaZulu-Natal Film Commission to facilitate film production In the province and tonight proves the value of  SAIFTA as a means of attracting top directors and producers to shoot their films in our province.  For example, Mukesh Bhatt, who has never filmed an entire film in Durban before, indicated his intention to do so, now that he will have the support of the KZN Film Commission.”

Mr Sadha Naidoo commented; “Tourism research indicates that the Indian tourism market is one of the most attractive and fastest growing, both in volume and value of its outbound travel flows. Globally, India is one of the fastest growing markets for outbound travel.”


Durban’s hosting SAIFTA for the next three years presents an exciting opportunity for Tourism KwaZulu-Natal to strategically leverage awareness of the province and its tourism offerings internationally, particularly within the Indian market, which continues to show tremendous growth potential. In 2010, the total number of outbound trips from India exceeded 12.5 million and in 2011 this grew by 11%


Outbound trips from India are expected to exceed 22 million per year by 2015. In 2012, KZN received a mere 2.4% of the over-100,000 Indian tourist arrivals into South Africa, which was valued to be in the order of 2.3 billion Rand. Tourism KwaZulu-Natal therefore has much to do in ensuring that KwaZulu-Natal becomes a key stop on the Indian traveller’s South African itinerary.  And the best way to promote the province to these tourists is by Durban and KwaZulu-Natal being the location for Bollywood films.


Photo credits:

Robert Whitehead pic: Terry Haywood

Pic of Ndileka Mandela receiving Madiba Award:  Rogan Ward

Priyanka Chopra dancing :  Rogan Ward

Priyanka Chopra, with local dancers: Rajesh Jantilall

Priyanka Chopra on podium: Rajesh Jantilall