Dear Jassi, a film inspired by a real-life honour killing in Punjab, won the Silver Yusr Award for Best Feature Film at the ongoing Red Sea International Film Festival 2023.
Directed by Tarsem Singh Dhandwar, the Punjabi-English romance drama was honoured with the accolade at a ceremony held in Saudi Arabia’s Jeddah on Thursday night.
“Congratulations to Dear Jassi by Tarsem Singh Dhandwar for winning the Silver Yusr for Best Feature Film. #RedSeaIFF23 #YourStoryYourFestival,” the film gala said in a post on X.
Australian filmmaker Baz Luhrmann headed the Red Sea jury, which handed out awards in 17 categories.
According to the festival’s official website, Dandhwar received a trophy and a cash prize of USD 30,000.
The Yusr Awards recognise both emerging and established voices across the formats of fiction, documentary, and animation.
Billed as a ‘Romeo and Juliet’ story, Dear Jassi is based on a real-life incident that took place in the 1990s. Starring Pavia Sidhu, Yugam Sood and Kanwar Grewal, the film also marks a debut for producer Sanjay Grover, son of actor Gulshan Grover.
“Indian Canadian Jassi (Pavia Sidhu) aged 19, visiting family in the Punjab, falls in love with Mithu, an illiterate rickshaw driver.
“Their romance is touchingly chaste but Jassi’s determination to bring her unsuitable love to Canada appals her mother; if she had known she could do this, she says, she would have strangled Jassi at birth. Restrained in its delivery and surprisingly very funny, especially dealing with Indian bureaucracy, Dear Jassi nevertheless delivers a culminating gut punch that is both heartfelt and a dramatic coup,” read the film’s synopsis.
Dear Jassi previously won the Platform Award, a competitive programme that “champions bold directorial visions”, at the 48th Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in September.
The Red Sea International Festival also gave honorary Yusr Awards to Hollywood actors Nicolas Cage, Diane Kruger, Indian actor Ranveer Singh and Saudi Arabian actor-writer Abdullah Al-Sadhan.
Other Indian cinema personalities who attended the film gala include filmmaker Karan Johar and actors Alia Bhatt, Katrina Kaif, and Frieda Pinto.
The festival, which kickstarted on November 30, will come to a close on December 9.