Director Vishal Bharadwaj is on cloud nine after receiving the prestigious award - Best Artistic Contribution in Cinema of a Director - for Omkara at the Cairo International Film Festival.
"This award meant the world to me because it's considered more prestigious than the best director award. And I'm the first Indian to win it. And to top it all, it was given to me by the legendary Omar Sharif (Lawrence Of Arabia fame actor)," Bharadwaj told IANS.
Omkara, a screen adaptation of Shakespeare's Othello, was in competition in the international section with 17 other films from countries like Italy, China, Egypt, Spain, Iran and Hungary.
Starring Ajay Devgan, Saif Ali Khan, Bipasha Basu, Viveik Oberoi, Kareena Kapoor and Konkona Sen Sharma, Omkara was the only Indian entry.
Bharadwaj spent almost half an hour on stage with Sharif.
"He's so old and yet so agile and alive! So full of joie de vivre! He kept talking to me as if he knew my work well. He told me he had heard about my film. 'You're such a young man and you made Othello. To be with an actor of his stature on the stage was a dream come true."
Bharadwaj had earlier gone to Cairo with Makdee for the children's Film Festival.
"Omkara is a long way off from Makdee, just as The Blue Umbrella is a very far removed from Maqbool," said Bharadwaj.
It seems Bharadwaj is going places.
"It's hard to believe Omkara has gone so far. After Maqbool, I was sitting idle for eight months. But after that things happened so fast, I didn't know how Omkara came together," he sighed.
After triumphing at Cairo, Omkara went to the sixth Kara Film Festival in Karachi and bagged three awards.
The film was awarded for best adapted screenplay, best music (Vishal) and best actor (Saif Ali Khan).
Saif who won the best actor award did not accompany the director. Instead, Ajay, who plays the film's protagonist and producer Kumar Mangat were present to receive Saif's award.