Bollywood actor and talk show host Aamir Khan was among a select group of film personalities honoured here for making a major impact on social issues through cinema.

In glittering event held at the Andrew Mellon Auditorium in Washington the America Abroad Media (AAM) group feted Aamir Khan along with Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow and 2013 Nobel Prize nominee the International Centre on Nonviolent Conflict.

All three winners of AAM’s inaugural awards were commended for work that exemplified “the power of media to inform, educate and empower citizens about the critical, social, and public policy issues of our time.”

In comments to The Hindu Khan said that women’s empowerment was an important example of issues that films could influence, particularly in the Indian context.

He added that his television show, Satyameva Jayate, had dedicated at least four or five episodes of a total of 13 towards key issues on women’s empowerment.

Khan also argued that for the 2014 elections political parties should focus on the needs of the common man, including everything from law and order to meeting basic needs.

Ms. Bigelow, who said that she was “shocked” to get the AAM award, was praised for her sensitive portrayal of U.S. military and covert operations engagements, respectively in her films The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty.

In video remarks former Central Intelligence Agency boss Michael Hayden said that Ms. Bigelow ought to be commended for turning “an uncompromising light on the CIA and its people that I once led.”

He said that most people in the establishment were glad that she made the film Zero Dark Thirty, which fleshed out the shadowy world of the CIA’s pursuit of Osama bin Laden, including depictions of torture of inmates via water boarding.

“You handled life as realism, as complex, showing how difficult the decisions that had to be made were,” he said.

The event was followed by a panel discussion with the honourees, co-chaired by the Indian Ambassador to the U.S., Nirupama Rao, on the potential of movies to influence social issues.

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