There’s something very odd about the National Awards, the film awards conferred on Indian films, all films made in India, in all regional languages, by the government of India. First and foremost, the timings of announcing these awards seem to be very indecisive. The names of this year’s winners were announced on March 7, 2012. Last year, the awards were announced on May 19, 2011. The year before the awards were declared on September 16, 2010. You are not sure what may be the logic.
Yet, these awards are actually a very big deal. These are the highest film awards in the country. And, since it includes all Indian films, from blockbuster Bollywood to obscure Manipuri films, the stakes are high. So, are the rewards.
This said, however, these awards have always failed to fire an average film lover’s imagination, like the Oscars or the Golden Globes, or closer home, the Filmfare awards or other such numerous awards that has cropped up in the recent years, does. The reason being, traditionally, the national awards have honoured regional cinema, especially the cinema of the South, because, to put is simply, they are good. But, Adoor Gopalkrishnan is not a headline-grabbing name, like, for example, Amitabh Bachchan. Nobody cares if Gopalkrishnan wins an award, or Girish Kasaravalli or Jhanu Barua or Shaji N Karun (Really, how many people have heard of ‘Piravi’?), but when Vidya Balan wins an award, it’s a news.
Again, the process of selecting these awards are very official, very bureaucratic, and not at all populist. To be eligible for the awards, the film should be release within the year, from such and such date to such and such date, and the producers have to submit the film to the concerned ministry. The ministry every year selects a jury comprising of film personalities, very much like the jury of a film festival (I think Rohini Hattangadi was the chairperson of the jury this year). The jury members view all the films submitted and declare their verdict.
This verdict itself is not without criticism and controversy. This year, for example, an Asamiya film, ‘Ekhon Nedekha Nadir Xipaare’ (As the River Flows) was not considered eligible because it had a Bollywood star cast led by Sanjay Suri, and had more Hindi dialogues than Asamiya. Predictably, the decision was not taken kindly. (Non-Asamiya actors in Asamiya films is not new. Suhasini Mulay and Girish Karnad acted in Jhanu Barua’s ‘Aparupa’ (1982). There are other examples; Gopi Desai in ‘Papori’ (1986).)
In the last couple of years, however, those in charge of the awards have awakened to the need for publicity, and what’s the better way to do it than award a big name so that the media would pick up the story. And, it mostly worked, until Bollywood completely took over. When you count Nana Patekar, Ajay Devgan, Saif Ali Khan, Amitabh Bachchan as past winners in the acting category, you know what I mean. A few years back, things became so bad that the awards were accused of being promoting Bollywood. It did.
I remember the year when Nana Patekar won the best actor award for ‘Krantiveer.’ There was another contender, Bishnu Khargharia, as a boatman at the very end of his tether, in Jhanu Barua’s ‘Xagoroloi Bohu Door ( It's a Long Way to the Sea, 1995). It was an inspired performance, worthy of an award, in a film which had strong resemblance to Ozu’s ‘Tokyo Story’. When Patekar piped Khargharia, a section of the media criticised the award committee for promoting Bollywood. Bollywood never needed promotion from the government, did it? It’s impossible to judge if Khargharia’s performance was better than Patekar. Both were good. But, what helped Patekar was his visibility; those days he was quite a rage, for his motormouth dialogue delivery and his dramatic patriotism (Remember a film called Tiranga’, referring to the three colours of the Indian flag?).
Now, things have improved and the award committee seems to have found a balance between glamour and serious cinema. This year’s results are a best example. While Vidya Balan was feted for her work in a Bollywood vehicle, best actor award winner Girish Kulkarni’s work was seriously low-key. He was not even the highlight of the film, ‘Deool’, Nana Patekar’s politician was. Yet, it was by far the right choice. Now, somebody should cast Balan and Kulkarni together in a film. To put it mildly, that film would be a disaster. Both the actors have very different acting style.
Girish Kulkarni seems to have found his niche in playing rural characters, may not be very intelligent, but with a heart of gold. He was tour de force in Satish Manwar’s ‘Gabhricha Paus’ (The Damned Rain, 2009). He is also a good writer who did the screenplays for all the three films directed by Umesh Kulkarni, and also won the award for best dialogue for ‘Deool’. A double whammy. Now that Kulkarni has secured his position as an actor working in just three films (‘Valu’, ‘Gabhricha Paus’ and ‘Deool’ ), next, I would like to see him play a suave, urban character and see if he can pull it off.
I am glad to report that a number of films which received the awards were mentioned in the pages of this blog. I wrote both about ‘Shala’ and ‘Deool’ and ‘Ranjana Ami Aar Ashbona’, and ‘I Am’.
What is heartening to see is how Marathi cinema has shined over the year, and in an unusual way. For the consecutive year, Marathi cinema has also claimed the writing awards. This year, apart from being named as the best Marathi film, ‘Shala’ also won an award in adapted screenplay. Last year, ‘Mee Sindhutai Sapkal’ received the same honour. Again, ‘Deool’ shares the highest honour of being the best film of the year.
What surprised me was the Bengali film, ‘Ranjana Ami Aar Ashbona’, which was not only named the best film in Bengali, but also won awards for its music, and a special Jury mention for Anjan Dutta. I’m a die hard Anjan Dutta fan. So, the news should make me happy. But, I am still to come to terms to the soundtrack of the film. I have written about it before how, the remix of old Anjan Dutta songs here failed to impressed me. The original ‘Ranjana Ami Aar Ashbona’ song was melancholic, almost to the point of being tragic, about a Muslim boy’s love for a Hindu girl; the remixed version sounds more rock-n-roll.
My story on ‘Deool’ here.
My story on ‘Shala’ here.
More on 'Ekhon Nedekha Nadir Xipaare' controversy here.
''I Am' is the first gay film to win national award'. The story here.
The Winners 2012
Best Film – Kannada film ‘Byari’ and Marathi film ‘Deool’
Best Malayalam film – Indian Rupee
Best Bengali Film – Ranjana Ami Aar Ashbo Na
Best Tamil Film – Vaagai Sooda Vaa
Best Marathi Film – Shaala
Best Hindi Film – I Am
Best Actor – Girish Kulkarni (Marathi film ‘Deool’)
Best Actress – Vidya Balan (The Dirty Picture)
Best Child Actor – Partho Gupte (Stanley Ka Dabba) and Chillar Party kids
Best Supporting Actor – Appu Kutty (Tamil film ‘Azhagar Samiyin Kuthirai’)
Best Supporting Actress – Leishangthem Tonthoingambi Devi (Manipuri film ‘Phijigee Mani’)
Best Director – Gurvinder Singh (Punjabi film ‘Anhe Ghore Da Daan’)
Best Children’s Film – Chillar Party
Indira Gandhi Award for Best First Film by a director – Thiagarajan Kumararaja (Aranya Kandam)
Best Lyrics – Amitabh Bhattacharya (I Am)
Best Choreography – Bosco – Caesar for ‘Senorita’ (Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara)
Best Visual Effects – Ra.One
Best Costumes – Neharika Khan (The Dirty Picture) and Neeta Lulla (Bal Gandharva)
Best Makeup – Vijram Gaekwad (The Dirty Picture)
Best Screenplay – Nitish Tiwari, Vikas Bahl, Vijay Maurya, Rajesh Bajaj (Chillar Party)
Best Adapted Screenplay Writer – Avinash Deshpande
Best Dialogues – Girish Kulkarni (Deool)
Best Editing – Praveen KL (Aranya Kandam)
Best Audiography – Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara
Best Playback Singer Male – Anand Bhate
Best Playback Singer Female – Rupa Ganguly
Best Book – Anirudha Bhattacharjee, Balaji Vittal (RD Burman The Man The Music)
Best Film Critic – Manoj P Pujari
Special Mention – Director Shari for Malayalam film ‘Adi Madhyantam’ and Mallika Kannada film ‘Byari’
Special Jury Award – Anjan Dutta (Ranjana Ami Aar Ashbo Na)
The Winners 2011
01. Best Feature film: 'Adaminte Makan Abu' (Malayalam)
02. Best Director: Vetrimaran, 'Aadukalam' (Tamil)
03. Best Actor: Dhanush, 'Aadukalam' and Salim Kumar, 'Adaminte Makan Abu'
04. Best Actress: Mitalee Jagtaap, 'Baboo Band Baaja' and Saranya Ponvannan, 'Thenmerku Paruvakaatru'
05. Best supporting Actor: Thambi Ramaiah, 'Mynaa'
06. Best Supporting Actress: Sukumari, 'Namma Gramam'
07. Best Cinematographer: Madhu Ambat, 'Adaminte Makan Abu'
08. Best Editing: Kishore Te, 'Aadukalam'
09. Best Popular Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment: 'Dabangg'
10. Best Debut Film of A Director: 'Baboo Band Baaja'(Marathi)
11. Best Children's Film: 'Hejjegalu' (Kannada)
12. Best Singer Female : Rekha Bhardwaj, 'Ishqiya', ("Badi Dheere Jali")
13. Best Singer Male: Suresh Wadkar, 'Mee Sindhutai Sapkal' ("Hey Bhaskara Kshitijavari Ya", Marathi)
14. Best Music: Vishal Bhardwaj, 'Ishqiya'
15. Best Audiography: Subhadeep Sengupta,'Chitrasutram' and Kamod Karade, Debajit Changmai, 'Ishqiya'
16. Best Sci & Tech Film: 'Heart to Heart'
17. Best Sports Film: 'Boxing Ladies'
18. Special Jury Award: 'Kabira Khada Baazar Mein'
19. Best Educational Film: 'Advaitham'
20. Best Art & Culture Film: 'Leaving Home'
21. Best Debut Non-feature Film: 'Pistulya'
22. Nargis Dutt Award: 'Moner Manush'
23. Best Film On social Issues: 'Champions'
24. Best Film on Environment Conservation / Preservation: 'Beetari Jeeva'
25. Best Production Design: 'Enthiran/Robot'
26. Best Background Score: Isaac Thomas Kottukappilly, 'Adaminte Makan Abu'
27. Best Screenplay (Adapted): Anant Mahadevan & Sanjay Pawar,'Mee Sindhutai Sapkal'
28. Special Jury Award: Mi Sindhutai Satka
29. Best dialogues: Sanjay Pawar, 'Mee Sindhutai Sapkal'
30. Best Lyricist: Vairamuthu, 'Thenmerku Paruvakaatru'
31. Best Child Artist: Shantanu Ranganekar, Machindra Gadkar, Vivek Chabukswar, Harsh Mayar
32. Best Make Up Artist: Vikram Gaikwad, 'Moner Manush'
34. Best Special Effects: V. Srinivas M Mohan, 'Enthiran/Robot'
34. Best Screenplay (Original): Vetrimaran, 'Aadukalam'
35. Best Art Direction: Sabu Cyril, 'Endhiran/Robot'
36. Best Costume Design: Indrans Jayan, 'Namma Gramam'
37. Best Choreography: Dinesh Kumar, 'Aadukalam '
Best Hindi Film: 'Do Dooni Chaar'
Best Marathi Film: 'Mala Aai Vhhaychay'
Best Assamese Film: 'Jetuka Patar Dare'
Best Kannada Film: 'Putukarna Highway'
Best English Film: 'Memories in March'
Best Bengali Film: 'Ami Aadu'
Best Malayalam Film: 'Veettilekkulla Vazhi'
Best Tamil Film: 'Thenmerku Paruvakaatru'
The Winners 2010
Best Film – ‘Kutty Shrank’
Best Director – Rituparno Ghosh for Abohoman
Best Supporting Actress – Arundhati Nag for ‘Paa’
Best Supporting Actor – Farooq Sheikh for ‘Lahore’
Best Popular Film, Best Director and Best Producer – ‘3 Idiots’
Best Film on Social Issues – Shyam Benegal’s ‘Well Done Abba’
Best Film on National Integration – Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s ‘Dilli-6
Best Camerawork – Anjali Shukla.
Best Music Director – Amit Trivedi for Dev D
Best Playback Singer (Male) – Rupam Islam
Best Playback Singer (Female) – Niranjana Sarkar (Housefull)
Best Sound Engineer – Oscar winner Resul Pookutty
Best lyrics – Swananad Kirkirey for 3 Idiots
Best Choreography – K Shivashankar for film Magadheera
Best Children Film – Ottani Pati and Kesu
Best Special Effects – Kamalakannan for film Magadheera