Akshay Kumar on Wednesday received the national award for best actor for his role in Rustom and Malayali actress Surabhi Jyothi was judged the best actress for her perfornamce in Minnaminungu (The Firefly). Eighty-seven-year-old Telugu director Kasinathuni Viswanath received the prestigious Dadasaheb Phalke award. A prominent name, not just in Telugu cinema, but also in Tamil and Hindi films, Viswanath became the 48th recipient of the Phalke award on Wednesday evening, the highest recognition in Indian cinema, which includes a golden lotus, a cash prize of Rs 10 lakh, a citation and a shawl.
Bollywood actress Sonam Kapoor received a Special Mention for Neerja, amid loud cheers from father Anil Kapoor, himself an actor, mother Sunita and friend Anand Ahuja. As Kumar received the Best Actor award from President Pranab Mukherjee, wife Twinkle Khanna and son Aarav Bhatia beamed at him from the second row. Before receiving the award, when Kumar was asked if his choice of roles would change after the award, he said, “I don’t know what are the National Award-kind of films. I shall continue to do the kind of work I have always been doing.”
At the 64th National Film Awards ceremony Wednesday, Malayalam superstar Mohanlal received the Special Jury Award and a standing ovation. This was Mohanlal’s second award in the same category — he had also bagged the Special Jury Award in 1990. Phalke winner Viswanath is not a prominent name just in Telugu cinema but also in Tamil and Hindi films. Viswanath said, “It is an auspicious occasion to receive this prestigious award. I offer my pranams to my parents and to the Almighty who is everywhere.”
Information and Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said Viswanath’s speciality was that he made entertaining films without violence, vulgarity or fights. “He is a great inspiration for budding filmmakers,” Naidu said. Veteran filmmaker Priyadarshan, who chaired the feature film jury and was criticised by a section of film experts for choosing Akshay as Best Actor, said at the event, “People might appreciate or criticise, but the jury’s decision is final, and has to be appreciated. We have given importance to movies with social issues that show our culture, our beliefs and project India.” Kashmiri actress Zaira Wasim received the Best Supporting Actor award for Dangal. Adil Hussain came to collect honours for two films — Mukti Bhawan (Hindi) and Maj Rati Keteki (Assamese).