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National Film Awards: Bollywood is the winner but should it be?

The announcement of the National Awards on Monday has once again triggered the debate that the jury has favoured populist cinema.

Written by Alaka Sahani | Mumbai |
March 29, 2016 1:35:53 pm
National awards, National awards 2016, amitabh bachchan, kangana ranaut, baahubali, National awards news, National awards winners, National awards winning actors, National awards winning films, National awards 2016 winners, baahubali, sanjay leela bhansali, entertainment news Over the years, Bollywood has also increased its presence at the National Awards. This year, most of the awards, barring those meant for regional categories, have been bagged by Bollywood.

Baahubali, Piku, Tanu Weds Manu Returns and Bajirao Mastani are some of the top-grossers of 2016. They are also the winners of the top awards at the 63rd National Film Awards announced on Monday. SS Rajamouli’s Baahubali won Best Film while Bajirao Mastani fetched Sanjay Leela Bhansali the award for Best Director. Amitabh Bachchan as a cantankerous septuagenarian troubled by constipation in Piku gets his fourth National Award for Best Actor after Agneepath (1990), Black (2005) and Paa (2009) while Kangana Ranaut won the Best Actress award for her double role as the tempestuous Tanu and the adorable Haryanvi athlete Datto in Tanu Weds Manu Returns. This is the third National Award for Ranaut after the Best Actress medal for Queenand best supporting actress for Fashion (2008). (Read: National Awards 2016: Here is the complete List of Winners)

The importance of National Awards in promoting meaningful films — which do not entertain the way commercial cinema does and have largely been relegated to the fringe — cannot be overstated. The announcement of the National Awards on Monday has once again triggered the debate that the jury has favoured populist cinema. In India, Bollywood rules the popular imagination. Over the years, it has also increased its presence at the National Awards. This year, most of the awards, barring those meant for regional categories, have been bagged by Bollywood. (Also read: National awards 2016 winners Kangana, Bhansali, Kabir Khan in celebratory mode)

Other than the Best Director Award, Bajirao Mastani has won top honours for Remo D’Souza (Best Choreography), Tanvi Azmi (Best Supporting Actress), Biswadeep Chatterjee (Best Sound Design), Justin Gose (Best Re-Recordist of the Final Mixed Track) and Sudeep Chatterjee (Best Cinematography). The Best Production Design too been bagged by Bhansali’s period drama and shared by Shriram, Iyengar, Saloni Dhatrak and Sujeet Sawant. This film was definitely big in scale and ambition. However, the question remains whether it deserved to sweep the awards. Was the jury overwhelmed by its opulence? (PHOTOS: National Awards 2016: Amitabh Bachchan, Kangana Ranaut, Baahubali are big winners)

Interestingly, two significant writing awards — Best Screenplay (Original) and Best Dialogue — are shared by Piku’s Juhi Chaturvedi and Tanu Weds Manu Returns’ Himanshu Sharma. Though Vishal Bhardwaj has earned the Best Screenplay (Adapted) for Talvar, a well-deserved honour, this movie’s trophy tally of two awards — the other is Best Location Sound Recordist for Sanjay Kurian — was a bit disappointing.

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Even as the representation of regional films remained low in the regular categories, some of the most-talked about independent and non-mainstream movies in Hindi released last year seem to have been overlooked. Masaan, one of the most talked about films of 2015, fetched only the Best Film Debut of a Director for Neeraj Ghaywan, in spite of winning international accolades.

At a time when most popular film awards — their number keeps growing every year — have become glorified stage shows, designed for television, the National Awards are what most film personalities continue to value.

The jury’s judgement, therefore, should not be clouded by the glamour and glitz of popular cinema. The National Awards should continue to honour and celebrate good cinema irrespective of its box-office report, production cost or star power.

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First published on: 29-03-2016 at 01:35:53 pm

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