The Kerala Chalachitra Academy has been caught in a catch-22 situation as it begins the process of identifying the best of Malayalam cinema in 2018 under various categories for the upcoming 49th State Film Awards. The producers of Aami and Carbon have submitted their respective films for the competition, which has put the Academy in a bureaucratic dilemma.
The Academy is divided over whether Aami and Carbon should be considered for awards, given that the former was directed by Kamal, the sitting chairperson of the Academy and the latter is edited by Beena Paul, the vice-chairperson.
A section of officials feels that Aami and Carbon should be removed from the competition citing conflict of interest. And the other half agree to disagree. Beena Paul told indianexpress.com, “I came to know about this issue only now. I don’t know the full extent of it. I also don’t know what is the stance of the producers. I have just done a small role in editing this film. There are many people who have worked both in front and behind the camera.”
Aami, directed by Kamal, is based on the life popular poet Kamala Das. The biopic starring Manju Warrier opened to a mixed response from the critics. On the other hand, Carbon, an adventure thriller, written and directed by Venu and edited by Beena Paul, opened to glowing reviews. It stars Fahadh Faasil and Mamta Mohandas in the lead roles. Some of the best technicians of Indian cinema worked on this film, including Bollywood filmmaker Vishal Bhardwaj, who scored music and cinematographer K. U. Mohanan.
According to the norm, the members of the executive committee will not be considered for the awards. However, other crew members of the movies they were a part of, can still take part in the competition.
In the meantime, it is only the producers who can submit and withdraw their films for the competition. Actors, director, or editor of a film cannot make that decision. The Academy may risk legal action from the producers if it unilaterally decides to remove certain films from the race.
According to reports, the government is trying to contain the issue from snowballing into a major controversy as the elections are around the corner.
The Academy has received more than 100 films under various competition categories.