It was a southern sweep at the 58th National Film Awards, with Malayalam film Adaminte Makan Abu chosen as the best feature film, and Vetrimaran selected as best director for Tamil film Aadukulam. In fact, the two best actors — Salim Kumar and Dhanush — were selected from these two films as well. In a surprise move, the Awards jury urged the government to shell out an additional Rs.2.5 lakh to ensure that both actors, as well as the two women selected for the Best Actress Award and the four children chosen for the Best Child Artist Award, did not have to split the prize money as was usually the case. “We felt that they were all outstanding and could not be ignored…It was a unanimous decision,” said Bollywood filmmaker J.P. Dutta, who chaired the Awards jury. “We have recommended it to the [Information and Broadcasting] Minister Ambika Soni, and she seemed positive.” While Tamil films stole the spotlight, bagging 12 Awards, films from the other southern States too did well. Adaminte Makan Abu, which shows “humanist values freeing matters of faith from the constrictions of narrow parochialism”, bagged four awards, while Kannada films won in the categories for children’s films and films on environment. Set in the world of cockfighting, Aadukulam, “a gritty tale of love, jealousy and betrayal in the midst of blood-sport and violence, in the manner of realistic cinema”, bagged five awards. Apart from selected as Best Director, Vetrimaran was also deemed Best Original Screenplay Writer. The film won top honours in the editing and choreography categories too. Other Tamil films on the winner’s podium include Endhiran (Special Effects and Production Design), Thenmerkku Paruvakkatru (Best Actress for Saranya Ponvannan and Lyrics), Namma Gramam (Best Supporting Actress for Sukumari and Costume Design) and Mynaa (Best Supporting Actor for J. Thambi Ramaiah). Ten Awards went to Marathi films, including Baboo Band Baaja by debuntant director Rajesh Pinjani, which tells of a child caught in the crossfire of his parents’ arguments over his education. It bagged three awards, including one for child actor Vivek Chabukswar, who shared his award with Shantanu Ranganekar and Machindra Gadkar, who portrayed brothers in the Marathi film Champions and Harsh Mayar from the Hindi film I am Kalam. In fact, the jury has reportedly asked the Ministry to expand this section next year by presenting separate awards to male and female child artists. In the sweep of southern and Marathi films, Bollywood was pushed to the background this year with Dabangg (Best Popular Film) and Ishqiya being the only winners. “There were some truly great films from the south this year. They bridge the crassness of commercial cinema and the artistry of parallel cinema in a way that is reminiscent of Hollywood,” said jury-member and advertising filmmaker Prahlad Kakkar. Eminent filmmaker Gautam Ghose’s Moner Manush won the Nargis Dutt Award for Best Feature Film on National Integration. “What is important to me is that Moner Manush reaches an international audience, as does its message for greater tolerance with the emphasis on secular and liberal values, as embodied in the character Lalan in the film,” he told The Hindu here.
National Film Awards-2011