President Pranab Mukherjee on the 104th anniversary of Indian cinema here on Wednesday, presented the 64th National Film Awards to winners, including eminent film director and actor K. Viswanath who was named for the coveted Dadasaheb Phalke Award. Viswanath, 87, received the award with immense pride, and offered ‘pranaam’ to his late parents. He thanked the Almighty, government officials, jury members and his fans for their love, as the audience gave him a standing ovation.
The presentation saw a plethora of talent from different parts of the country, with the President describing the hall at Vigyan Bhavan as a ‘mini India’ representing the unity and integrity which are unique to the country. Mukherjee praised how the National Film Award winners are almost a ‘microcosm’ of the diversity in the country, where several regions, religions, languages, cultures and customs thrive.
Union Information and Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said the award ceremony is a “celebration of cinema which is religion of all religions in our nation”. Naidu said the ‘Make in India’ theme is being reflected well in recent movies like ‘Sultan’, ‘Dangal’ and ‘Baahubali’.
This time, regional cinema talent dominated over Bollywood in the winners’ list. When Bollywood action star Akshay Kumar took the stage to receive his first National Award, the audience cheered and stood up to applaud his achievement. Akshay won the Best Actor honour for ‘Rustom’, and his wife Twinkle who was in the audience seemed emotional.
From Bollywood, there was also actress Sonam Kapoor who won a Special Mention for her role in ‘Neerja’, which was named the Best Hindi Film. Her father Anil Kapoor displayed childlike excitement as he stood up to capture the special moment.
Malayalam actress Surabhi C.M. received the Best Actress award for ‘Minnaminungu – the Firefly’ at the evening, which saw performances by Best Playback Singer award winners Sundharayyar and Iman Chakraborty. The six industries of the south — Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Tulu and Konkani — bagged a total of 18 awards, while movies from Assam, Bengal, Maharashtra and Manipur also won in different categories.
Marathi film ‘Kasaav’ won the Best Feature Film; filmmaker Rajesh Mapuskar was named as the Best Director for “Ventilator” and the Best Popular Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment Award was given to Telugu film ‘Sathamanam Bhavathi’. The Best Film on Social Issues was given to Bollywood film ‘Pink’, while Nagesh Kukunoor collected the Best Children’s Film honour for ‘Dhanak’.
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The Supporting Actors category saw Kashmiri girl Zaira Wasim and Manoj Joshi winning for their performances in ‘Dangal’ and ‘Dashakriya’ respectively. There were special mentions for films ‘Kadvi Hawa’ and ‘Mukti Bhawan’ as well as for actor actor Adil Hussain for ‘Mukti Bhawan’ and ‘Maj Rati Keteki’. Veteran actor Mohanlal was chosen for a Special Jury Award for his performance in three films, and he got a standing ovation too.
The Best Special Effects went to Naveen Paul for ‘Shivaay’, while the Best Animation Film was won by ‘Mahayoddha Rama’. Other awards included: Best Film on Environment Conservation/ Preservation for Manipuri movie ‘Loktak Lairembee’, Nargis Dutt Award for Best Feature Film on National Integration for Assamese movie ‘Dikchow Banat Palaax’; and Indira Gandhi Award for Best Debut Film of a Director went to Deep Choudhury for Bengali film ‘Alifa’.
A new award that has been constituted is Best Action Director (Stunt Choreography), which was won by Peter Hein for Malayalam film ‘Pulimurugam’. The awards were also presented for the non-feature film category and for best writing on cinema.