The winners of the 64th National Awards were announced today. But it has sparked a controversy as many brilliant performances were ignored.
Reportedly Priyadarshan who was the head of National Awards jury, has only rewarded his friends. So far, the director has been associated with Akshay Kumar in six Bollywood movies, including Hera Pheri, Garam Masala, Bhagam Bhag, Bhool Bhulaiyaa, De Dana Dan and Khatta Meetha, while he has helmed over 35 films with Mohanlal in the lead role.
Apart from Mohanlal and Akshay, even Tirru, who has worked with Priyadarshan in a few movies, has been selected as the best cinematographer. Mohanlal's Munthirivallikal Thalirkumbol which was released in 2017 is also in the list of 2016 films. Aprat from that many other winners are his close friends.
Talking about National Awards, Priyadarshan said,“Bollywood films have not lost, but the regional cinema has excelled. New attempt and new content was there from the regional filmmakers’ side. That’s why they have dominated. It’s not that Bollywood was bad. It’s because these people were better."
"For the Best Actor category, we had four people in the final round. Akshay had two films. Mohanlal had three films. Besides them, two other Bengali actors were there. Akshay and Mohanlal were the main two contenders.”
He justified Akshay Kumar's win by saying, “Sometimes, an actor looks impressive because of a tailor-made role. But that’s not an actor. An actor is somebody who does different roles and survive for years… So considering that we found Akshay the suitable one.”
By this logic, it seems that it was more of Lifetime Achievement Award, than for a performance. However Priyadarshan defended that by saying, “The selection criteria was basically on quality and the content of films. Regional films did well in both ways. With my 40 years’ experience in this field, I kept it in my mind that I will look it (films) as a jury chairman. Also, the jury was equally supportive to me. There is no biased decision made in any of the categories. That’s why you find a very well balanced result.
He also talked about India's biggest hit Dangal which released last year. "Dangal was recalled actually. I called it back to see it again. ‘Dangal’ missed out because of the powerful regional films. It’s not because of anything else. Some of the Marathi and Bengali films were brilliant and better.”
He also responded to the allegations. "I have heard of all that and I will answer it in a simple way. When Ramesh Sippy was jury head Amitabh Bachchan won. When Prakash Jha was head of jury, Ajay Devgn won. o none questioned at that time. So why all these questions are cropping up today.
Akshay was given the best actor on the basis of his performance in two films -- 'Airlift' and 'Rustom'. It was the jury's decision. One performance was dramatic and one was realistic.