Veteran Bengali film personality Soumitra Chatterjee was conferred the prestigious Dada Saheb Phalke award by Vice President M Hamid Ansari for his life-time contribution to Indian cinema, here on Thursday.
The Vice President also felicitated the winners of the 59th National Film Awards, at a function organised by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry.
Bollywood actress Vidya Balan received the best actress award for her role in “The Dirty Picture”, while Girish Kulkarni was conferred best actor award for Marathi film ‘Deool’. The best actor and actress get a Rajat Kamal and Rs 50,000 each.
Addressing the gathering, Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni announced that from now on, the National Film Awards will be conferred on the recipients on May 3 every year to commemorate the release of India’s first film “Raja Harishchandra”, on this day in 1913, at Mumbai’s Coronation Cinema.
The year 2013 would be observed as the centenary year of Indian Cinema, she announced.
“I’m really not in the frame of mind to say anything. I have always been in doubt about my work. I always thought that entertainment business was not worthwhile,” an emotional Chatterjee, who had turned down a national award 11 years back to protest bias against regional films, said after receiving the honour.
Full of zest for life at 77, the iconic Bengali actor had been the pivot of many of the legendary Satyajit Ray’s cinematic plots. Chatterjee, who made his debut in Satyajit Ray’s “Apur Sansar”, enjoyed huge popularity as a matinee idol in Bengal after legendary actor Uttam Kumar.
‘Byari’, the first movie made in Byari language, and ‘Deool’ shared the best feature film award which comes with a Swarna Kamal and Rs 2,50,000 in cash.
Best Kannada film award went to Kurmavatara, directed by Girish Kasaravalli and produced by Basant Kumar Patil.
Gurvinder Singh from Punjab was conferred the best director award with a Swarna Kamal and Rs 2,50,000 in cash for his film ‘Anhe Ghorey Da Daan’. The film also won awards for best cinematography and best Punjabi film.
Anand Bhate, winner of best playback singer (male) award, performed from his film ‘Balgandharva’ (Marathi), while actress Roopa Ganguly sang from ‘Abosheshey’, for which she won the best female playback singer award.