National film awards up for overhaul


 Prakash Raj receives the best actor award from President Pratibha Patil. AP

The Information & Broadcasting Ministry is soon setting up a panel of eminent personalities to look into the entire gamut of film industry and suggest measures to make the Awards more representative of the latest developments in the world of movies.

I&B minister Ambika Soni, while announcing the move at the presentation ceremony of the 55th National Film Awards here on Wednesday, did not elaborate, but the indication apparently was towards including newer formats of filmmaking, such as digital, in the ambit of the awards.

As of now, non celluloid format films are considered for awards only in the non-feature segment, while to be eligible to enter in the competition for the feature section, films made in digital or any other format must have a 35mm print.

“Shortly, a panel of eminent persons would be constituted to consider the entire scenario and propose steps to make the National Film Awards more focused and suggest measures which would reflect the newer developments happening in the field of cinema,” Soni said in her welcome address.

“There is a need to reinvent the National Film Awards to make it more contemporary,” she said.

The ceremony, which saw Prakash Raj receiving the best actor award for Priyadarshan’s Tamil film ‘Kanchivaram’ and Umashree the best actress award for Girish Kasaravalli’s ‘Gulabi Talkies’ from President Pratibha Patil, was marked by a refreshing initiative this time that made the otherwise stiffly-official function a bit relaxed.

The initiative, for which the Directorate of Film Festivals received generous appreciation, was in the form of live performance of the award winning songs in the male and female categories, by Shankar Mahadevan, who sang ‘Maa’ from ‘Taare Zameen Par’, and Shreya Ghoshal, who rendered ‘Yeh Ishq Haiyen’ from ‘Jab We Met’.

The function also saw legendary singer Manna Dey receive a prolonged standing ovation as he received the Dada Saheb Phalke Award for the year 2007 from the President.

Among the prominent award winners were Adoor Gopalakrishnan, who received the best director’s Swarna Kamal for ‘Naalu Pennungal’, Priyadarshan, whose film ‘Kanchivaram’ got the best feature film Swarna Kamal, and Girish Kasaravalli, who received the Rajat Kamal for the Best Film in Kannada for ‘Gulabi Talkies’.

Patil, addressing the gathering after presenting the awards, pointed out towards the increasing importance of Indian cinema in the global arena, and also to the social responsibilities filmmakers have to exercise considering the power of the medium.

“Cinema should not only be a source of popular entertainment for families and individuals, but also a vehicle for social change…films can fulfill a very important role in making individuals compassionate and acting as emotional intergrators in society.
I am sure that the film fraternity will continue to understand this responsibility in its fullest sense,” she said.

Patil also made a special mention of Sharad Goyekar, who won the Best Child Actor’s award for the Marathi film ‘Tingya’, even as his proud parents who belong to a nomadic shepherd community living near Pune, looked on proudly.

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