Mumbai: It was Bollywood and box office biggies all the way at the 63rd National Film Awards on Monday. Southern magnum opus "Baahubali: The Beginning" was named Best Feature Film, while the Best Actor and Best Actors awards were taken by Hindi film stars Amitabh Bachchan and Kangana Ranaut, leading many to question why regional cinema and talent was sidelined.
Twitter was abuzz with users commenting and questioning the credibility of the awards, the process of which is coordinated by the Directorate of Film Festivals.
"According to the National Awards, only people associated with Hindi cinema need recognition. Regional cinema doesn't matter," one user shared, while another wrote: "And how come all of the major winners are from Bollywood? Whatever happened to regional cinema? National awards seriously losing credibility."
In fact, even director Gurvinder Singh, whose internationally acclaimed Punjabi film "Chauthi Koot" has been honoured with a National Film Award, has called the winners' list a "complete farce".
"All the main awards have gone to commercial films. 'Baahubali', which is a totally crap film has got the Best Film award. I think it is a BJP award and not National Award," Singh told IANS.
However, that didn't deter the winners from rejoicing over their victory.
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Amitabh, who has earlier won the National Film Award thrice for films like"Agneepath","Black" and "Paa", was honoured this time for his role in "Piku", and he thanked his fans for congratulating him.
Kangana, who has won National Awards twice earlier for "Fashion" and "Queen", has this time been lauded for her superlative dual act in "Tanu Weds Manu Returns". For the actress, who turned 29 last week, it is the "best birthday gift" ever.
The team of "Baahubali: The Beginning", which was a box office wonder, was "overwhelmed" with the win, which was further laced by the Best Special Effects Award.
While some other marvels of southern cinema have found a place in the list of winners, Bollywood clearly stole the limelight with "Bajrangi Bhaijaan" winning the Best Popular Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment; and Sanjay Leela Bhansali getting the Best Direction Award for "Bajirao Mastani", which also won the Best Supporting Actress award for Tanvi Azmi.
The period drama even emerged victorious in the Best Cinematography category, while Remo D'Souza won the Best Choreography honour for "creating enchanting moves" for the track "Deewani mastani", and Shriram Iyengar, Saloni Dhatrak and Sujeet Sawant won for the movie's production design.
In the audiography section, Biswadeep Chatterjee's sound designing and Justin Ghose's re-recording of the final mixed track for“"Bajirao Mastani", have been honoured.
Another big Bollywood winner was "Dum Laga Ke Haisha", which was not just named Best Hindi Film, but also won the Best Female Playback Singer for Monali Thakur for "Moh moh ke dhaage". The use of "fresh, simple array of metaphors" in the song by Varun Grover was appreciated with the Best Lyrics honour.
A Special Jury Award went to Kalki Koechlin for her "realistic performance as a young woman afflicted with cerebral palsy" in "Margarita, With A Straw", whereas Ritika Singh, a kick boxer-turned-actress, got a special mention for "gutsy performance of a boxer in the making" for the film“"Irudhi Suttr”" ("Saala Khadoos").
Neeraj Ghaywan, whose unusual drama "Masaan" found critical acclaim nationally and internationally, has been encouraged with the Indira Gandhi Award for Best Debut Film of a Director for "his perceptive approach to filmmaking in handling a layered story of people caught up in changing social and moral values".
As for regional cinema, actor-filmmaker Samuthirakan was given the Best Supporting Actor award for the Tamil drama "Visaranaai", for which late Kishore T.E.'s editing work has also been lauded.
This year, a special honour, Film-Friendly State Award was given for the first time, and it went to Gujarat.
Among the winners in the Best Music Direction category are: M. Jayachandran won Best Song for "Kaathirunnu kaathirunnu" ("Ennu Ninte Moideen") and Ilaiyaraaja won in the Background Score sub-category for "Thaarai Thappattai".
As for the Screenplay segment, the award for the Best Screenplay Writer (original) is shared by Juhi Chaturvedi ("Piku") and Himanshu Kumar ("Tanu Weds Manu Returns") -- who have even shared the Best Dialogue honour -- while the Best Screenplay Writer (adapted) award has gone to Vishal Bhardwaj for "Talvar".
"Nanak Shah Fakir", which has been named for the Nargis Dutt Award for Best Feature Film on National Integration, has even won for its costume designing (Payal Saluja) and make-up (Preetisheel G Singh and Clover Wootton).
Malayalam film "Nirnnayakam" was named Best Film on Social Issues, and Gaurav Menon won the Best Child Actor award for "Ben". Besides these, films in various languages like Marathi, Bengali, Assamese, Kannada, Konkani and more were chosen for awards; and talent in the non-feature film categories were also announced, apart from awards on film-related writing.