The National Film Awards will never be the same again. The judging process for the awards will now have a two-tier system, according to which a film will first get judged at the regional level.
After this, filtered content will go to the national jury, chaired by veteran filmmaker Shyam Benegal and including others such as Sharmila Tagore, Nagesh Kukunoor, Vishal Bhardwaj, Waheeda Rehman and Jahnu Barua.
"It’s a much-needed change," says filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt. "It’ll reduce the burden on the central jury and ensure that only the best products reach them." Actress Rituparno Sengupta feels that with such a system in place, "regional movies will get their proper place on the national forum."
"Representatives from regional communities can ensure their films get priority to compete at the national level," she says. However, some fear that the new rules, which will come into effect from the 2010-2011 awards, may make the process biased and that ignorance at the regional level may be a problem.
“I’d prefer selection at a national level so jury members can decide on the basis of comparative merit and not regional considerations,” says filmmaker Pritish Nandy.
However, Benegal reassured that apart from having three members from a their own particular region, each fve-membered regional jury will also have two members from outside that area, to avoid any bias.