Punjabi filmmaker Gurvinder Singh’s film Chauthi Koot may have been honoured with a National Film award but the filmmaker is disillusioned with the treatment meted out to regional cinema by the jury. The filmmaker feels regional films are often sidelined when it comes to National Awards and commercial films like Baahubali and Bajrangi Bhaijaan take centrestage.
“This happens every year, it is very rare that the jury makes a judicious decision. National Awards are there to give encouragement to filmmakers who give different cinema. It’s not about box office success,” says Singh, adding, “I don’t think any sane jury will give an award to a film such as Baahubali. It’s full of populous Hindutva iconography. It’s just a bad calender art film.”
This year, Amitabh Bachchan bagged the award for Best Actor for Piku, while Kangana Ranaut won the Best Actress for Tanu Weds Manu Returns. Filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali won the best director for Bajirao Mastani and the Best Film award went to Baahubali. The filmmaker adds that National Awards are no different from other film awards. “Only regional films are pushed to the background,” he says.
Filmmaker Onir agrees with Singh and says, “I, too, was surprised by the absence of regional cinema at the awards in main categories. I am sure that there were some great regional films this year. Why were they not there? The jury needs to be more pan India,” he says.
However, filmmaker Hansal Mehta says differences in opinion are bound to come up. “Every year we have someone who agrees or disagrees with the jury. It’s a very tough task to choose. Also, It is unfair to make differentiations between various types of cinema -- mainstream or non mainstream, regional or Hindi cinema,” he says.
Actor Kareena Kapoor Khan also feels there must not be this divide in the industry. “Everybody keeps bifurcating cinema as commercial, regional, massy, art house or parallel. We are the ones to blame because we have given these names. We go and watch a movie and say, ‘It was nice, but a little arty’. A film is either good or bad. People who have selected these films or given these awards are sensible enough to make these choices,” she says.
Filmmaker R Balki adds that mainstream films, which have got awards this year, were deserving. “It’s incorrect to say that regional films are ignored at National Awards. I think the Bollywood films chosen this time are worth it. I think we should let the jury do their job,” he says.
Actor Arjun Kapoor says that it has become quite a trend here to object to anything that is happening. “Kuch toh log kahenge, logon ka kaam hai kehne. People in India have the habit of not being happy. It is very rare to find people who are genuinely happy for each other. They all see the problems but don’t want to find a solution. We should get rid of this thought process. People have been chosen as winners, appreciate it and embrace it. Work hard next time and get the award,” he says.