Punjabi cinema finally reached the national podium with filmmaker Gurvinder Singh winning the 59th National Film Award for Best Director on Wednesday.
The movie, Anhey Ghore Da Daan, not only made Gurvinder the first Punjabi filmmaker to win such a coveted award, but also won two more national awards - Best Punjabi Film Award and Best Camera Work Award - becoming the first-ever Punjabi movie to win three National Film Awards together.
Talking to Hindustan Times from Pune, the 38-year-old filmmaker said, "This award means a lot to me, especially because it comes from my people, who understand the culture and the social perspective of the movie."
Gurvinder Singh also won the award for Best Direction at Abu Dhabi Film Festival last year. The film has also been nominated by the US Journal Film Comment among 2011's 10 Best Films of The World.
This low-budget Punjabi film, financed by the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) in 2011, is based on Punjabi novelist Gurdial Singh's book of the same title. The book poignantly highlights Punjab's Dalit crisis, while drawing attention towards the issue of landless farm labour.
Author Gurdial Singh said, "I am elated at the movie's win, which has not only brought a major issue to the limelight, but has also helped Punjabi literature gain recognition."
A Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) graduate and a disciple of late filmmaker Mani Kaul, Gurvinder said he would continue to make movies in Punjabi itself.
"In moving making, how you tell a story is of utmost importance. I was able to express myself in Punjabi, and will continue to do so. Also, the movie has been a success because I could relate to Gurdial Singh's novel," he said and added, "After watching the movie, many said the movie was made for intellectuals and art connoisseur. I would request them to not undermine the masses. It is a movie for the people, and I hope this award helps attract a large number of audiences."
As per the information, this is the first Punjabi film to receive an award in the overall National Award category. The previous Punjabi movie to have won the National Award in Best Punjabi Film category was Late Manoj Punj Waris Shah's Ishq Da Waris.
Interestingly, Anhey Ghore Da Daan is Gurvinder Singh's debut movie. His next movie, the shooting for which is expected to begin by yearend, is said to be set during the Operation Blue Star in Punjab.
The award distributing ceremony will be held in New Delhi on May 3.