The spotlight has swerved away from Kolkata’s legendary Suchitra Sen and Mumbai’s veteran actress Sulochana. It is learnt that neither is likely to be singled out for the prestigious Dadasaheb Phalke Award presented by the central government.
Instead, the jury which decides upon the award is said to have shortlisted two names – Mumbai’s highly regarded film auteur and MP Shyam Benegal and Hyderabad’s film producer, studio baron and former MP, D. Rama Naidu.
According to insiders at the Information and Broadcasting ministry, chances are that it will be Benegal who will be bestowed the award.
Naidu could be the “dark horse” though because he has not been accorded an honorific yet by the central government and has often expressed his disappointment on being ignored.
The jury which makes the “recommendations” for the Dadasaheb Phalke Award includes film stalwarts Mrinal Sen, Adoor Gopalakrishnan and A Nageswara Rao, previous winners of the award.
Sources in the ministry said that earlier this year, the jury was miffed when the I and B minister Priyaranjan Das Munshi had told some media persons that Suchitra Sen would be honoured with the Phalke Award. The jury has insisted on its choice.
The snag is that the jury only “recommends.” In formal terms, it can be overruled. This had happened when Dev Anand received the Phalke Award despite vehement opposition of one of his peers in the jury.
The 72-year-old Benegal has directed over 25 films, starting with the internationally feted Ankur. The 71-year-old Naidu has produced over 110 films in Hindi and various south Indian languages.