Bollywood thespian Dilip Kumar received a standing ovation at the 54th National Film Awards ceremony when he was conferred with the lifetime achievement award on Tuesday by President Pratibha Patil.
Patil gave the award to Dilip Kumar, who came on stage accompanied by wife Saira Bano, who is also an actress.
The 85-year-old actor, who has delivered landmark performances in films like Devdas (1955), Mughal-E-Azam (1960), Ganga Jamuna (1961), Karma (1986) and others, graced the occasion despite his ailing condition. He could even barely walk to the stage.
Apart from Dilip Kumar, the lifetime achievement award was also conferred on melody queen Lata Mangeshkar and southern actress B. Saroja Devi to commemorate the 60th anniversary of India's Independence in 2006.
Though B. Saroja Devi and Dilip Kumar were present at the event to collect their awards, Lata's nephew, Adinath Mangeshkar, received the honour on her behalf.
It was Bollywood's day at the National Awards with the heart-warming Lage Raho Munna Bhai bagging four awards for best popular film providing wholesome entertainment, best screenplay, best lyrics and best supporting actor.
"It's an honour to receive the National Award. It comes at a time when you have forgotten about it. I'm really happy to get the recognition," Raj Kumar Hirani, the director of the film who brought Mahatma Gandhi back into the popular reckoning, told IANS.
Vidhu Vinod Chopra, the producer of Lage Raho Munna Bhai, was present with his entire Munnabhai team at the award ceremony but when his name was announced, he was nowhere to be seen. He made a hasty appearance a few minutes later to collect his award.
Konkona Sen Sharma, who got her second award, was equally excited and said: "You feel great when your hard work is recognised. I'm really happy and elated.”
Another Bollywood filmmaker, Vishal Bharadwaj was honoured here. He received best jury award for his critically acclaimed Omkara, based on William Shakespeare's play Othello.
Madhur Bhandarkar was honoured with the best director award for Traffic Signal, a film that probes the underbelly of Mumbai. This was his third National Award after Chandni Bar and Page 3.
Bhandarkar said he will give the prize money to Vidarbha farmers.
The Indira Gandhi Award for the best first film of a director went to Aditya Chopra and Anthony Joseph for Kabul Express and Ekantham respectively.
Khosla Ka Ghosla won the award for the best feature film in the Hindi language category.
Writer-columnist Jerry Pinto, bagged the award for the best book on Indian cinema, Helen: The life and times of an H-Bomb.
The unsung Bengali film industry got a shot in the arm with acclaimed director Tapan Sinha receiving the highest celluloid honour Dadasaheb Phalke Award.
The veteran director, who has won 19 National Awards for his work like Kabuliwala, Ankur and Jhinder Bandi (Prisoners of Zenda), couldn't attend the ceremony because of ill health. His son Anindya Sinha, a science professor, received the award on behalf of his father.
Bengali film star Prosenjeet Chatterjee bagged the prestigious award for Dosar and said it is an encouragement to the film fraternity.
"The award should be taken in the right spirit. India is a huge country and is full of talent. It's not possible to honour everybody. This year, two new Bengali directors have received the award for their first films and it encourages them to do better work," said Prosenjeet, who doesn't feel that controversies have any bearing on the reputation of the award.
Kolkata-based veteran actor Soumitra Chatterjee, who was awarded for his performance in Podokkhep, was resplendent in a traditional Bengali dhoti-kurta.
Directed by Priyanandan, Malayalam film Pulijanmam won the best feature film award. It is a layered film that uses metaphors to address global and local issues of contemporary society. The best feature film award carries a cash prize of Rs.250,000.
This year the prize money has been hiked by five fold.
"We made a request last year to increase the amount and this year the promise has been fulfilled. The motive behind it was to encourage the film fraternity," said Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi.
Tamil movie Kittu bagged the award in the best animation category.
While well-known Punjabi singer Gurdas Maan bagged the best male playback singer trophy for the Punjabi film Warisshah - Ishq Da Waris, Manjeet Maan to the best costume designer award for the same movie.
She came on stage sprinting attired in trouser, white shirt and sneakers.