THE JURY is yet to meet but the verdict, it seems, is already out. The case under consideration: the 2005 Dada Saheb Phalke Award.
Earlier this week, Information and Broadcasting Minister P.R. Dasmunsi announced his intention to award the Dada Saheb Phalke to either actor Suchitra Sen or Sulochana. He even sent an emissary, former Kolkata mayor Subrata Mukerjee, to convince Sen to accept the coveted award. The mission reportedly failed.
In all this, Dasmunsi jumped the gun.
The jury for the award, headed by director Mrinal Sen, has not considered the name of either Suchitra (Harano Sur, Shaptapadi, Shaat-Paké Bandha, Devdas, Aandhi) or Sulochana, the Bollywood star of yesteryear. Why? Because the jury members have not met even once. "We'll be meeting for the first time on August 29 in Mumbai to discuss the names," Mrinal Sen told HT. "I don't know from where her (Suchitra's) name has come up."
Normally, the jury submits a few names to the I&B ministry, which then ascertains if the artists are willing to accept the award. "Names of only those who're willing to accept are considered," said an official, indicating that Dasmunsi's announcement caught them unawares. Though Mrinal Sen has threatened to resign if Suchitra gets the award, Dasmunsi remains keen and is looking at other options, including talking to actor Moon Moon Sen, Suchitra's daughter.
Moon Moon says she is yet to be contacted but terms the idea of her mother getting the award "wonderful", maintaining it is premature to comment further.
She said she had not spoken to her mother about the media reports as yet.
Meanwhile as the controversy unfolds, the I&B ministry finds that the unofficially announced National Film Awards cannot be announced till the Bombay High Court gives a go ahead.