New Delhi: Unlike last year when Bollywood dominated the National Film Awards, regional cinema took maximum awards this year as the winners were announced by the government on Friday.
In the four major categories, Akshay Kumar remained the sole Bollywood recipient, winning Best Actor for his patriotic turn in crime thriller Rustom. Malayalam star Surabhi Lakshmi was awarded Best Actress for Minnaminungu The Firefly, while Rajesh Mapuskar won Best Director for his Marathi comedy drama Ventilator. Marathi film Kasaav was named the Best Feature Film for 2016.
Amitabh Bachchan-starrer Pink, which championed the cause of women, won the award for Best Film on Social Issues, while Ram Madhvani’s biopic Neerja was named the Best Hindi Film of the year. Lead actor Sonam Kapoor earned a special mention for her performance in the film. Nagesh Kukunoor’s Dhanak emerged as the Best Children’s Film. Manipuri film Lokta Lairambee was announced the Best Film on Environment Conservation. Movies like Joker, Dashakriya, Reservation and Bisarjan emerged as best films in the Tamil, Marathi, Kannada and Bengali languages, respectively. Uttar Pradesh was selected as the most film-friendly state, while Jharkhand earned a special mention.
Aamir Khan’s blockbuster Dangal that currently stands as the highest grossing Indian film managed only one accolade—Best Supporting Actress for child star Zaira Wasim. The only other Bollywood name to feature in the list was Ajay Devgn’s Shivaay that won the award for Best Special Effects.
Out of the 344 feature film entries received, the Central government viewed 89 films.
Established in 1954, the National Film Awards have been administered by the Indian government’s Directorate of Film Festivals, along with the International Film Festival of India and the Indian Panorama. Apart from being considered the ultimate film recognition, they also hold the distinction of awarding merit across the country, and especially in regional cinema.
Every year, a national panel is appointed by the government to select winning entries, which are then awarded at a ceremony held in New Delhi by the President of India. The jury was chaired by veteran filmmaker Priyadarshan this year.
Harveen Ahluwalia contributed to this story