The 63rd National Film Awards were announced recently, and then we read all the reports in various newspapers and sites. Strangely, they all sounded the same without any homework, or didn’t even give any extra information other than what the official press release says. So we were forced to step in, do some homework, and BOOM!
Since we strongly believe that any award always say more about the jury and less about the film, we had to figure out this jury panel which went with Baahubali as the Best Film. A decision which was criticised strongly by many. In an era when most prestigious film awards brag about their strong jury, two desi jury panels are still kept as a secret – National Film Awards and the jury which selects India’s entry to Oscar Foreign Language Film. Strange. Why? We are scared of being answerable for making bad choices?
We met one of the jury member from the South panel, and he spilled out all the beans. So here’s more on this year’s jury and the selection process. All the inside dope. #JanhitMeJaari
– At first stage, 5 regional panels were formed with 5 jury members in each panel. Every panel represented one region – like one for North, West, East each, and 2 for South as it has too many languages in which films are made. If North panel was responsible for shortlisting films/talent from Hindi, Punjabi, Haryanvi films, West panel was responsible for Marathi/Gujrati/Konkani language films, and East panel was responsible for Bengali/Oriya/Mizo/Manipuri and others.
– These 5 panels watched all the films which were submitted and shortlisted names in each category. These names were then sent to the Central panel.
– After the first phase of shortlisting was done, 1 member from each panel moved to the Central Panel. So that’s 5 members in Central Panel. 6 more members including the Jury Chairman Ramesh Sippy joined the panel making it a panel of 11-member jury.
– So who were these 11 members who took the final call?
- Ramesh Sippy
- Satish Kaushik
- Munin Barua (from Assam)
- K Vasu (Andhra Pradesh)
- S R Leela (Karnataka)
- Shyamaprasad (Kerala)
– The 5 members who came from 5 regional panels are as follows
7. Dharam Gulati (South panel)
8. Gyan Sahay (East panel)
9. Sanjib Datta (North panel)
10. Gangai Amaran (West panel)
11. John Mathew Matthan (South panel)
– When we asked how come Hindi/bollywood films bagged a whopping 22 out of 32 awards in main categories? The jury member said that it’s the case of old joke of Railway Ministry. Earlier they used to joke that from whichever state the Minister comes from, all the new trains start going towards the same state. It seems to be the same case this time. Look at the 11-member panel. More than half are from bollywood, and 2 senior strong members were there who dictated almost every choice. Rest were just yes-men. And that’s why some weird process was followed in the Central panel.
– The jury member told us that he was informed about the strict rules and regulations which clearly state that if you have any close relatives in the running, you shouldn’t be part of the jury. Now, Gangai Amaran is Ilaiyraaja’s real brother. And Ilaiyraaja won the award for the Best Background music in Tharai Thappattai. Hmmm. Either our jury member was misinformed or such rules don’t exist. Enlighten us please.
– In one of the acting category, the final choice that was made was not even recommended by any of the panel. The choices that were given was discarded by the Jury Chairman and he proposed a new name, and strongly struck to it. The chairman discarded one of the proposed names (who is easily one of country’s best actor) saying he is not in lead role in the film. When one of the members pointed out that by the same logic, the name that he is proposing is also not in lead role, the argument was dismissed blatantly.
-Similarly, in another acting category, the Chairman proposed a new name out of the blue and decided that she should win when her name was not recommended by any panel.
– The voting happened in only 2 categories.
– A film which got unanimous rave reviews (nationally and internationally) when it released, had got strong recommendation in 4 categories (debut, screenplay, best supporting and special jury). But none of them were considered. There was an unwritten rule that nothing will go to this film as one of the producers of the film had made headlines when he returned his previous National Award.
– Another film which had a great production design (for its period setting) and was close contender for best production design as it was strongly recommended by the first panel, it was also dismissed because of same reason – the director was part of #awardwapsi gang.
– The Central panel went with the recommendation of regional panels for best film in various languages except for Hindi and English language.
– For Best Hindi language film, two two names that were proposed by first panel were discarded as one of the Jury member proposed a new name and strongly stood for it. The joke in the Central panel was the theme of the film must have resonated with the jury member as he has similar features like one of the film’s lead.
– An actress was in running for Special Jury Award for an unreleased film. But since she had voiced her opinion strongly about a recent news event, and had even written about it, her name was quickly dropped.
– A major talent who is not really pro government, has bagged an award this year. The jury member said there was no chance that he was going to win. Luckily, there was hardly any good submission in the category. And his work was exemplary in that category. So they had no choice but to award him. Last time when his film bagged few awards, his name was put in the “to be watched” list.
For complete list of National Film Awards, click here.
– Team mFC
UPDATE – As pointed out by @atlasdanced, it seems Gangai Amaran has clarified that he abstained from voting when Ilayraja’s work was discussed. One more report here. Anyone has more clarity on the rule and the process?