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61st National Film Awards: 'It's the happiest moment of my life'

The 61st National Film Awards threw up some surprises, while other wins were well-deserved

The 61st National Film Awards for 2013 were announced yesterday. As usual, it sprung some surprises, but it also played safe with due representation of Bollywood and regional cinema.

'Shahid' bagged the Best Director and the Best Actor awards
'Shahid' bagged the Best Director and the Best Actor awards

However, what has raised eyebrows is the omission of certain films that were tipped to win. Ritesh Batra’s 'The Lunchbox', which created a controversy when it was not sent to the Oscars, was missing from the winners’ list.

'Bhaag Milkha Bhaag' won a National Award for the Best Popular Film Providing  Wholesome Entertainment; its song, 'Maston Ka Jhund', won the Best Choreography award
'Bhaag Milkha Bhaag' won a National Award for the Best Popular Film Providing  Wholesome Entertainment; its song, 'Maston Ka Jhund', won the Best Choreography award

Another film that is said to have not got its due is Abhishek Kapoor’s 'Kai Po Che!'. Many thought that Kapoor’s film would be honoured; similarly, several people expected that Vikramaditya Motwane’s 'Lootera' to win an award for its cinematography.

The documentary, 'Gulabi Gang', won in the Best Film On Social Issues category
The documentary, 'Gulabi Gang', won in the Best Film On Social Issues category

Though Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s 'Bhaag Milkha Bhaag' fetched honours, it did not bag one in the categories it set out to win in (Best Actor, Best Director). As expected, Hansal Mehta’s Shahid won in two categories.

'Miss Lovely' won for the Best Production Design and in the Special Jury Award category
'Miss Lovely' won for the Best Production Design and in the Special Jury Award category

'Ship of Theseus' was declared a winner in the Best Feature Film category
'Ship of Theseus' was declared a winner in the Best Feature Film category

Here's what some of the winners had to say...

‘It is the happiest moment of my life’
Rajkummar Rao bagged the Best Actor for 'Shahid'. He says, “I am extremely happy — I can say it is the happiest moment of my life. I am grateful to Hansal sir for giving me this opportunity of a lifetime. Acting in a biopic is a big high for any actor. I didn’t expect to win, but I really wanted to. This award has made my day. It’s time to party now that 'Shahid' has won two awards.”

Rajkummar Rao (left) bagged the National Award for Best Actor, and Hansal Mehta won the National Award for Best Director for their film, 'Shahid'
Rajkummar Rao (left) bagged the National Award for Best Actor, and Hansal Mehta won the National Award for Best Director for their film, 'Shahid'

‘It is a testament to Shahid Azmi’s spirit’
Hansal Mehta bagged the Best Director award for Shahid, which is based on the life of Shahid Azmi, a lawyer-activist who was killed in 2010. Says Hansal, “It is a testament to Shahid Azmi’s spirit. I also dedicate this award to my team who stood by me without having any monetary expectations.  I have been in the film industry for 15 years, but I have always been working on the fringes with no godfather to support me.”

‘It’s a big thing for me’
Ganesh Acharya
Ganesh Acharya bagged the Best Choreography for 'Maston Ka Jhund' from 'Bhaag Milka Bhaag'. Her says, “This is the first National Award in 23 years of my career. It is a big thing for me who began from the slums. It’s a proud moment for my mother. I guess this National Award was fated to be mine. I had earlier expected to win for Paathshala from 'Rang De Basanti' and 'Chamma Chamma' from 'China Gate'. This award will now boost my confidence and make me do better work. I feel on top of the world.”

‘I am grateful’
Subhash Kapoor
Subhash Kapoor’s 'Jolly LLB' bagged the Best Hindi Film. Her says, “I am happy for the entire team, including Arshad Warsi and Boman Irani. I am grateful to Fox Star Studio for backing a project like this and this was their first production in India. Not only has the film won in the popular choice category, but it has also bagged National Awards. No doubt, this is a big achievement for us. I am also very happy that Saurabh Shukla has won the National Award in the Best Supporting Actor category.”

‘I am humbled’
Girish Malik
Girish Malik won the National Award for Best Special Effects for his film 'Jal'. He says, “I was scared about the film’s fate as it was not arthouse nor was it typically masala. But it has thankfully received favourable reviews. I am humbled and what more could a debutant director ask for. Though we have done the rounds of film festivals, this award is extremely special. I am thankful to the producers who believed in me as well as the cast and crew who shot tirelessly in Rajasthan’s sweltering heat.”

‘A beautiful surprise’
Ashim Ahluwalia
Ashim Ahluwalia’s 'Miss Lovely' bagged theBest Production Design and Special Jury Award. The film, starring Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Niharika Singh and Anil George, premiered at the Cannes film festival in 2012, but it got a theatrical release only in January this year. Ashim was on his way to Bangalore when he heard the news. He says, “It’s a beautiful surprise to get two National Awards for 'Miss Lovely'. People who worked on the film deserve this award more than me. I could not have made this crazy film without them.”

‘I couldn’t believe it’
Shubhashish Bhutiani
Shubhashish Bhutiani’s 'Kush' bagged the National award for the Best Promotional Film. The director says, “I just couldn’t believe that I won the award and it’s still sinking in. It is hard to express how I feel about this, also since it’s my first film. I have won some awards abroad, but to get recognised in your own country is something else. There is a greater sense of acceptance when you realise that the people in the country could connect to the film.”

‘It came as a surprise’
Saurabh Shukla
Saurabh Shukla won the National Award for Best Supporting Actor for 'Jolly LLB'. He says, “This is my first National Award. I really had no idea that the awards were going to be declared today and it came as a big surprise to me. The National Award is the most prestigious award for any artiste and to get one is a huge honour. I have to say that I would not have been able to play the role of a judge the way I did, if it wasn’t for Subhash Kapoor’s (director) detailed research.”

‘I wish my father, who passed away last week, was there to see this’
Sohum Shah
Sohum Shah acted in Ship of Theseus, which bagged the Best Feature Film award, and was a distributor for Gulabi Gang, which won the Best Social Issues film award. He says, “I am happy that both the films I have been associated with have won. It is a good time for such cinema. The sad part is that my father, who wanted me to win the National Award, passed away a week ago. I wish he was there to see it.”

‘If Farhan Akhtar had bagged Best Actor, our happiness would have been complete’
Ajit Andhare of Viacom 18, the producers of 'Bhaag Milkha Bhaag', says, “Though the film has swept almost all popular awards, the National Award is special. With the film winning the award, our faith has been rewarded fully. This film has been close to our hearts.” Asked if they were disappointed about Farhan Akhtar not winning the Best Actor award, Andhare says, “His work has been appreciated by the audience and he has won most popular awards this year. He deserved to win and yes, our happiness would have been complete if he had won the Best Actor here as well.”

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