National film awards must reflect our nation

Now that the 61st National Film awards for 2013 have been announced, the usual cheers and jeers are bound to follow. Like every year, there are some issues that the board seems to be grappling with.

For starters, while some of the choices are laudable, several films that won international acclaim last year seem to have fallen on the jury’s blind spot. Take The Lunchbox, for instance, which won several awards internationally.

Regional films too have been sidelined this year. While regional films do get their due in their individual categories, one cannot help but notice that this somehow allows for them to be unjustly ignored in most mainstream categories.

Almost every year, the winner in the category of ‘best popular film providing wholesome entertainment’ is invariably a Hindi film. (This year it went to Bhaag Milkha Bhaag). This happens even when some of the offerings from the south have generated far more revenue than their Bollywood counterparts, and by that logic, more entertainment.

Not a hindi film awards
A part of the jury still seems to treat the National awards as a film awards for Hindi cinema, and believes in giving regional films the kind of treatment that the Academy awards is known to give foreign language films.

But there were good changes too. What’s heartening is that this year, the board introduced a refreshing new set of guidelines to minimise lobbying. The names of the jury members were not announced this year, thus shielding them from direct requests and calls from filmmakers.

Not that this method is completely free of loopholes. The move did come under fire because of the ‘lack of transparency in the selection process’, but it seems to have worked otherwise, as most of the jury’s choices this year have been unanimously accepted and appreciated as deserving.

We look forward to a few more radical changes that will, hopefully, bring more regional films into its fold and give them their due, so that the awards can be truly considered the ‘national’ film awards.

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