Whys of the 62nd National Awards

The 62nd National Awards were announced yesterday and as expected, Chaitanya Tamhane’s Court was adjudged the Best Film. The complete list of awardees is out on various sites across the net but what really interests us more then who or what is why the jury chose these particular films, or those particular performances. Read on:


Best Film: Court (Marathi, Gujarati, English, Hindi)
Court is a powerful and stark depiction of the mundaneness of judicial procedure revealed brilliantly by the film’s form, forcing us to reflect on the heart- wrenching insensitivity of institutional structures.

Indira Gandhi Award For Best Debut Film of a Director: Asha Jaoar Majhe (Bengali)
For the portrayal of routine ordinary life with extraordinary cinematic finesse.

Best Popular Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment: Mary Kom (Hindi)
For an inspiring tale of a woman who becomes a national icon through her determined pursuit of sporting excellence.

Best Film on Social Issues: Chotoder Chobi (Bengali)
For its empathetic portrayal of marginalized people and their struggle for a life of dignity.

Best Film On Environment Conservation: Ottaal (Malayalam)
Ottaal, a visual poem, expresses the beauty and serenity of the protagonist’s rural environment and a way of life whose value is measured by the poignancy of its loss.

Best Children’s film: Kaakkaa Muttai (Tamil) and Elizabeth Ekadashi (Marathi)
Kaakkaa Muttai for narrating a charming story of two brothers who are unaware of their deprived status and have a confrontation with the tastelessness of globalization.
Elizabeth Ekadashi is a delightful tale that reaffirms children’s ability to negotiate the complexities of life with relative ease.

Best Direction: Srijith Mukherji for Chotushkone (Bengali)
For its brilliantly reflexive use of the cinematic idiom through a playful and innovative mise-en-scene that tautens to an unexpected and gripping climax.

Best Actor: Vijay for Nan Avanalla Avalu (Kannada)
For his subtle and non- stereotypical playing of a woman trapped in a man’s body, portraying a gamut of emotions as s/he struggles through confusion, rejection and humiliation to finally chart her own course with confidence and dignity.

Best Actress: Kangna Ranaut for Queen (Hindi)
For an endearingly etched out performance that is grounded in contextual specificity and at the same time is disarmingly spontaneous as to appear almost impovisatory.

Best Supporting Actor: Bobby Simha for Jigarthanda (Tamil)
For an engaging portrayal of a dreaded Mafia don who plays both the villain and the comic with a rare flamboyance and abandon.

Best Supporting Actress: Baljinder Kaur for Pagdi: The Honour (Haryanvi)
For a very expressive performance as a gritty rustic woman who struggles as wife and mother to keep her family intact in a society obsessed with patriarchal honor.

Best Child Artiste: J  Vignesh and Ramesh for Kaakkaa Muttai (Tamil)
For their portrayal of inseparable siblings living in a slum who innocently struggle with rare dignity to acquire what attracts them in this vast market of products unleashed by a liberal economy only to realise the harsh reality of invincible class boundaries.

Best Male Playback Singer: Sukhvinder Singh for song Bismil from Haider (Hindi)
For a powerful rendition which effectively reflects the agony and anger of the protagonist.

Best Female Playback Singer: Uttara Unnikrishnan for song Azhagu from  Saivam (Tamil)
For evoking an emotional resonance through the purity and innocence of her voice.

Best Cinematography: Sudeep Chatterjee for Chotushkone (Bengali)
For exhibiting a wide spectrum of space and time while effortlessly knitting the emotional fabric of the film.

Best Original Screenplay: Srijith Mukherji for Chotushkone (Bengali)
For the masterful telling of a taut suspense thriller which weaves a sinister web around the journey and lives of four egotistical characters.

Best Adapted Screenplay: Joshi Mangalath for Ottaal (Malayalam)
For beautifully transposing Anton Chekov’s short story onto a canvas of nature that enhances the shades of the original.

Best Dialogues: Vishal Bhardwaj for Haider (Hindi)
For the multi layered and resonant dialogues that evoke angst and passion with crispness and brevity.

Best Audiography, Location Sound Recordist: Mahavir Sabbanwal for Khwada (Marathi)
For its excellent live sound quality which skillfully captures all the ambient sounds with the right tonal balance.

Best Audiography, Sound Design: Anish John for Asha Jaoar Majhe (Bengali)
For creating a beautiful soundscape, which enhances the narrative even in the absense of the spoken word.

Best Audiography, Re-recording Recordist: Anirban Sengupta & Dipankar Chaki for Nirbashito (Bengali)
For the seamless movement from chaos into the quietness of solitude while integrating various elements of sound.

Best Editing: Vivek Harshan for Jigarthanda (Tamil)
For structuring the different narratives of raw cruelty and urban cunning that eventually intermingle with positive and humorous overtones through skillful editing.

Best Production Design: Aparna Raina for Nachom-ia Kumpasar (Konkani)
For convincingly recreating spaces from a different era and with minute attention to detail.

Best Costume Designer: Dolly Ahluwalia for Haider (Hindi)
For capturing the essence of the characters and moods with creative flourish.

Best Make-Up Artiste: Nangaraju & Raju for Nan Avanalla Avalu (Kannada)
For the realistic creation of gender duality in a character through different phases of life.

Best Music Direction, Songs: Vishal Bhardwaj for Haider (Hindi)
For developing the conflict of the inner and outer landscape through haunting music


Best Music Direction, Background Score: Gopi Sundar for 1983 (Malayalam)
For maintaining the tempo of the film with an in-sync background score.

Best Lyrics: Na. Muthukumar for song Azhagu from  Saivam (Tamil)
For embodying the world as seen through the eyes of a child using common place images to make an appeal to an adult world.

Best Choreography: Sudesh Adhana for song Bismil from Haider (Hindi)
For the evocative fusion of performative grammars, interweaving a staccato whirling of masculinised bodies with larger than life puppets, to create a dance that is firmly embedded within the narrative.

Special Jury Award: Khwada (Marathi)
For a hard-hitting but restrained narration of the harsh realities of a nomadic shepherd community who are in search of stability.


Best Assamese Film : Othello
For its tangential evocation of the Shakespeare play as it explores mistrust and prejudice in a society ridden with political turmoil.

Best Bengali Film: Nirbashito
For its poignant articulation of the suffocation one experiences when exiled in a land that is not one’s own, as a price that is paid for asserting one’s right to freedom of expression.

Best Hindi Film: Queen
For a delightful portrayal of a young girl who emerges from her cocoon of diffidence and middle- class mores to discover the pleasure and fulfillment of a life lived on her own terms.

Best Kannada Film: Harivu
For the lingering pathos of a father’s struggle to provide medical treatment to his only child and his long trek back home.

Best Konkani Film: Nachom-ia Kumpasar
For its nostalgic recovery of a distinctive musical legacy, as told through the rollercoaster lives of its practitioners, that has remained unsung despite its influence upon Bombay cinema.

Best Malayalam Film: Ain
For its gently nuanced narrative in which a carefree young man embraces responsibility and compassion for the lives of others.

Best Marathi Film: Killa
For its warm portrait of a young boy as he emerges from the shadows of dislocation and loss in an unfamiliar environment to embracing what life has to offer.

Best Odiya Film: Aadim Vichar
For its vibrant portrayal of a tribal community whose enabling humanism shows a way out of pettiness and prejudice.

Best Punjabi Film: Punjab 1984
For its searing portrayal of how ordinary lives and simple dreams are shattered in a time of militancy.

Best Tamil Film: Kuttram Kadithal
For the pervasive empathy with which it examines the guilt and the anger that follows upon a school teacher’s impulsive slapping of a student.

Best Telugu Film: Chandamama Kathalu
For its skilful interweaving of stories featuring a variety of characters bound together by a common anxiety about securing their future.


Best Haryanvi Film: Pagdi: The Honour
For capturing honestly the abrasive fabric of a patriarchal society that places an inordinate premium on honour, and also offering the possibility of liberation through an acknowledgement of others’ pain.

Best Rabha Film: Orong
For its sensitive portrayal of a young man as he drifts through a life that offers little promise or excitement.


Musthafa in Ain (Malayalam)
For the minute and nuanced manner in which he assays the imperceptible transformation of a carefree youth into a compassionate and responsible young man.

Palomi Ghosh in Nachom-ia Kumpasar (Konkani)
For her extraordinarily energetic performance as a girl whose infectious passion for singing and love comes at enormous personal cost.

Parth Bhalerao for Killa (Marathi) and Bhoothnath Returns (Hindi)
For lovable portrayals with rare aplomb of an impish and caring child in both Killa and Bhootnath Returns.


Best Non-Fiction Feature Film: Tender Is The Sight
For its sensitive and lyrical portrayal of ten-year-old Hassirbullah, who, though visually challenged, creates a symphony of sounds. The film captures his universe, his life and his talent, softly and gently.

Best Debut Film Of A Director: Goonga Pahalwan
For its fun, yet mature portrayal of its protagonist, a champion at the Deaf Olympics. It pointedly questions the politics that impede this capable athlete’s route to the Rio Olympics.

Best Anthropological/Ethnographic Film: Qissa-The Parsi Story
For its light-hearted yet comprehensive telling of the story of India’s much loved community, the Parsis. It explores their history, the philosophy of their faith, their enterprise and their way of life, with delight and laughter.

Best Biographical/Historical Reconstruction: Aamaar Katha – The Story Of Binodini
For its stylistic and poetic portrayal of the 19th century theatre actress Binodini Devi’s autobiography.

Best Arts/Cultural Film: Kapila
For its unique and expressive rendering of Kapila’s sheer artistry over Kudiyattam, the world’s oldest theatrical art form.

Best Promotional Film: Documentation of Clay Image Makers of Kumartuli
For its extensive study of the craft and community of the clay makers in the context of changing times.

Best Environmental Film Including Agriculture: I Cannot Give You My Forest
For its concerned and empathetic exploration of the tribal communities in Rayagada, Orissa, who derive their sustenance and identity from the forest.

Best Film On Social Issues: Can’t Take This Shit Anymore and Daughters Of Mother India
Can’t Take This Shit Anymore for incisively highlighting the acute desperation of rural women and the problems they face from the lack of basic and essential facilities for sanitation.
Daughters Of Mother India for explicitly and determinedly turning the spotlight on the burning issue of rape in the country and the brutal mentality that drives it.

Best Educational Film: Komal and Behind The Glass Wall
Komal for effectively and concisely communicating essential information to children to protect themselves from sexual abuse.
Behind The Glass Wall for its exhaustive exploration of the world and challenges of the autistic and their caregivers.

Best Exploration/Adventure Film (To Include Sports): Life Force – India’s Western Ghats
For taking the viewer deep into the Western Ghats and engagingly revealing its rare and incredible biodiversity.

Best Investigative Film: Phum Shang
For its quiet and fair-hearted investigation of the fishermen communities and their floating dwellings on Loktak Lake, Manipur, even as government agencies and conservationists struggle to save the lake.

Best Animation Film: Sound Of Joy
For its flowing and engaging animation style in telling the stories from Vivekananda’s childhood and its emphasis on developing the power of concentration.

Special Jury Award: A Poet, A City & A Footballer
For demonstrating the power of cinema in weaving together life, poetry and reflections of its protagonist in the face of impending death.

Best Short Fiction Film: Mitraa
For its empathetic portrayal of its pivotal character’s sexual orientation, and the question of freedom around it. Shot in monochrome, the film adds to the antiquity for the era it is set in.

Best Film On Family Values: Towards The Silver Lining 
For its sensitive portrayal of a paraplegic girl who builds a house for her mother, and the touching bond between them.

Best Direction: Renu Sawant for Aranyak
For its existential definition of layered thoughts and emotion that move through a reflective search to end in an ironic arrival into the real.

Best Cinematography: Indraneel Lehri for Aamaar Katha – The Story Of Binodini
For its stunning and sensual visual imagery that brings the story of Binodini alive.

Best Audiography: Anindit Roy, Ateesh Chattopadhyay and Ayan Bhattacharya for Tender Is The Sight
The film travels through the imaginary line of manifest and unmanifest worlds of visual and sound that balance effortlessly, imprinting the audience with a haunting aural experience.

Best Editing: Andy Campbell Waite for Tigress Blood
For seamlessly structuring the worlds of four tigress sisters through an incisive cinematic arrangement of their outer spaces.

Best Narration/Voice Over : Ambooty Devi for Nithya Kalyani – Oru Mohiniyattam Patham
For the depth of its research and its poetic rendition of the history of Mohinyattam across the mighty empires along the riverbanks of Tungabhadra to Thanjavur.

Special Mention: Gunjaa, Side and Heek & 5 O’Clock Accident
Gunjaa for poignantly telling the story of Gunjaa, a young girl in Bihar, and her innocent but ironic understanding of death.
Seek and Hide for its fine juxtaposition of a child’s expression of fear with the unawareness of the parents to elucidate a complex story of paedophelia.
5 O’Clock Accident for its gritty story and compelling treatment of a voyeuristic teenager and the darkness that comes with his obsession.

Best Book On Cinema: Silent Cinema (1895-1930) by Pasupuleti Purnachandra Rao
Pasupuleti Purnachandra Rao’s work on silent cinema commands attention. It is as worthy of a scholar’s consideration as a common cinegoer’s time. He walks down the memory lane to come up with a work that is likely to go down as a benchmark for serious research in Indian cinema.

Special Mention: Pride of Tamil Cinema (1931-2013) by G Dhananjayan
G Dhananjayan’s Pride of Tamil Cinema deserves careful consideration for the sheer expanse of the work. The book is a painstaking effort which will have a relevance many years down the line.

Best Film Critic: Tanul Thakur
Tanul Thakur’s work is like a breath of fresh air. In brevity lies the strength of Thakur’s analysis of crests and troughs of Indian cinema. Without being didactic, Thakur is able to provide a different perspective to seemingly disparate elements and string them together in a lucid fashion.

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