Long time readers may have noticed that my news round-up posts have been less common lately. I am sooooooooo busy writing up Hindi Film 101 and answering Monday questions and all my other new-ish features that I haven’t had as much time for news. But today there were two big things that I just can’t ignore! Both of which I learned about through twitter (I do still follow @iamsrk and @karanjohar and all the other big newsmakers of the industry)
First, as I learned from various twitter congratulations, National Film Awards are out!
Best Popular Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment – Sathamanam Bhavathi
Best stunt choreography – Peter Hein (Pulimurugan)
Best Children’s Film – Dhanak (Hindi)
Best Film on social issue – Pink
Best Direction – Rajesh (Ventilator)
Best Actor – Akshay Kumar (Rustom)
Best Actress – Surabhi Lakshmi (Minnaminungu)
Best Supporting Actress – Zaira Wasim (Dangal)
Best Child Artist – Adhish Praveen (Kunju Daivam), Saj (Noor Islam), Manohara (Railway Children)
Best Male Playback Singer – Sundara Iyer (Joker)
Best Female Playback Singer – Thume jaake
Best Screenplay (original) – Syam Pushkaran (Maheshinte Prathikaram)
Best Screenplay (adapted) – Sanjay Krishnaji Patel (Dashakriya)
Best Editing – Rameshwar Ventilator
Sound designer – Jayadevan (Kaadu Pookunna Neram)
Best production design – 24
Best Costume Designer – Sachin (Marathi film)
Best Environmental film including agriculture – The Tiger who crossed the line
Best Make-up Artist – MK Ramakrishna
Best Music Direction – Babu Padmanabha (Kannada Lama)
Special Mention – Kadvi Hawa Mukthi bhava (Hindi)
Special Jury award for Mohanlal for Pulimurugan, Janatha Garage and Munthirivallikal Thalirkkumbol
Best feature films in regional languages
Wrongside Raju (Gujarati)
Pelli Chupulu (Telugu)
Maheshinte Prathikaram (Malayalam)
Ke Sara Sara (Konkini)
I’m pretty happy with all of this, thrilled by a few things, and extremely confused by two.
Pretty happy: nice to see so much regional acknowledgement, although I would have liked a couple more Hindi films thrown in, just to make sure the government knows they are what most people watch. But based on my limited knowledge, they all seem like fairly fair awards. Maheshinte did have a great script, I still haven’t seen Pulimuragan but I’ve heard that the stunts were the best part.
Thrilled: Dhanak and Neerja!!!! Two of my “best of” films from my 2016 awards (Dhanak was “most favorite” and Neerja was “best”), made it to the National List as well! If you haven’t seen either of them yet, highly highly recommended! And hopefully appearing on this list will encourage a few more people to watch them. Dhanak especially, it was barely in theaters and got tepid reviews, but it is a wonderful movie and more people should watch it and ignore the reviewers.
Confused: Rustom? Really? Akshay got best actor for that? In my awards, it was a strong contender for “Most Middle of the Road” movie (click here to see what film actually won that). And Akshay’s performance would be included in that “middle of the road” description. The man didn’t even bother to change clothes!!!!! Why in the world would he win this award? It’s a super unobjectionable film, nice patriotic message, historic subject, and so on. And it lets them give something to a hit film and a big star, just to make sure they get some news coverage. But, really? I mean, Shahrukh in Fan was clearly the performance of the year, even if you hated the film you have to acknowledge his brilliance. And if you didn’t want to give it to Shahrukh, there’s Aamir in Dangal as well. Amitabh in Pink, Sushant Singh in Dhoni, Ranbir in ADHM. Not to take anything away from Akshay, who is a great actor, but all of those are to me clearly better performances that Akshay in Rustom. And equally big name films with big name stars in the roles. It’s just…..Rustom? Really?
Confusing in a different way, why the heck did Mohanlal get a special jury award? I know he had a lot of movies come out this year, but doesn’t he always have a lot of movies come out? And isn’t he always good in them? What makes this year special? Is he dying? Is there an election coming up in Kerala? I’M SO CONFUSED!!!!
Moving on from the National Awards, other big news from Twitter! Shahrukh tweeted official production stills from his next nameless movie! The one from Imtiaz Ali with Anushka!
Two things about this: first, on the “meta” side of things, this means actual official promotions are starting, WOOT WOOT!!!! We’re looking at one to two more months of twitter buzz, then the first teaser, then the slow roll out of songs, then the actual trailer, and finally the film itself. But the process has started! I would say this means that we can be sure the July release date is set in stone now, because otherwise they wouldn’t start promotions. Except, remember Raees? We got through all the twitter buzz and the teaser trailer, and then the train got derailed and went nowhere for about a year. Very frustrating.
Second: PLOT GUESSES!!!!! We know they already filmed for a long long time in Europe. And now we are getting stills from the Punjab. So, I’m thinking we might have that traditional structure of first half urban/abroad, second half rural/Indian? Just like DDLJ, Purab Aur Paschim, and about a million others.
But this is not what Imtiaz usually does! It’s been ages since he’s had a grounded Indian setting for his films. That was a big part of the charm of Jab We Met, that it has these modern westernized characters, who were also comfortable moving through India on trains and buses and on foot. And a big part of what I hated about Tamasha was how India outside of fancy coffee shops and picturesque resort towns didn’t even seem to exist. Now, with these stills and what we already knew about the plot (in Europe, Anushka and Shahrukh, Shahrukh might be a tour guide), I have hope that it will turn into a love story in which they move as a couple from Europe back to the Punjab and are equally comfortable in both places.
Or else this is all just for one fantasy song sequence and the rest of the film takes place in Europe. Or there is some kind of flashback thing ala Love Aaj Kal. But I hope not!
Oh, and also, Shahrukh looks really good on a tractor.