The winners of 67th National Film Prize were announced yesterday, and like every year, “You can’t make everyone happy.” Among the important highlights, Kangana Ranaut won for Panga & Manikarnika: the queen of Jhansi, Manoj Bajpayee got it for Bhonsle, Priyadarshan, Dhanush’s Marakkar And Mahesh Babu Maharshi won big. So where is the problem, you might ask? Well, let’s go.
There have been several puzzling questions that many ask after the winners were announced. Let’s answer these questions first and then take a look at the films, which indeed would have made it to the jury’s list for the awards but failed to win for various reasons.
How can Kangana Ranaut win for Manikarnika & Panga when the two films are released in different years?
Indeed, even though both films were released with an interval of years (Manikarnika: January 25, 2019, Panga: January 24, 2020), but both received the censorship certificate in the same year, namely 2019. While Manikarnika was certified by the Central Council of Film Certification (CBFC) on January 21, 2019, Panga received the certificate on December 30, 2019.
How does the National Film Awards process work?
Directors must submit their films to the Board of Directors before a specified period. If we consider the above case, the last date to submit the films was February 17, 2020, and as a result, Zee Studios and Fox Star India were able to make them eligible to win. So it’s entirely possible that a certain production house didn’t submit a movie from the list we’ve mentioned below.
Why Ajay Devgn’s Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior isn’t on the list?
Well, it’s a completely different article here. Wait for that!
Now that we’re clear with the specific questions and know the process, let’s get into the list of movies that few of you might think should have won instead.
Despite my complaints about Meghna Gulzar’s execution, I felt that Deepika Padukone’s portrayal of an acid attack survivor deserved further discussion. Was she a better option than Kangana Ranaut for this Best Actress award? Would things have been similar if she hadn’t visited JNU amid protests last year? These are burning questions that must have already found their way on social media (otherwise, let’s go!).
Not a single mention anywhere? My understanding is that there are over three dozen people picking movies out of thousands of options, but Ranveer Singh, Alia Bhatt has led Gully Boy “ excellent ” in many departments to get a shout out in the au minus one of them. Reema Kagti and Zoya Akhtar’s screenplay, Vijay Maurya’s dialogue, Jay Oza’s cinematography, and Nitin Baid’s editing were a few departments that could have shone.
Nights of Kumbalangi
This jewel of Madhu C Narayanan could be the most heartbreaking snub of the ceremony. There’s this ‘bad year release’ phenomenon, and there has been a plethora of award-winning Malayalam fantasy films. Still, my heart goes for the healthiest movie the human race can witness. Also, snubbing Fahadh Faasil’s performance in this regard should be declared a legal offense.
With some fine performances from the entire cast, the goal of winning Best Picture is questionable against Chhichhore. The two, contrasting differently, were meant to provide entertainment in their respective styles. Even though Chhichhore had an advantage as a full package, it had strong performances from Manoj Bajpayee, Ranvir Shorey, Ashutosh Rana & Bhumi Pednekar, aiming for Best Supporting Actor.
The acid attack is an evil that our society has faced for years, and the cinema has started to attack now. Uyare by Parvathy Thirovothu was a specimen of women’s empowerment. If this isn’t the best movie, surely Parvathy must have been a consideration for best actor. And how can you forget Zuby Johal & Rajiv Subba’s makeup and prosthetics?
While Sujoy Ghosh’s revenge drama is an official adaptation of The Invisible Guest, it has its own merits. We’re all aware of the process of not rewarding remakes, but this one was special. The subtle presence of Amitabh Bachchan & Taapsee Pannu not only strengthened the acting department, but also made it stand out from the original. Ghosh’s thematic connection with the Mahabharata epic was a welcome change in the story.
It can’t even be said that they never stumbled upon Geethu Mohandas’ Moothon. The film presented by Anurag Kashyap was well marketed and promoted. If there is one man who made the film, what is it, it is Nivin Pauly. His dedication and transformation deserved a spot on the winners list. Child artist Sanjana Dipu, another gem who graced the magical uplifting drama, failed to earn a mention. Even Roshan Mathew’s deep eyes couldn’t do magic?
Tim Gillis and Ben Kutchins’ camera captured the raw soul of the streets of Mumbai. Much like Jay Oza’s attempt at Gully Boy, even this film’s de-glam approach to the city came with small but dignified niceties.
I don’t think this movie even made it to the board for review. However, if Anubhav Sinha did send it, and it still doesn’t count for a single category, then there’s the problem you posed in the first paragraph of this article. The story of Gaurav Solanki and Anubhav Sinha made a powerful statement without sugar coating any fact. It was a shocking but necessary watch, but we won’t be able to know if this was considered even for a single category (or if it was submitted).
Despite the flaws of the film, Vidya Balan shone like no other. This film also aligns perfectly with the national awards model. This could have called into question Pallavi Joshi’s portrayal of a historian in The Tashkent Files, which earned her the award in the Best Supporting Actress category.
Joining the number of controversial films (Chhapaak, Article 15) is another underrated gem of 2019 – Ajay Bahl’s Section 375. I cannot point out the exact category for which this should have won or at least deserved a special mention, but I always want to celebrate its “cinema beyond entertainment” impact.
Okay, I’ve included this only and only for Vishal Jethwa. It also extends to a request to anyone – in addition to celebrating early directors, let’s also honor early stage actors. If only Vishal could get a special mention for his brutally honest performance in this film.
Special mention: Aashiq Abu’s ode to healthcare workers in Virus, a shattering manju Warrier from Asuran, Anna Ben’s heartbreaking performance in Helen.
Writer’s Note: If you made it this far, thank you. If you skipped it at this part, thanks to you too for the click. The films mentioned above are just those that I believe deserve a spot in the list of winners of the 67th National Film Awards. I don’t want to disrespect those who added this prestigious mention to their already important portfolios.
Must read: Thalaivi Trailer Review: Kangana Ranaut has a winner in his hands with this one!