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South Indian stars revel in National Awards

We chat to winner from Tamil, Malayalam and Kannada film industries following Wednesday’s announcement

  • Tamil film “Thalaimuraigal”.Image Credit:
  • Kannada film “December 1”.Image Credit:
  • Malayalam film “Perariyathavar”.Image Credit:
  • Tamil film “Thangameenkal”.Image Credit:

At India’s 61st National Film Awards ceremony on Wednesday, the south Indian film industry scored once again, with winners in several categories. We caught up with some of the winners — who include an 11-year-old Dubai resident — as they celebrated.

Tamil film Thangameenkal won Best Tamil film, Best Child Artist (for Dubai resident Sadhana, 11) and Best Lyricist (Na Muthukumar for the lyrics to Aananda Yaazhai).

“I am very, very excited about winning the National Award. When my mum and dad heard about it [Wednesday] at 3.30pm, I had just finished school and was eating my meal when mum and dad started crying. They were hugging each other and kept saying I had won. I am very happy and I want to thank the whole team of Thangameenkal for this,” Sadhana told tabloid!.

Asked if she will do more films, she said her mother has advised her to focus on her studies.

“The excitement on winning the National award was not that high, since we were kind of expecting some recognition,” director Ram said on Wednesday. “Thangameenkal has been travelling to several festivals over the last year and winning too. I was happy for Sadhana, who worked really hard and under difficult situations. The film after completion took three and a half years for its release. Sadhana had to wait that long to see herself onscreen. She deserved the award.”

“Muthukumar is a close friend of mine and I was happy for him when he was awarded Best Lyricist.”

Produced by JSK Film Corporation, Thangameenkal is centred on a father-daughter relationship. Taking a dig at the influence of commercials on innocent minds of children and pointing out the flaws in the present education system in India, Ram asks whether a child’s potential can be realised in a government school under the guidance of a good teacher.

Ram played the father while Dubai resident, Sadhana, played a special child. Ram deserves praise for not portraying a special child in the stereotypical mould. And no one understands children better, it would seem, from the dialogues he has written for his child actors.

Lyricist Na Muthukumar was “elated”.

“It places a greater responsibility on me to create better lyrics in Tamil. While there are many songs speaking of the love between a mother and her son, we can count on our fingers the few songs that talk about a father’s love for his daughter.”

Thanking Ram, composer Yuvan Shankar Raja and singer Sri Ram Parthasarathy, Muthukumar dedicated the award to his parents, his mentor, the late Balu Mahendra, his son, Aadhavan and Sri Sankara Gomathy, Ram’s daughter.

Produced by JSK Film Corporation, Thangameenkal is centred on a father-daughter relationship. Ram plays the father while Dubai-based child actor Sadhana plays a special child. Taking a dig at the influence commercials wield on children, the film also highlights flaws in the Indian education system.

Tamil film Thalaimuraigal won the Nargis Dutt award for Best Feature Film on National Integration.

This was the last film Balu Mahendra directed; he also played the lead role, that of a grandfather.

Thalaimuraigal is a tale of the bond shared between a grandfather and his grandson (child actor Karthik). Shot in natural light, cinematographer Mahendra left his signature style on every frame.

At a press meet before the film’s release, Mahendra had said: “I am facing the camera after forty years for this film. This film was born out of an urge to demonstrate to my students [referring to his film school, Cinema Pattarai in Chennai]. ”

Tamil actor Sasi Kumar, who produced the film under his banner Company Productions, released a statement thanking Balu Mahendra for giving him the opportunity to work with him.

Malayalam film Perariyathavar won Best Film on Environment Conservation/Preservation.

Dr Bijukumar Damodaran, a homeopathic doctor working at Kayamkulam Government Homeo Hospital won the national award for Best Film on Environment Conservation/Preservation this year. His Malayalam film, Perariyathavar (Names Unknown) garnered another award in the Best Actor category for comedian Suraj Venjiramoodu.

Awards are not new to Dr Damodaran. He has been counting awards right from his debut film, Saira, until his last release, Akasathinte Niram which won three Kerala state awards and one at New York Film Festival.

And, now with Perariyathavar, the director adds two more to his kitty.

The film, scripted by Dr Damodaran, narrates a story of marginalised people through the life of a widower and his eight-year-old boy.

“It depicts the real lives of these people living on the fringes of society,” he said.

Why did he choose comedian Venjiramoodu for the lead role?

“Suraj plays a municipality sweeper. I needed somebody ordinary looking and who could blend realistically into the story. Suraj did it well.”

Playing the sweeper’s son is his ten year-old son, Govardhan.

“Govardhan has acted in my earlier films and quite enjoys the process.”

Perariyathavar is awaiting a release date.

Kannada film December 1 won Best Screenplay Writer (P. Sheshadri) and Best Kannada film.

It would seem that winning awards is child’s play, if Kannanda filmmaker, P. Sheshadri is anything to go by.

From his maiden film Munnudi, which means preface, to his last film, Bharath Stores, in 2012, Sheshadri’s films have been recognised at the national level.

With December 1, Sheshadri has set a new record: the first director to win National awards for eight consecutive films.

December 1 is the story of a poor family in a village and the travails they undergo when the chief minister of the state visits them for an overnight stay.

“This story was sparked by a news report about the Village Stay, a project started by the Karnataka chief minister in 2006,” says Sheshadri.

“The caption read: They lost their own root because of Village Stay. It set me thinking.”

The film deals with how the ordinary villager gets exploited, and releases at the end of the month in India.