It’s been a Bollywood sweep at the Indian National Film Awards this year, and the industry has been rejoicing since Friday afternoon.
The winners — especially young, first-time winners such as Ayushmann Khurrana and Vicky Kaushal — are overjoyed to say the least.
Khurrana and Kaushal won the best actor award jointly for ‘Andhadhun’ and ‘Uri: The Surgical Strike’ respectively.
Describing the experience as “truly humbling and hugely gratifying”, Khurrana said the honour was “a validation of my hard work, my belief system, my journey in movies and my reason to be an actor.” He said director Sriram Raghavan deserved all the accolades “for creating a new genre of cinema for Indian audiences to enjoy”, and that he was “truly fortunate” to be a part of Raghvan’s vision.
“As an artist, ‘Andhadhun’ challenged me and made me a better actor,” he added, promising to continue on the “journey to discover and back cinema that truly stands apart and brings people back into the theatres”.
Kaushal admitted he was too excited to describe how he felt. “Words might fall short to describe the happiness I’m feeling right now. For my work to be recognised by the honourable National Film Awards Jury is truly a moving moment for me and my family. I wish to thank each and every member of the jury committee for finding me worthy of the prestigious best actor award,” he said.
About Khurrana, Kaushal added: “I’m also very happy to be sharing the award with someone whom I admire, both as a person and as an actor.”
Aditya Dhar won best director for ‘Uri’, and he believes his key to success is not giving up. “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm. Fifteen years of failures, rejections and hard work has lead to this moment and it just can’t get better than this. This is an honour I am going to cherish for the rest of my life. Being conferred with the National Award has been a dream since I understood what films meant to me,” said Dhar, thanking his family, producers, and the awards jury, and dedicating the honour to all the soldiers at the border. “You have selflessly dedicated your life to serve us and now it’s our time to dedicate everything we have to serve you.”
Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s ‘Padmaavat’ won big in the song and dance categories. Arijit Singh won best male playback singer for the song ‘Binte Dil’, and Bhansali won best music direction (songs). Kruti Mahesh Madya and Jyoti Tomar won the best choreography award for the song ‘Ghoomar’.
“I’m very happy and honoured. Music has always been a very important part of my life so this award is very special,” said Bhansali.
‘Pad Man’ won the award for best film on a social issue. Akshay Kumar stars in the movie, co-produced by his wife Twinkle Khanna.
“I was in the midst of ‘Mission Mangal’ promotions when Tina [his wife Twinkle] called me asking if ‘Pad Man’ had actually won a National Award for best film on social issues. The tiredness of promotions vanished on hearing the news. I remember how, on the sets of ‘Pad Man’, [co-star] Sonam [Ahuja] and I got the news of winning our respective National Awards last year. So life has come a full circle,” Kumar said. “I couldn’t be happier for Tina for winning the award with her debut production and, of course, R Balki for putting it all together, besides the entire team behind ‘Pad Man’. Not just that, Swanand Kirkire won best supporting actor for ‘Chumbak’, a Marathi film I presented. It’s been a rewarding day.”
‘Pad Man’ director R Balki was happy that the film had addressed the vital issue of the need for sanitary hygiene among rural women.
“I don’t expect any awards for any of the films I do. I just hope people like it. [I hoped so for] this film especially because it catches a subject that hasn’t been packaged anywhere in the world. To make a mainstream Hindi film on this subject was a fantastic thing and that’s what I am very happy about. Also, the award truly belongs to Arunachalam Muruganantham,” said Balki, referring to the man whose life and struggle to create cheap sanitary pads for rural women inspired the film.
‘Badhaai Ho’ won the best popular film award and best supporting actress for Surekha Sikri. Director Amit Ravindernath Sharma described the win as “overwhelming”.
“When we made this film we didn’t expect it to receive such a reception,” Sharma recalled, adding: “It’s nothing short of a dream come true.”
Surekha Sikri thanked the writers of the unconventional entertainer. “I am feeling really excited about this. It makes me so happy. I want to congratulate the writers of the film. They wrote a very good script. I also thank Amit Sharma for directing this film,” she said.
‘Badhaai Ho’ producer Aleya Sen added: “The win encourages us to push the envelope and make films that the country will be proud of.”
The win for ‘Badhaai Ho’ was a double honour for Khurrana, since he was the leading man of this film, too.
“I’m glad that a subject like ‘Badhaai Ho’ also won big today and I congratulate my director Amit Sharma for his breakthrough script that became a talking point in every household,” the actor said, adding: “It was a pleasure to collaborate with a forward-thinking creative mind like him and disrupt the stereotyped notions of what Hindi cinema should be.”
Rima Das’ ‘Bulbul Can Sing’ has been making waves on the international festival circuit for months now. It picked up the best Assamese film trophy at the 66th Indian National Film Awards. Das, who is currently in Melbourne, said she was “happy and overwhelmed”. The Telugu film ‘Mahanati’ won the best actress award for Keerthy Suresh, and also best costume designer for the team of Indrakshi Pattanaik, Gaurang Shah and Archana Rao.
“It is a proud moment, a dream come true. I dedicate this award to my team, weavers and the entire Mahanati family. Collaborating with a film of this scale gave a terrific opportunity to showcase handwoven Indian saris with great pageantry, and simplicity, narrating the fashion sensibilities of the legendary actress Savitri. The costumes of the film took 100 artisans and over a year to make,” said Gaurang, about designing costumes for the film, a biopic about the iconic actress Savithri.
The short feature ‘Chalo Jeete Hain’ won the award for best film on family values. “With extreme gratitude and humility we accept this great honour and dedicate this award to our hardworking and most inspiring Prime Minister Shri Narendra Damodardas Modi,” says director Mangesh Hadawale and producer Mahaveer Jain in a joint statement. This is the duo’s second national award.