Mayank Shekhar is a well-known film critic, who is currently the entertainment editor of Mid-Day. He also served as jury member at the National Awards this year. This year’s results (especially Akshay Kunmar‘s win for Rustom) surprised many people, and chairperson of the 2017 National Awards, Priyadarshan also made an unfortunate remark regarding Akshay’s win –
Priyadarshan describing the state of Indian film awards – and his own lack of credibility as Jury head – with fine examples and analogies. pic.twitter.com/n5PO6kKpJH
— Aniruddha Guha (@AniGuha) April 8, 2017
Now, Mayank has written an article about the entire process and frankly, it’s pretty taxing. Here are some excerpts from this piece –
Forefathers of the criminal-justice system had clearly never imagined movies as a possible form of deterrence and punishment. I realised it could be an effective prison term, having endured nine days of 58 films, most of them terribly scripted/shot/enacted, one after another, in a loud volume, and the large screen emitting so much light that you could slouch on your seat, put your leg up on a small coffee-table if you liked, but you couldn’t sleep, or look away, even if you wanted to-staying afloat in a perennial state of dream, gradually descending into delirium.
There were 308 feature films in 29 languages to be viewed over 43 days. Just to give you a sense, some of the Bollywood movies that the filmmakers felt worth entering for a National Awards were ‘Gabbar Is Back’, ‘Katti Batti’, and ‘Prem Ratan Dhan Payo’.
Priyadarshan, as the chairperson of the 2017 National Awards, was pulled up on social media, for picking Akshay Kumar as the ‘best actor’ for ‘Rustom’ (along with, I’m told, ‘Airlift’). You could question his choice (or others’ from the past). But it merely suggests Akshay is/was Priyadarshan’s favourite actor, instead of the ‘best’. And isn’t he the judge? Guess, in that sense every award is fair, or only reflective of the jury. Unless of course, you can prove serious conflict of interest, or definite ‘jhol’ in intentions.
What did I learn sitting on the National Awards jury? Besides that an overload of bad movies can be a near-death experience? That there are some seriously stunning Indian gems to be found wading through gunk, that perhaps most of us would never see.
You can read the entire article here.