The Vice President, Shri M. Hamid Ansari has said films played a significant role in portraying the linguistic and regional diversity of our culture. Indian cinema had successfully adapted traditional Indian narrative and oral traditions to the requirements of technology and formats of new media. Our films had become ambassadors of our culture, tradition and society. They fostered people-to-people relations and promoted our image and interests that had enduring significance. Indian commercial cinema formed a principal element of our culture and impacted the lives of the people. The Vice President, Shri M. Hamid Ansari stated this while delivering his address at the 59th National Film Awards function in New Delhi on 3rd May, 2012.
Elaborating further, the Vice President said selection of two films in regional languages as the Best Feature Films, was an achievement for regional film industry. It was an under-appreciated fact that over 80 per cent of the films certified for public exhibition were regional films. Complimenting Dada Sahab Phalke Award winner, the Vice President said the partnership of Shri Soumtira Chatterjee with Satyajit Ray could be counted as a memorable director-actor combination in the history of cinema. The Vice President also lauded the 11 children who had won the Best Child Artists Awards for the 59th National Film Awards.
Speaking on the occasion, Minister for Information & Broadcasting, Smt. Ambika Soni said that the year 2013 would be observed as the Centenary year of Indian Cinema. India’s first full length feature film “Raja Harishchandra” was released on 3rd May 1913 at Mumbai’s Coronation Cinema. To commemorate the release of India’s first film, the National Film Awards Ceremony would now on be held on 3rd of May every year.
The Minister added that cinema had always been the social mirror of Indian society, acting as a catalyst and believing in the power of ideas, human relationships and the plurality of Indian culture. She stated that cinema reflected the vast diversity and the intrinsic plurality of the Indian society. These awards have encouraged young film makers to believe in the “Essence of Good and Meaningful Cinema”. Elaborating further, the Minister stated that regional languages continued to be the mainstay of Indian cinema and that the National Film Award was an acknowledgement of good cinema irrespective of language barriers and budgetary constraints. The recognition given to offbeat film reflected the depth of national awards on the one hand and at the same time would encourage film makers in many other regional languages to make quality films.
On the occasion, the Minister mentioned that few projects were being undertaken by the I&B Ministry to commemorate the centenary celebrations of Indian Cinema. The first related to the setting up of the “National Heritage Mission”, to digitalise and restore all audio and video tapes of Indian films for which over Rs.500 crores have been set aside in the XII Five Year Plan. The second project pertained to the setting up of the Museum of Indian Cinema. It would be housed in the Films Division Complex in Mumbai. The Heritage building of Gulshan Mahal, a popular filming location would be restored by December, 2012 and the new museum building would be ready before May, 2013.
Complimenting the winners, the Minister said that through their ingenuity, skills & talent, they had provided entertainment which has woven together the people of this country into one proud nation.
The highlights of the 59th National Film Awards are as follows:
The top honour in the Feature Film category, the Best Film is shared by films Deool (Marathi) produced by Abhijeet Gholap & directed by Umesh Vinayak Kulkarni and Byari (Byari language) produced by T.H. Althaf Hussain & directed by Suveeram. The award carries Swarna Kamal and cash prize of Rs. 2,50,000/-. In Non-feature film category the top honour , Best Film goes to And We Play On (Hindi & English)directed and produced by Pramod Purswane . The awards carries Swarna Kamal and Cash prize of Rs. 1,50,000/-. In Best Writing on Cinema category the Swarna Kamal goes to the book titled R.D. Burman – The Man, The Music written by Anirudha Bhattacharjee & Balaji Vittal, published by Harper Collins India. Whereas Manoj Barpujari from Assam has been awarded Best Film Critic.
In Feature Film category, five films have won three awards each. These Films are The Dirty Picture (Hindi), Balgandharva (Marathi), Anhe Ghorey Da Daan (Punjabi), Deool (Marathi) & Ranjana Ami Ar Ashbo Na (Bengali). Six films have won two awards each. These are Chillar Party (Hindi), Azhagarsamiyin Kuthirai (Tamil), Aaranyakandam (Tamil), Phijigee Mani (Manipuri) , Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (Hindi) & Game (Hindi).
The Best Actor award goes to Girish Kulkarni for film Deool (Marathi) and Best Actress to Vidya Balan for the film The Dirty Picture (Hindi). Azhagarsamiyin Kuthirai (Tamil) won the award for Wholesome Entertainment, Chillar Party (Hindi) won Best Children Film, Best Director to Gurvinder Singh for Punjabi film Anhe Ghorey Da Daan , Best Singer to Anand Bhate (Male) for Marathi film Balgandharva and Roopa Ganguly (Female) for the Bengali film Abosheyshey . Kumararaja Thiagarajan has won the Indira Gandhi Award for Best Debut film of a Director.
In the Non-Feature film category, three films have won two awards each. The Film Tiger Dynasty has won the Best Environmental Film & Best Cinematography awards. Awards for Best Direction and Best Editing have been taken away by the film There is Something in the Air. Film Panchakki has been awarded Best Short Fiction and Best Music Direction.
The number of entries in all the three broad sections of awards ----Feature Films, Non-Feature Films and Best writing on Cinema have been increasing year by year. The number of entries for 2011 stood at 186 in the feature films category, which is the highest in the history of the National Film Awards. Last year, 161 entries were received in this category. Entries in the non-feature films category have also steadily rising and this year 156 entries as compared to 113 last year. More and more authors and writers are now sending their entries for awards in Best Writing on Cinema category.
Following is the text of the Vice President’s address :
“A sociologist has argued, rightly, that popular culture is a site where “collective social understandings are created”. Our films play a significant role in this, more so given the linguistic and regional diversity they portray.
The annual National Film Awards are an important landmark in our cultural calendar and are eagerly awaited. It therefore gives me great pleasure to participate in today’s presentation ceremony of the 59th National Film Awards.
Over the years, these awards have recognized excellence as also propelled new or unknown talent to national and international limelight and provide encouragement and recognition to them. They also provide us an annual opportunity to salute and pay homage to the Father of Indian Cinema, Dhundiraj Govind Phalke.
The Dada Saheb Phalke Award winners constitute the legends of Indian cinema. This prestigious award today is being presented to renowned Bengali film and theatre actor Shri Soumitra Chatterjee. His partnership with Satyajit Ray would indeed be counted as a memorable director-actor combination in the history of cinema. I warmly congratulate Shri Chatterjee and all other award winners. I also wish to thank and congratulate the distinguished Jury for the Awards for their hard work.
Since the first Indian feature film, Raja Harishchandra, made by Dada Saheb Phalke almost a century ago, Indian commercial cinema has formed a principal element of our popular culture and impacts on how we think, behave and function in our public and private lives.
This year the two films adjudged as Best Feature Films are in regional languages and are an achievement for regional film industry. It is an under-appreciated fact that over 80 per cent of the films certified for public exhibition are regional films. I am also happy to note that this year there has been the highest number of films entered in both the feature and non-feature sections. The eleven children who have been awarded the Best Child Artist awards deserve our whole hearted appreciation and applause.
As a collective, the films and artistes who have been awarded today prove that contrary to popular perception, Indian cinema is neither formulaic nor conforming to stereotypes. It has successfully adapted traditional Indian narrative and oral traditions to the requirements of technology and formats of new media.
India is in the throes of rapid transformation. This is also reflected in the nature and expectations of cinema goers. We have a growing middle class, and a younger generation of viewers; both are desirous and capable of spending on entertainment. The film viewers today, besides entertainment, seek to understand their society and their world, and to make sense of societal and personal evolution.
The technology and format of film viewing is also changing with new gadgets including phones, Tablets, Pay-per-view and laptops and venues such as multiplexes. This is leading to an increasing demand for better cinematography, improved quality and digital formats. They impact on the distribution and marketing and thus on revenue generation possibilities. The industry has to face the challenge of continuing on the path of innovation, creativity, and technological up-gradation even as it nurtures its umbilical chord with our heritage and culture.
Globalisation has also permeated the film industry. The movement of professionals across national boundaries is much easier than in an earlier era. Today, talent seamlessly shifts between continents in search of newer audiences and better returns. Indian films are also witnessing multi-country theatrical release and entering non-traditional markets.
It is noteworthy that foreign governments and tourist organizations are assiduously marketing locations in their countries to Indian film makers. A stopover in Mumbai and a visit to film studios is a now a regular feature of many visiting foreign dignitaries!
It is evident our films are one of the most potent elements of our soft power. They are ambassadors of our culture, tradition and society. They foster people-to-people relations and promote our image and interests in ways that are not readily apparent but are of enduring significance.
As we improve our society and economy and empower our citizens, our films will continue to play a leading role within the country and abroad to further the effort.
I would like to make one more point before I conclude. In the last few years, it has become possible to release a film in multiple languages simultaneously to cater to different linguistic audiences due to improved dubbing and sub-titling. This has been commercially exploited since 1994 for releasing foreign feature films in Hindi and regional languages in our country, and 128 such films were certified in 2011.
Yet, strangely enough, we have not enhanced the share of Indian feature films that are dubbed from one Indian language to another. On the contrary, their number has declined in the past decade from 213 films in 2001 to 147 films in 2011. The need of the hour is to ensure that we create, through dubbing and sub-titling, a national market for films produced in all regional languages. To a limited extent, this is happening in the case of television programmes in contiguous linguistic areas. We need to broad-base such efforts so that our citizens can know and appreciate each other’s culture and social settings better. This will also help revive the regional film industry.
I once again thank the Hon’ble Minister of Information and Broadcasting for inviting me to this function and congratulate all the award winners. I am confident that this recognition would spur you to greater heights of excellence.”