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'Zero year' for national film awards


Saryu Mahajan,CNN-IBN
Nov 21, 2006 at 09:24pm IST

New Delhi: It's going to be a 'zero year' for national film awards this year. It's almost the end of the year and no one seems to have any clue about the National Film Awards. As it stands now, there may be no recognition of Indian films by the government this year.

While the Information and Broadcasting Ministry is still hopeful that the National Film Awards will be announced by the year-end, it is not ready to make any promise. "I am not denying that there will be no awards," Information and Broadcasting Minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi, says.

"It could be two award ceremonies in one year," Dasmunsi adds.

The 53rd National Film Awards ran into a controversy earlier this year when documentary filmmaker Anand Patwardhan filed a petition in the Bombay High Court. Patwardhan challenged the entry criteria for the national awards, which does not allow films without a censor certificate. The Bombay High Court upheld the petition in July this year, but the Directorate of Films later challenged the decision and the matter now rests with the Supreme Court.

"The jury's job is to find the best film. Otherwise, they can give the award to the Censor Board for best editing," Patwardhan argues.

Dasmunsi, however, has his a counter-argument. "Films are made for public and there might be a bias in judgment during awards as some filmmakers will bring a censored film and some uncensored. So the censorwalla might say that I had to cut some sequences because of the censor," he points out.

While the argument continues and the legal case drags on at a snail's pace, filmmaker Rahul Dholakia's Parzania will have to go to the theatres without adding the national awards to its credentials. Dholakia was tipped to win the national award for best director this year.

"It's a very bad news that the National Awards have been canned. It's the highest award and it matters a lot in our country," Dholakia says.

(With Vrushali Haldipur in Mumbai)

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