Did you question Ramesh Sippy or Prakash Jha?

Priyadarshan, the chairman of the jury for shortlisting national awards this year for feature films, is surprised at the criticism over Akshay Kumar being nominated for best acting

Photo courtesy: Facebook.com/DirectorPriyadarshan
Photo courtesy: Facebook.com/DirectorPriyadarshan

NH Web Desk

Wasn’t Ramesh Sippy chairman of the jury when Amitabh Bachchan won the national award for best acting? Didn’t Ajay Devgan win the award when Prakash Jha was heading the panel? So what’s the big deal if Akshay Kumar is adjudged the best actor for his role in Rustom when his friend and collaborator Priyadarshan was the chairman of the jury for feature films?

An incredulous Priyadarshan in fact exclaimed, So, none of them was questioned (when Bachchan and Devgan were given the award) at that time. So why all these questions are cropping up today,” while responding to public criticism of the jury overlooking much better performances by Manoj Bajpai, Sushant Rajput and Aamir Khan, reported PTI.

His reaction unwittingly confirmed the insinuations that Akshay Kumar was adjudged the best actor by the jury for this year’s national awards because Kumar and Priydarshan happen to be friends and possibly also because it was the ‘politically correct’ thing to do since Kumar has consistently been tweeting his support to the government and to the right-wing groups.

But, film critics and viewers alike were not amused. Writing in The Indian Express on Saturday, Shubhra Gupta pleaded for greater transparency while acknowledging that the task of the jury is always difficult. But still, she quipped, giving Kumar the best actor’s award was a bit of a stretch!

The Huffington Post was even more harsh and commented, “Now let's define what an 'Akshay Kumar film' has meant in the last decade. A majority of them are usually films with paper-thin story lines, a lot of slapstick comedy, one chartbuster that'll be a nightclub staple for months and basically a lighthearted, predictable comedy abounding in stereotypes. Some of these involve Kumar doing some mean action – a trademark of his career and success. Where does Tinu Suresh Desai's Rustom figure in all this? I'm afraid to say, nowhere.”

Priyadarshan however strongly defended the decision of the jury. Akshay Kumar's performance in the two films – Rustom and Airlift – was considered by the jury during the selection process, he claimed. However, as only the name of one film could be mentioned, the list featured the courtroom drama Rustom, he said, “It was the jury's decision. One performance was dramatic and (the other) one was realistic. But according to the rule book, only one film can be mentioned and Rustom was mentioned in the list. But the award recognises his performance in both the movies.”

With PTI inputs

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Published: 09 Apr 2017, 2:50 PM