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Talent Roll-Call

It’s celebration time for the makers of Newton, Baahubali and Toilet: Ek Prem Katha

Mainstream blockbuster Baahubali: The Conclusion won the National Award for best popular film providing wholesome entertainment, besides being named for special effects and action direction. Ganesh Acharya won for his choreography for the Hindi film Toilet: Ek Prem Katha. Hindi film Newton, a dark comedy on Indian democracy, was named the best Hindi film and a special mention went to its actor Pankaj Tripathi for his portrayal of a cynical CRPF officer.

Sesino Yhoshu won the Best Environment Film (non-feature film) award for her The Pangti Story, which highlights how the locals in Nagaland killed thousands of Amur falcons for ages until they turned into their protectors a few years ago. A movie made on a shoe-string budget and shot on a hand-held camera by someone who did not have any formal training in filmmaking and starring mostly children from a nondescript village near Guwahati winning five National Awards including the best feature film really is really a stupendous achievement. Directed by Rima Das, Village Rockstars, an aspirational tale of a village girl who dreams of making it big, also won for best location, sound recordist, editing and best child artiste (Bhanita Das).

It was after 30 years that an Assamese film was named the best at the National Awards. Jahnu Barua’s Halodhia Choraye Baodhan Khai won the National Film Award in the same category in 1988.

Village Rockstars is about a 10-year-old girl Dhunnu who dreams of having her own rock band and goes in search of an electric guitar in her small village, Kalardiya in the town of Chaygaon, about 38 km from Guwahati. Matmagi Manipur — The first Manipuri Feature Film, the first book on Manipuri films, was selected for the award for the best book on cinema.

Utpal Borpujari told PTI that films from the Northeast always have quality and all that is needed is a market. “Aribam Syam Sharma (Manipur) and Jahnu Baruah, Adil Hussain, Seema Biswas and Bishnu Kharghoria (Assam) excelled on the national scene long ago. A new crop of filmmakers are now making interesting films for the past three to four years,” he says.

Among the other winners, Jayaraj was named best director and the best adapted screenplay writer for his Malayalam film Bhayanakam, which also won the best cinematography award. Riddhi Sen was recognised as the best actor for Kaushik Ganguly’s Bengali film Nagarkirtan, which bagged awards in multiple categories — best costume, makeup and special jury.

The Nargis Dutt award for the best feature film on national integration went to the Marathi film Dhappa, while the Malayalam film Aalorumkkam was recognised as the best film on social issues. Hindi film star Divya Dutta was named the best supporting actress for her role in Irada, which also bagged the award for the best film on environmental conservation/preservation.