Me and my faboulous jury think we’ve chosen most wisely: Rahul Rawail, National Film Awards jury

Rahul  Rawail who headed  the  66th National Film Awards jury speaks to Subhash  K Jha on what prompted the  bold  decisions by the jury

 Rahul Rawail is  one  of  the bluntest  film personalities. He  will call a spade a spade  and  shovel you with loads  of  uncomfortable truth.

 But this  year he  is  very happy with the National awards. “If you’ve called  to  question me  about  the  legitimacy  of  the awards  then I must say I’m really surprised. Me and my faboulous jury think we’ve chosen most wisely.”

Before  I could bring it  up Rahul expostulates,  “I’ve been getting calls accusing our jury of pandering to a pro-Government  cinema . Uri, they say is totally pro-BJP because it  favours retaliation against  Pakistani aggression.But Aditya Dhar  got  the  Best Director award  because he has made a remarkable  film.Not a  propaganda  piece. In   fact I thought  Uri would also  get the best dialogue award for that one  line, ‘How’s  the  josh?’ We completely by Uri and I  insist  there was no  politics in  the decision.”

As for both Ayushmann Khurrana and  Vicky Kaushal  winning the  best actor award jointly, Rahul Rawail chuckles, “Here’s what. We’ve celebrated the team spirit  this time. Why  single out one when two were equally deserving?Ayushmann and  Vicky have not been  honoured  to add star  power  to the  National awards. They’ve been honoured because Ayushmann was as remarkable in Andha Dhun as Vicky in Uri.We couldn’t choose one above the  other.We didn’t want  to.”

Speaking  of  the team spirit  Rahul  says, “That was precisely why we gave  the National award  for best child artiste to  4  children in 4 films. We  didn’t have the heart to  single out one of  the children.All four were  equally good. Likewise the  12 women protagonists  of the Gujarati film Hellaro.All the  12 actresses are equally exceptional. To divide them would mean breaking the equilibrium of excellence that  underlines  the film.”

Rahul can’t stop raving about Hellaro.  “No one had  heard  of this  gem when  it came to us. When we saw it we were stunned. This  is the  only film this year  for which all us jury members stood up and clapped after the show. We were so moved that we saw  it a second  time. Hellaro is  about patriarchy and  women’s empowerment in Kutch.These women are born to dance ,  but they are  not allowed  to. It is a film that  should be seen  all across India . If  the National award  helps it get its audience then we consider  our job well done.”

 As  for  Sanjay Leela Bhansali winning  the  National award for best music composition in Padmaavat,  Rahul says. “I think this is  the  first time that  the National award for music has been  given to  a filmmaker. It is  a good sign  if the National awards break barriers. It shows, cinema that’s  coming of age is being recognized.”

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