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.”