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April 24, 2018
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Rich haul for Malayalam cinemaBags 15 honours at the 65th National Film Awards

Malayalam cinema had one of its richest hauls ever at the 65th National Film Awards, sweeping 15 awards, including major awards for direction and acting. The awards, which do not include the big names of the industry, are a recognition for the new crop who have defined a fresh aesthetic over the past few years.

Jury Chairman Shekhar Kapur acknowledged the big strides that regional cinema, especially Malayalam cinema, has made in recent times when he said, “Bollywood films cannot compete with these regional films, not at the state in which they are”. Although he made a few light-hearted complaints about the unpronouncable titles like Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum, which the jury members used to call ‘Chain Snatcher’, that did not spoil the chances of the films.

That film, directed by Dileesh Pothen, one of the high points of Malayalam cinema in recent times, fetched the best original screenplay award for Sajeev Pazhoor and the best supporting actor award for Fahadh Faasil. Mr. Kapur praised the film as an ‘unusual’ one with a brilliant screenplay.

After a disappointing decade at the beginning of the millennium, the industry here slowly began to veer away from the tried and tested route of formulaic masala films and super hero-centric subjects, with a set of films that came to be termed ‘new generation’. But many of these films were criticised for being shallow in their outlook, and for being metro, upper class-centric.

But the movement matured over the past four years, pushing the boundaries in all aspects, with realistic portrayals of the struggles of normal people. The National Award this year for production design, which Santosh Raman won for Takeoff is a sign of the strides even in the technical arena that the industry had taken. He had convincingly recreated war-ravaged Iraq in that film, which also fetched Parvathy a special mention in acting.

Indrans, once typecast as a comedian, started getting roles that challenged the actor in him, with the wave of change sweeping the industry. The jury on Friday took his name, saying that he lost out the best actor award by a whisker for Aalorukkam. The film, directed by debutant V.C. Abhilash, won the award for best film on social issues.

Director Jayaraj, who has moved effortlessly for years between mainstream and parallel cinema, won the best director award for Bhayanakam, part of his Navarasa series. The film, on the men from Kuttanad who went to fight in the Second World War, won the best cinematography award for Nikhil.S. Praveen. K.J. Yesudas won the best playback singer (male) award for his song from Vishwasapoorvam Mansoor.

Malayalam also had reasons to cheer for in the non-film category, with Aneez K. Mappila winning the award for the best documentary for The Slave Genesis, and Shiny Jacob Benjamin winning for best biographical reconstruction for Sword of Liberty. Nithin. R won award for best anthropological film for Name, Place, Animal, Thing.