Every year, when the National Awards are announced, there is a controversy, this year was no different. The biggest noise was made over social media about Akshay Kumar winning the Best Actor award for 'Rustom'.
Akshay Kumar has improved a lot from his Khiladi days to the last few films like 'Special 26', 'Airlift', 'Baby' and 'Rustom'. However, whether his role in 'Rustom' was outstanding enough to win the National Award is debatable. Whether the film, which is not a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination, should even have been in the running would cause an even bigger debate.
From having a kind of disdain for the government awards for ‘arty’ films, Bollywood has, over the last few years, been pursuing the National Awards rather aggressively. With popular awards no longer being taken seriously—anyone and everyone who turns up seems to get a trophy—the Bollywood industry now wants the respectability of the National Awards.
To make things worse, this year’s jury Chairman, Priyadarshan, gave foot-in-the-mouth interviews in which he claimed that if Ramesh Sippy could give it to Amitabh Bachchan when he was Chairman of the jury and Prakash Jha to Ajay Devgan, then why was he being criticised for giving it to a star who has worked with him in many films in the past? In a way, he admitted to what he was being trolled for—that personal equations do come into the picture when awards are being decided, and lobbies do come into play.
Not everybody has seen every film entered for the National Awards, the one actor who ought to have won by common consensus is Manoj Bajpayee for 'Aligarh'; in fact, a film of such sensitivity being totally ignored by the jury has raised quite a few eyebrows. Priyadarshan made another gaffe by saying that homosexuality is not a major social problem. The film was about a man being persecuted for his personal choice, and if, in these days of intolerance, this is not a social issue then what is?
If a Bollywood actor doesn’t win an award, the mainstream media couldn’t give a damn about covering it, but Akshay and Sonam Kapoor (for a special mention) were gloating all over the media. The question of unfairness and somebody else being a more deserving winner does not even occur to them—such is Bollywood’s vanity and sense of entitlement.