Article Hindi

Priyadarshan's bizarre explanation for snubbing Aamir Khan, Aligarh at the National Awards

Filmmaker suggests that Khan's no-show at awards do could have played a part in the Best Actor Award going to Akshay Kumar.

Mayur Lookhar

Ever since the National Film Awards were announced yesterday, a debate has erupted over certain choices, the most prominent one being Akshay Kumar getting Best Actor Award for Rustom. Social media went amok slamming the jury, with Hindi film audiences wondering why Aamir Khan and his film Dangal missed out when they’ve bagged most other popular awards.

In an interview to a tabloid, Priyadarshan had defended the decision of the 38-member jury, that was led by him. The filmmaker though has given a petty reason as to why Aamir Khan missed out on the Best Actor’s award.

“Aamir recently said that he wouldn’t personally accept the award if he is given one. If I remember, Aamir didn’t attend the ceremony when he won the award for Taare Zameen Par (The film bagged the National Film Award for Best Film on Family Welfare in 2008). So, why spoil it for some other actor who stood as good a chance of winning the award," said Priyadarshan.

Defending the jury decision to give Akshay Kumar the award, Priyadarshan said, “Akshay Kumar deserved the award and so we gave it to him. There were a total of 38 jury members with me on this. How can you question the decision of so many people? Ramesh Sippy headed the jury last year. When he gave Best Actor to Amitabh Bachchan for Piku why didn’t anyone question him?”

Priyadarshan also clarified that Akshay was given award for not two but for only one film only. “The jury considered him for both films but since the rules specify that he can only win for one film, we decided on Rustom,” 

The filmmaker has directed Kumar in films like Garam Masala (2005), Hera Pheri (2000) and Bhool Bhulaiyaa (2007). There was buzz that Priyadarshan wanted to make a film on AIDS for which he had approached Aamir Khan. The actor was keen but things didn’t work out. Thereafter, it was murmured that the filmmaker was keen on having Akshay.

The director replied, “Neither Aamir nor Akshay did the film. We made it in Tamil (titled Sila Samayangalil) last year with Prakash Raj.” 

Bollywood is popular cinema but that the film-maker added that regional films were not just entertaining but they delved into social issues too. Priydarshan defended the decision to snub Manoj Bajpai’s Aligarh and Dangal. The former didn’t even make it to the final list of 89 films chosen.

The director though gave a bizarre reason for the films missing out. 

Priyadarshan was quoted as saying in a Press Trust of India report, “While watching films we realised that a lot of Bollywood movies were themed around homosexuality. The movies are not really highlighting social problems. Whereas regional cinema are themed around fantastic social issues. They try to tell different stories. Even 'Dangal' doesn't talk about social issues. It was a life story”

Meanwhile Aligarh director Hansal Mehta felt hurt at the reason mentioned by Priyadarshan for snubbing his film.

He penned an open letter expressing his disappointment. 

“What hurts is that in some statement the chairperson who I respect and whose films I’ve often enjoyed says that ‘while watching films we realised that a lot of Bollywood movies were themed around homosexuality. The movies were not really highlighting social problems," said Mehta.

Read Mehta’s full letter in his Tweet 

The awards have been announced but the ceremony will be take place on 3 May.