After TN Chief Minister, this acclaimed cinematographer not happy with 69th National Awards Jury for ignoring Jai Bhim

(This article is authored by Alar)

The 69th National Film Awards were announced on Friday, August 25, 2023, and while many films and artists were honoured for their excellence, one film that was conspicuously missing from the list was Jai Bhim. The critically acclaimed Tamil film, directed by T.J. Gnanavel and starring Suriya, Prakash Raj and Lijomol Jose, was based on the true story of a Dalit lawyer who fought for the rights of a group of tribal people accused of a crime they did not commit.

The film received rave reviews from critics and audiences alike, and was praised for its powerful portrayal of caste oppression and human rights violations. The film also won several awards at various international film festivals, including the Best Film award at the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne. However, the film was completely ignored by the National Awards jury, which did not nominate it in any category.

This exclusion did not go down well with many fans and celebrities, who took to social media to express their disappointment and anger. One of them was veteran cinematographer PC Sreeram, who questioned the jury’s decision and hinted at a possible bias against the film.

He took to Twitter and penned, “We in the film fraternity are united in our happiness for this year’s #NationalAwards Did they leave out ‘Jai Bhim’ due to any particular reason or is it the voice of INDIA which has given them jitters?”

His tweet sparked a debate among netizens, who also wondered why Jai Bhim was snubbed at the prestigious awards. Some of them accused the jury of being influenced by political and ideological factors, while others defended the jury’s right to choose the winners based on their own criteria. Some also pointed out that there were many other deserving films that were also overlooked by the jury, and that awards are not the only measure of a film’s quality.

Jai Bhim is not the first film to face such a controversy at the National Awards. In the past, there have been several instances of films being either nominated or rejected for various reasons, leading to allegations of favouritism, nepotism, corruption or discrimination. The National Awards are considered to be the most prestigious and credible awards in Indian cinema, but they are also often marred by controversies and criticisms.

The 69th edition of the prestigious National Film Awards, conferred by the Government of India, was announced on Thursday at a press conference held in New Delhi.  R Madhavan’s ‘Rocketry: The Nambi Effect’ won the National Award for the Best Feature Film category.

The prestigious award also won by SS Rajamouli-directed RRR which bagged six awards, including in the category of the Best Popular film providing wholesome entertainment. Allu Arjun was announced as the winner of the Best Actor award for Pushpa: The Rise -Part 1.  Director M Manikandan’s ‘Kadaisi Vivasayi (The Last Farmer)’ won the honours for the Best Tamil Film.