National Film Awards Jury Chair Priyadarshan Denies Role In Indira Gandhi-Nargis Name Change Row

In a recent interview, esteemed filmmaker Priyadarshan addressed the ongoing controversy surrounding the removal of Indira Gandhi and Nargis from the National Film Awards categories, clarifying his position and shedding light on the decision-making process.

Priyadarshan emphasised that he was merely a technical advisor to the jury and had no direct involvement in the decision to remove the names of the two iconic actresses from the awards categories. He underscored that the decision rested solely with the jury itself.

Personal Stand

Expressing reluctance to take up the role of chairman of the jury again, Priyadarshan cited

“I have nothing to do with the modifications. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting completed them. I am the technical advisor to the National Film Awards. I mainly offer information on cinematography, dubbing, and other technical elements of films nominated for National Awards. As for the alterations you mention, I was unaware of them until I read about them.”

Thankless Job

Since 2017, he has served as the jury’s chairman. He went on to say that he would prefer not to lead the jury again.

“It’s a thankless job. There is controversy surrounding the awards yearly, and the chairperson is held accountable. Aside from that, screening so many films submitted for consideration is daunting. I’d rather make films than judge them.”

Defending The Decision

Despite significant backlash from the film industry, Priyadarshan defended the decision, asserting that it was made in the best interest of the awards. He explained that the jury aimed to enhance inclusivity within the awards and deemed the names of the two actresses irrelevant to contemporary cinema.

Continued Debate

The argument focuses on alterations made to India’s National Film Awards. The regulations announced on Tuesday state that the upcoming 70th National Film Awards 2022 event will not use the names of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and late performer Nargis Dutt.

The committee’s notification refers to the Indira Gandhi Award for Best Debut Film as the Best Debut Film of a Director. The renaming of the Nargis Dutt Award for Best Feature Film on National Integration has combined social issues and environmental conservation into one under the title of Best Feature Film Promoting National, Social, and Environmental Values.

Some people support the changes, while others believe they are disrespectful to the legacy of the two actresses.

Background On National Film Awards

The National Film Awards, instituted in 1954 by the Government of India, stand as the pinnacle of recognition for excellence in Indian cinema. Spanning categories such as Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director, and Best Film, these awards hold immense significance for filmmakers and actors, symbolising achievement and acknowledgement within the industry.

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