Mollywood
Other top contenders include Amitabh Bachchan and Vijay Sethupathi.
Digital Native

The Kerala government had announced recently that Vinayakan has been selected as Best Actor for the Kerala State Film Awards. The recognition came for his performance in Kammatipaadam. And now, there are reports that the regional jury has recommended the actor’s name for the National Award as well.

The state awards came as affirmation for those who are not enamored by cinema that revolves around the conventional hero and his superhuman actions - a story arc that is repeated across film industries.

While Vidhu Vincent's Manhole won the award for Best Film, and Rajisha Vijayan won Best Actress (Anuraaga Karrikin Vellam), the Best Actor award went to Vinayakan who acted in Kammatipaadam. His co-star Manikandan also picked up an award for Best Character Actor.

Directed by Rajeev Ravi, Kammatipaadam documented the pull of violence. While the film is ostensibly about Krishnan (Dulquer Salmaan) and his evolution from a troubled and violent boyhood to middle aged ennui, it is Vinayakan as Ganga who anchors the film as Krishnan's friend from a dalit family who introduces him to the political underbelly of the region.

Scripted by P. Balachandran with story by Rajeev Ravi, the film was released in May last year to packed houses.
 
Even though the 'hero' of the film was Dulquer Salmaan, who played the role of Krishnan, and had the lion's share of screen time, it was Vinayakan's performance as Ganga that won the award. Those who have watched the film will not be surprised by the jury's choice.

To be sure, this is not the first time that Best Actor has gone to a character who did not play the hero in a film. Thilakan, for instance, won the award for Perumthachan, in which he plays a father who shares a professional rivalry with his young son and kills him towards the end for his disobedience. And it is heartening to see such "surprise" winners cropping up every now and then.

Indeed, if one were to look at the name of the award, it says 'Best Actor' and not 'Best Hero', so it makes all the more sense for it to go to the person who delivered the best acting performance that year, no matter what his role was.

The other top contenders for the National Awards in the Best Actor category are also actors who either played negative roles or were not the conventional hero. The list includes Nawazuddin Siddiqui for Haraamkhor, Raman Raghav, Guru Somasundaram for Joker, S.J. Surya for Iraivi, Vijay Sethupathi for Aandavan Kattalai, Iraivi and Amitabh Bachchan for Pink.

According to reports, the National Jury, headed by ace director Priyadarshan, has been viewing the shortlisted films. Sixteen films have been short-listed of which 10 are Malayalam and 6 are Tamil films. Mohanlal's Oppam couldn't be part of the race since the film was directed by jury member Priyadharshan. 

Vinayakan has stiff competion from his fellow contendors for the National Award and it remains to be seen which way the jury will swing. 

(With inputs from Digital Native)