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.
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.
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)