When it comes to Indian cinema, Hindi films cannot compete with other regional cinema that are churning out world-class content today, said filmmaker Shekhar Kapur as he announced the winners of the 65th National Awards.
The jury chairperson of the awards said that he had stopped making films in India because he felt that the standard of Hindi cinema was just not good enough. However, after he watched several regional films during the process of judging, he said, he is set to return to the country.
"The last film that I made in India was Bandit Queen. I've never a film in India after that for a reason. I wanted to make better cinema than what Hindi cinema offered me. And for years I wanted to come back here and make a film in India. For years I have been watching films and saying ... The standard of Hindi films was just not good enough. Why should I go back? We should move forward, face different challenges, we need to creatively grow. Ten days (of watching regional films) have changed that opinion," he said.
"I was stunned at the quality of films not in Hindi cinema, but in regional cinema. Cinema that has never come up before," he continued. "I didn't even know that films were made in Lakshwadeep. I didn't know Assam was making films that were winning at the Cannes Film Festival. I didn't know Bengali films had moved so forward. After 10 days, I was thinking the whole of last night, it's time to make a film in India. Because the standard of regional cinema is world-class."
The filmmaker also said Hindi films at present cannot compete with regional cinema because the former is simply not at par with the latter.
"I used to watch Malayalam films, and (in one film) the main character is a wife-beater and a rapist and I hated him. I felt like beating him up. And when I am watching another film I am like, 'This is not that actor; he is the victim here'. And then I realised the standard of performances in some of these regional films is completely stunning. Hindi films cannot compete with them. Not at the state it is in. And I know why. Hindi films try too hard to become everything," he said.
While many praised Shekhar for giving credit where itâ€™s due, some pointed out that regional films have been excelling for a very long time now.
Whatever be the merits of the #NationalAwards2018 announced today, jury chief Shekhar Kapurâ€™s wide eyed â€śdiscoveryâ€ť of regional cinema was a tad overdone. Regional films have been breaking barriers for decades, as all those Sunday afternoon DD shows can tellâ€” Nistula Hebbar (@nistula) April 13, 2018
Regional cinema eclipses Bollywood
Lakshwadweep to Ladakh, the 65th National Film Award winners' list encompassed cinematic gems from the length and breadth of India, with an Assamese film Village Rockstars walking away with the Best Feature Film title after nearly three decades.
The winners' list has a good mix of Malayalam, Marathi, Bengali and Assamese films.
Movies in the languages other than those specified in the VIII Schedule of the Constitution in the feature film categories were also awarded, the jury pointed out. The award for the Best Jasari Film was given to Sinjar, Best Tulu Film to Paddayi and the Best Ladakhi Film to Walking with the Wind, which won two other honours.
Only Newton emerged as the big winner out of Hindi cinema as it bagged the Best Hindi Film award and a Special Mention for actor Pankaj Tripathi.
Oscar-winning composer AR Rahman won two honours â€“ music direction award for Tamil film Kaatru Veliyidai and best background music for Mom.
"Regional cinema is giving Hindi cinema a run for its money," Kapur, who led a 10-member jury for this year's National Film Awards, told IANS.
With IANS inputs