Controversy
The Chairperson of the National Jury, Rahul Rawail, had claimed that 'Peranbu' had been rejected at the regional level itself.

Malayalam actor Mammootty's fans have been outraged by their star's exclusion from the 66th National Film Awards which were announced a few days ago. The actor's Tamil film Peranbu, directed by Ram, was considered by critics and audiences alike to be among his best performances. Mammootty played the father of a teenage girl with cerebral palsy in the film.

Following the controversy and fan anger directed at the Central panel, Rahul Rawail, the chairperson of the National Jury had stated that Peranbu did not make the cut even at the regional level and that it was not in consideration at the national level.

However, Major Ravi, who was part of the 11 member Central panel and was the chairman of the North panel, has claimed that Mammootty's performance was under consideration at the National level too.

In an interview to Manorama News channel, Major Ravi, has revealed the supposed reason behind Peranbu and Mammootty's performance losing out.

"In the second half of the film, it was dragged too much. At that time, it felt like the concentration on the actor had moved away. This is what came up in the discussion and it stood there. Somewhere in the second half of this 2-2.5 hour film, it became dragged out and this is why Mammootty was moved to the side. Otherwise, he was on the rank. I had strongly spoken for him," he said.

When the journalist asked him if Mammootty's name had made it to the final list, Major Ravi said, "Yes, his name came to the final list. But by the time it came to the last deliberation, all their names were gone....Jayasurya, all of them were gone."

When TNM called Major Ravi, the director denied that he'd spoken about the Jury's decisions anywhere. Asked about Rahul Rawail's statement that Peranbu had not been selected at the regional level itself, Major Ravi said, "That's what they say, isn't it?" But does that mean the National chairperson had not spoken the truth? "I don't want to say anything about it," Major Ravi said.

After Rahul Rawail's message to Mammootty, the actor had apologised on behalf of his fans and the chairperson had posted the message too.

There have been grumbles about the National Awards ignoring Tamil films in this year's selection, which some say is reflective of the Central government's attitude towards the state. The issue has gained even more impetus because Vicky Kaushal was given the Best Actor award (shared with Ayushman Khurrana) for Uri, which was written away by many critics as a propaganda film for the Central government.

On Monday, director Vasanta Balan wrote a Facebook post about his experience in the past with the National Film Awards: "Tamil films and Tamil artistes have been entirely excluded in the National Awards. This year, despite many good and quality films like Peranbu, Pariyerum Perumal, Vada Chennai, Ratsasan, 96 and others being sent, why was Tamil cinema excluded? In Peranbu, Mammootty and Sadana have given their lives and acted. What fault did you find in Yuvan's music, Theni Easwar's cinematography? Only then I got to know that from the Tamil industry, there were no good judges who were invited to the jury. Are judges being invited as an eyewash? Two years ago, I was invited to be a National Awards committee member one day before. Is it right to inform one about a job that would take 30 days in Delhi? What else is it but an eyewash? This situation has to change. The top Tamil stars, cinema personalities, and political leaders should give voice to this injustice."