Kerala State Awards: Kani Kusruthi, Suraj, Lijo Pellissery among winners

Nivin Pauly, Anna Ben and Priyamvadha also won Special Jury Awards.
Kerala State Award winners Suraj Venjaramoodu, Kani Kusruthi and Lijo Jose Pellissery
Kerala State Award winners Suraj Venjaramoodu, Kani Kusruthi and Lijo Jose Pellissery
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The highly anticipated Kerala State Awards were announced on Tuesday. Several critically acclaimed films had released in 2019, with Malayalam films also receiving global attention through prestigious film festivals. With veteran cinematographer Madhu Ambat as the chairperson of the jury, 119 films were reportedly in the reckoning in the 50th edition of the awards. Interestingly, 71 of these films were by debut directors.

The Best Film Award went to Vasanthi directed by Rahman Brothers, and produced by Shinoz and Sajaz Rahman. The Second Best Film Award went to Kenjira directed by Manoj Kana. Vasanthi stars Swasika in the title role and also has Siju Wilson and Shabareesh in the cast. Speaking about Vasanthi in an interview with Times of India, Siju had said, “It is an experimental venture and not a mass entertainer, but is definitely a film that is worth a theatre experience. It has gone to a couple of festivals and also during the preview show, the feedback was that it would be appreciated on the big screen. Swasika has done an amazing role, and in fact, the film is driven by strong performances.”

Actor Suraj Venjaramoodu won the Best Actor (Male) award for his performances in Android Kunjappan Version 5.25 and Vikruthi. While he played a cranky old man who develops a friendship with his caretaker robot in Android, he played the role of a person with hearing and speech impairment  in Vikruthi. Mainly playing supporting and comic roles, Suraj in recent films has risen to playing the lead and has received much appreciation from critics and the audience. Ratheesh won the Best Debut Director Award for the film.

Actor Kani Kusruthi won the Best Actor (Female) for Biriyaani, written and directed by Sajin Babu. Kani also won an award for the same film at the Moscow International Film Festival. The film premiered at the 20th Asiatica Film Festival, which was held in Italy in October, 2019. Biriyaani, which hasn’t released in theatres in India yet, is reportedly about the problems faced by two Muslim women in Thiruvananthapuram. The film previously won the Padmarajan Award for Best Screenplay.

Lijo Jose Pellissery’s Jallikattu, which made waves internationally before its release in India, won him the Best Director Award. The film is about a buffalo on the loose and a village’s attempts to catch it. In the process, Lijo makes interesting parallels between man and animal and how quickly civilisation can crumble. The film starred Antony Varghese, Sabumon, Santhy Balachandran, Chemban Vinod Jose and others.

Kumbalangi Nights, directed by Madhu C Narayanan, won Fahadh Faasil the Best Character Actor (Male). The film also picked up awards for Best Music (Sushin Syam) and Best Art Direction (Jotish Sankar, who also won it for Android Kunjappan Version 5.25). The film, with Fahadh Faasil, Soubin Shahir, Shane Nigam, Anna Ben, Grace Antony, Sreenath Bhasi and others in the cast, was written by Syam Pushkaran. The film tells the story of a dysfunctional family of brothers and a patriarchal psychopath who is out to control the women in his house. Fahadh played the villain in this widely appreciated film.

Moothon, directed by Geetu Mohandas, fetched Nivin Pauly a Special Jury (Male) Award. The film also starred Shobita Dhulipala and Roshan Mathew. The film told the story of a young person who goes in search of his long lost brother, from idyllic Lakshadweep to chaotic Mumbai. Nivin’s portrayal of a gay gangster won him praise from the audience and critics alike.

Anna Ben won the Special Jury (Female) Award for survival thriller Helen while Priyamvadha won the same recognition for her role in Thottappan.

Here’s the full list of awards:

Best Film Book: PK Rajasekharan

Best Film: Vasanthi directed by Rahman Brothers, produced by Shinoz and Sajaz Rahman

Second Best Film: Kenjira directed by Manoj Kana

Best Director: Lijo Jose Pellissery for Jalikattu

Best Story Award: Shahul Aliyar for Vari - The Sentence

Best Male Actor: Suraj Venjaramoodu for Android Kunjappan and Vikruthi

Best Female Actor: Kani Kusruthi for Biriyaani

Best Character Actor (Male): Fahadh Faasil for Kumbalangi Nights

Best Character Actor (Female) Swasika Mikael for Vasanthi

Best Child Actor (Male): Vasudev Satheesh Marar

Best Child Actor (Female): Catherine Biji

Best Cinematography: Prathap V Nair

Best Scriptwriter: Rahman Brothers for Vasanthi

Best Scriptwriter Adaptation: PS Rafeek for Thottappan

Best Music Composer: Sushin Shyam for Kumbalangi Nights

Best Male Singer: Najeem Arshad for a song in Kettiyyol Aanente Malaka

Best Female Singer: Madhusri Narayanan for a song in Kolambi

Best Lyricist Award: Sujesh Hari for Sathyam Paranja Viswasikkuvo

Best Art Director: Jotish Sankar for Kumbalangi Nights and Android Kunjappan

Best Dubbing Artiste male: Vineeth (actor) for Lucifer and Marakkar

Best Female Dubbing Artiste: Sruthi Ramachandran for Kamala

Best Debut Director: Ratheesh for Android Kunjappan Version 5.25

Special Jury Award (Male): Nivin Pauly for Moothon

Special Jury Award (Female): Anna Ben for Helen and Priyamvadha for Thottappan

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