film makers like Vidhu Vinodh Chopra and
Rajkumar Hirani do not need the stamp of
a National Award to carry on with their
work. But some of the smaller makers who
create cinema in the purists’ way
might have found this wait for recognition
just too long. Not having any commercial
backing, they rely heavily and sometimes
entirely on awards and film festivals for
recognition of art. Though the term ‘art
house’ cinema may not be in use these
days and while many claim that there is
no such thing as art cinema, we cannot deny
that there are still a very small, yet significant
set of makers who put the art of cinema
before the business of cinema.
The winner of the National Award for the
best film, Pulijanmam is a classic example
of how late recognition can be in coming.
Made and appreciated some time in mid 2006,
most of the people, even hardcore film fans
and film festival frequenters had forgotten
the movie in the rush of new releases. Yes,
when the awards were announced, the name
was instantly remembered, recollected and
plaudits were showered afresh. But recognition
and applause are things best served hot
and time can take the zing out of recognition
that spurs a maker onto greater heights.
The same goes with Kabir Khan, winner of
the best debutant director award for Kabul
Express that was released in early 2006.
For a young director who showed the courage
to start off with an unconventional theme
albeit with the help of some star power
and the Yashraj banner, the dividends should
have come much earlier. The movie was appreciated
to some extent by the niche audience and
did not do too badly at the box office but
the biggest honor was the National Award
and that took nearly 18 months in coming.
We have hardly heard about Kabir Khan since
Kabul Express, maybe he is planning something
really top notch as his next venture. However,
one cannot help think how a timely National
honor would have inspired this film maker
with a conviction.
Yes, the National Awards are things worth
celebrating and several reasons have been
furnished for the awards being delayed thus.
But none of this can compensate the young
and different film makers who had to wait
in the wilderness or even worse, get lost
in it while waiting for the elusive National
recognition. ‘Justice delayed is justice
denied’, that’s an old saying.
It’s the same with recognition, ‘recognition
delayed is recognition denied’.