Veteran cinematographer V.K. Murthy became the first technician to be awarded the prestigious Dada Saheb Phalke award at the 56th National Film Awards (2008) presentation ceremony here on Friday. President Pratibha Patil presented the award to Mr. Murthy, who is best known for his works in classics like Pyaasa and Kaagaz Ke Phool.

Having started his career in 1957, Mr. Murthy, who shot India's first cinema-scope film Kaagaz Ke Phool, was given a standing ovation by the audience and found a special mention in the President's address.

Anirudh Roy Choudhary was presented the Swarna Kamal for directing Antaheen (Bengali), the best feature film, while Neeraj Pandey and Ronnie Screwwala of UTV Motion Pictures were presented the Swarna Kamal as part of the Indira Gandhi Award for best first film, for A Wednesday (Hindi).

Popular Hindi film Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye! fetched its director Dibakar Banerjee a Swarna Kamal for the best popular film providing wholesome entertainment.

In the best actor category, Upendra Limaye walked away with the honours for his performance in Marathi film Jogva, and Priyanka Chopra took home the best female actor award for her role in Fashion. The film also fetched Kangana Ranaut the award for best supporting woman actor. “At 22 receiving this award is a great achievement,” she said.

Arjun Rampal took home a Rajat Kamal for the best supporting actor in Rock On (Hindi). The film was also adjudged the best Hindi film.

Master Shams Patel was declared the best child artist for his role in Thanks Maa (Hindi).

In the best singers category, the winners were Hariharan for Jogva and Shreya Ghoshal for Jogva and Antaheen. Ms. Ghoshal, who was not there to collect her award, has won the honour thrice earlier.

The Nargis Dutt Award for best feature film on national integration was given to Assamese film Aai Kot Nai.

Little Zizou was awarded the prize for best film on family values while Jogva was selected as the best film on social issues.

Abhaya Simha received the Swarna Kamal for his directorial debut Gubbachigalu (Kannada) in the best children's film category, while Jugal Hansraj was awarded the Swarna Kamal for his film Roadside Romeo in the best animation film category. The Special jury award went to Malayalam film Bioscope.

Bala, director of the Tamil film Naan Kadavul, won the best director award while the award for best cinematography went to Avik Mukhopadhyay for Antaheen.

In the non-feature film category, Director Haobam Paban Kumar received the award for the best non-feature film AFSPA 1958, and the special jury award was presented to Rajesh S. Jala's Children of the Pyre. The award for best director in this category was given to Umesh Kulkarni for Three of Us.

In the category for best writing on cinema, Bollywood Melodies by Ganesh Anantharaman was awarded the best book on cinema, while Altaf Mazid and R.K. Bidur Singh won the best film critics award.

In her address at the end of the presentation ceremony, Ms. Patil said the interest in Hindi cinema was growing internationally and Indian films and music compositions had been receiving international acclaim and awards.

She said cinema needs to be continuously nurtured, as a part of our efforts to not only excel in making films, but also to use it as a medium to tell our stories, as well as give expression to the importance of a humane approach in life.

“Cinema has an immense influence on thinking and on lifestyles particularly of the young generation. There is much positive energy that can be generated by using films, for conveying the message of good values to society and also eradicating harmful social evils,” she said.

Referring to the impact on Hindi cinema globally, she said: “During my visits abroad, often references are made by my interlocutors to the popularity of Indian films, and their role in promoting cultural understanding. India's profile and stature on account of our rapid economic growth, our skilled human resources and future prospects, is increasing.”

The President also made a special mention of Mr. Murthy and Master Shams Patel. “I was told that he is an amateur actor with no acting experience and that this was his first film. His award for a film at his first attempt deserves applause from all of us,” she said about Master Shams.