With outstanding performances by a range of actors in Hindi as well as regional films last year, the 61st National Film Awards — 2013 will see the best actor award being conferred on Raj Kumar for Bollywood film Shahid and Suraj Venjaramoodu for Malayalam movie Perariyathavar.

According to noted filmmaker and jury chairman Saeed Mirza, both the performances were so incredibly good that the jury was unanimous that this much-sought-after award needs to go to both the actors.

“Interestingly, Perariyathavar was the second last film which the jury watched. Suddenly, everything changed. Suraj has played a municipal sweeper but it is an incredibly dignified performance. He excels in comedy but in this film Suraj has brilliantly played a reticent character. I would not have been able to sleep had his name not been in the list of awardees,” said Mr. Mirza, after announcing the winners at a press conference organised by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting here on Wednesday.

Similarly, Raj Kumar’s performance in a human rights film based on the real life story of slain Muslim lawyer and rights activist Shahid Azmi was also lapped up by the jury. “The film Shahid is about people wrongly implicated as terrorists. It would have been a disservice to ignore this film. In fact, both Shahid and Perariyathavar are critically acclaimed films.”

Actor Geetanjali Thapa has bagged the best actress award for Hindi film Liar’s Dice. Saurabh Shukla has got the best supporting actor for his performance in Jolly LLB. Best direction has gone to Hindi film Shahid.

Bilingual movie Ship of Theseus, a powerful film of an unusual photographer, an erudite Jain monk and a young stock broker, has won the best feature film. The best popular film providing wholesome entertainment has been bagged by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s blockbuster Bhaag Milkha Bhaag.

National integration

The Nargis Dutt award for best feature film on national integration has been won by Tamil movie Thalaimuraigal, a sensitive tale about the breaking of walls of orthodoxy and religious and linguistic bias in a small village of Tamil Nadu.

Thanga Meengal, an emotional tale of a man separated from his wife and daughter, has been adjudicated the best Tamil film. Malayalam film Kanyaka has bagged the best debut film of a director (Christo Tomy). In non-feature films category, English film The Last Adieu won the best biographical/historical reconstruction.

The best film on social issues has been won by Marathi film Tuhya Dharma Koncha: it is a tale of a poor tribal family prosecuted by law enforcing agencies.

In best audiography category, Madras Café bagged two awards for location sound recordist and sound design.