K. Balachander's mainstream films had an artistic sensibility that touched upon social, political issues: Pratibha Patil

K. Balachander, doyen of Tamil cinema, was honoured with the Dadasaheb Phalke Award by President Pratibha Patil at the 58th edition of National Film Awards 2010 function at Vigyan Bhawan here on Friday.

A frail but spirited looking Balachander, who walked up to the podium to collect the highest award in cinema, received a standing ovation from the gathering.

Describing Mr. Balachander as a film-maker of distinction, Ms. Patil said he had made mainstream films with an artistic sensibility that had touched upon social, political and middle class issues. “He has made films in not one language but in many – Tamil, Kannada, Telugu and Hindi.”

Twenty-three films were awarded in the feature film category.

It was a southern sweep as Malayalam film Adaminte Makan Abu bagged the Swarna Kalam for the best feature film. For the same film, versatile Malayalam actor Salim Kumar collected the Rajat Kamal for an “evocative, restrained performance as a simple man with an unshakeable humanist faith in his quest for salvation”. In all, the film won four awards.

It was a proud moment for director Vetri Maaran as Tamil film Aadukalam bagged six awards. Set against the backdrop of cockfighting, Aadukalam is a gritty tale of love, jealousy and betrayal in the midst of blood-sport and violence.

Mr. Maaran came on stage to collect the award for the Best Director amid loud applause.

Other Tamil films that won awards included Rajnikanth starrer Enthiran (Best Special Effects for Srinivas Mohan and Best Production Design for Sabu Cyril), Thenmerkku Paruvakkatru (Best Actress for Saranya Ponvannan, Best Lyrics for Vairamuthu, and Best Tamil Film), Namma Gramam (Best Supporting Actress for Sukumari and Costume Design for Indrans Jayan) and Mynaa (Best Supporting Actor for J. Thambi Ramaiah).

The Best Actress award was shared by Saranya and Mitali Jagtap Vardkar (for Marathi film Babu Band Baja).

Film-maker Ananth Mahadevan's Marathi film Mee Sindhutai Sapkal bagged four awards. Apart from other things, the film has been recognised for retaining the concerns and humanistic values of a biographical account.

In Hindi cinema, the best was reserved for film-maker Vishal Bhardwaj who bagged the Best Music Direction (songs), while his wife Rekha Bhardwaj, who sang a song from her film Ishqiya, was presented the best female playback singer. The film was also honoured with two awards for Best Audiography.

In his capacity as producer, actor Arbaaz Khan collected the Swarna Kamal for Dabangg, the Best Popular Film providing wholesome entertainment. The film got another Swarna Kamal that was collected Abhinav Kashyap.

For I am Kalam, child artiste Harsh Mayar got the Rajat Kamal for performing with razor-sharp spirit of a survivor.

This year, 19 non-feature films were awarded in the Non-Feature Film category. Germ, A Pestering Journey, Shyaam Raat Seher and Pistulya won two awards each. Nonagenarian Vijaya Mulay's research project about three directors got the National Award for Best Book on Cinema titled From Rajahs and Yogis To Gandhi and Beyond.

Apart from Best Make-Up Artist award, Bengali film Moner Manush bagged the Nargis Dutt award for best feature film on national integration. Marathi film Champions received Best Film on social issues, apart from Best Child Artiste.