Recognition for small-budget and short films, surprise appearance by King Khan and scintillating performances were the highlights of Vijay Awards

Many film awards have been accused of ignoring the significant shifts in the film industry. For capturing these changes reasonably well, the jury of Vijay Awards need to be congratulated. Small-budget but popular films such as Pizza, Vazhakku En 18/9, Aarohanam, Naduvula Konjam Pakkatha Kaanom and Kumki were bestowed with many notable awards.

Offbeat choices

First of the many important awards given was won by Gopi Amarnath, cinematographer of Pizza, who, according to cinematographer Rathnavelu, a jury member, deserved the award for “pulling off an experiment (of shooting a majority of scenes with a torchlight for the horror sequences) successfully”. Karthik Subbaraj, writer and director of Pizza, won the Best Screenwriter Of The Year award, while his team received the Best Crew Of The Year award.

Balaji Tharaneetharan, the director of the comedy Naduvula Konjam Pakkatha Kaanom, which gained cult status as days went by, didn’t miss the chance to tell the large audience how difficult it was for him to sell his film, as he received the Best Debut Director award from K. Bhagyaraj. Vijay Sethupathi, who played the lead in both these films, was given the Special Jury award while Lakshmy Ramakrishnan’s debut film, Aarohanam, which was appreciated for the way the filmmaker dealt with bipolar disorder, was also judged worthy of a Special Jury award. Balaji Sakthivel won the Best Director award for Vazhakku En 18/9, which also won the Best Film award. The Best Female Actor award went to Samantha for her performance in Neethaane En Pon Vasanatham.

In a welcome move that acknowledged the flourishing short film movement in Tamil Nadu, an award for the Best Short Film was introduced. Warrant, a short film made by Mamundi, won this award.

Lyricist Thamarai, who was presented the Best Lyricist award for her song ‘Kangal Neeye’ from Muppozhudhum Un Karpanaigal, spoke about the need to get rid of the double entendres and sexism in film songs.

In between the acceptance speeches, the audience got to listen from the hosts of the evening, Gopinath and actor Madhavan, who, while keeping the large crowd entertained for the most part, seemed to have unwittingly injected a bit of homophobia into their jokes.

The audience were also witness to some terrific performances by Tamannaah, Varalaxmi Sarath Kumar and Siddharth, who turned singer at the event. Dhanush, who received the Best Actor award for his performance in 3, thanked the film’s director and wife Aishwarya Dhanush for casting him, before he sang ‘Sathiyama Nee Enaku Thevaiyae Illa’ from Edhir Neechal.

The best performance of the night, however, was a scintillating dance by the kids. The performance was dedicated to four of the big stars of Tamil cinema — Rajinikanth, Kamal Haasan, Ajith and Vijay.

The favourites

The awards under the favourite category were reserved for the latter half of the show and saw the participation of biggest of stars, including Kamal Haasan and Vijay (who got the loudest cheers from the jam-packed audience). The surprise that was built up through the evening by the hosts was revealed late into the night — Shah Rukh Khan! Receiving the Chevalier Sivaji Ganesan award for excellence in Indian cinema from Kamal Haasan, Vijay, Prabhu (Sivaji Ganesan’s son) and his family, Shah Rukh Khan said, “I’m not going to care anymore about the Tamil technicians taking our awards in Mumbai because, today, I have received the prestigious Sivaji Ganesan award.”

The Badshah of Bollywood was at his sportive best as he consented to the request of the kids (who’d performed earlier) to dance to the popular number ‘Chammak Challo’ from Ra.One. Shah Rukh Khan presented the awards in the ‘Favourite’ category (voted by the people), which was swept by Thuppakki. The film won the awards for Favourite Hero, Favourite Song, Favourite Director, Favourite Film, and Favourite Heroine. Vijay was also adjudged the Entertainer Of The Year.

The highlight of the night was Shah Rukh Khan’s spontaneous request to the usually shy Vijay to dance on stage with him — for ‘Google Google’ from Thuppakki.

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