Similarities and bonding between two ancient languages, Kannada and Telugu, were recalled even as two Kannada film stars were presented with the N.T. Rama Rao National Awards here on Monday.

Bharathi Vishnuvardhan, who has starred in several Kannada films, and Shivarajkumar, who has acted in over 100 Kannada films in lead roles and continues to act, were given the awards at the 89th birth anniversary celebrations of NTR organised by the Karnataka Telugu Academy.

After felicitating the actors, D. Purandheshwari, Union Minister of State for Human Resources Development and daughter of the late matinee idol-turned-politician NTR, drew similarities between Kannada and Telugu film industry. She said like NTR, Kannada thespian Rajkumar too had been the cultural ambassador of Kannada. They are immortal, she said.

Academy president and industrialist A. Radhakrishna Raju said the 16 crore Telugu-speaking people are a peace-loving community, contributing to local economies and enriching their language and culture.

Kannada and Telugu, described by Krishnadevaraya as his two eyes, are closely related and are the two faces of the same coin, Mr. Raju said.

He urged Ms. Purandheshwari to speed up the process of providing the benefits of classical language status that had been accorded to Kannada and Telugu.

Film distributor A.R. Raju, who was recently conferred with the first Vishnuvardhan Award of the Karnataka Government for his lifetime contribution to the film industry, said though his mother tongue had been Telugu, Kannada has been sustaining him for over four decades.