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Pranab sees films as moral anchors

Madhur Tankha
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President presents 61{+s}{+t}National Film Awards

THE WINNERS:Best Actress Geetanjali Thapa (left), and joint winners for Best Actor Suraj Venjaramoodu (centre) and Rajkummar Rao at the 61st National Film Awards function in New Delhi on Saturday.— Photo Rajeev Bhatt
THE WINNERS:Best Actress Geetanjali Thapa (left), and joint winners for Best Actor Suraj Venjaramoodu (centre) and Rajkummar Rao at the 61st National Film Awards function in New Delhi on Saturday.— Photo Rajeev Bhatt

Reminding creative people of the Indian film industry that they need to use their artistic pursuits to create socially relevant cinema, President Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday said filmmakers should deploy their creative efforts to propagate core values such as patriotism, respect for women, compassion and tolerance.

Conferring film awards in various categories at the 61{+s}{+t}National Film Awards at Vigyan Bhawan here, Mr. Mukherjee said the cinematic content of films should have a desirable impact on the social behaviour of people, especially the new generation. “Faced with erosion of values in today’s context, cinema should play a catalytic role in resetting our moral compass.”

The highlight of the function was when the compere announced the name of noted poet Gulzar for the prestigious Dadasaheb Phalke Award for his lifelong contribution to cinema. He was given a standing ovation and received a warm pat on the back and acknowledgement in words from the President.

Mr. Gulzar, dressed in his signature style of immaculate white kurta pajama, said there were only two institutions in the country which were secular. “One is the Army and the second is the film industry, where people cutting across religion and caste work together. I can vouch for the fact that people in the film industry are secular, honest people.”

Late filmmaker Balu Mahendra’s film, Thalaimuraigal , dealing with the breaking of walls of orthodoxy and religious and linguistic bias in a small village in Tamil Nadu, bagged the Nargis Dutt Award for the best feature film.

For ‘ Bhaag Milkha Bhaag ,’ filmmaker Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra received the award for best popular film providing wholesome entertainment.

“As a citizen of India, it is a proud moment for me to get the award from the highest office in the country. It is not a sports film but one dealing with the Partition and lost childhood. Moreover, it is about the spirit of Milkha Singh, who achieved so much despite being displaced along with millions of people,” said Mr. Mehra.


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