Special Correspondent

Thiruvananthapuram: Malayalam cinema has done itself proud by winning not only an enviable number, but also a few of the cream of the 54th National Film Awards which were announced in New Delhi on Tuesday.

The selection of Priyanandanan’s ‘Pulijanmam’ as the best feature film is probably the highest honour to come the Malayalam tinsel world’s way this time. Should the director of the best film be adjudged as the best director as well or should another person be selected for that honour has been and still is the subject of a heated debate. Whatever is the outcome of that debate, Malayali film lovers are certain to consider Priyanandanan also as the best director, in addition to Madhur Bhandarkar.

Film fans missed a heart beat when veteran actor Tilakan missed the national best actor award by a whisker. They heaved a sigh of relief only when the jury decided to make a special mention for his acting in ‘Ekantham.’ Madhu Kaithapram, the director of the film, also shared the award for the best debut film maker. M.P. Sukumaran Nair brought in more laurels when his film ‘Drishtantham’ was declared the best Malayalam film.

It was only after Kamal wove a touching story around a Tamil family that the people started taking a closer look at the “Karutha Pakshikal” who can be seen ironing clothes here, collecting discarded items there or doing some other odd job somewhere else. Mammootty had done an excellent piece of acting in the film and there were many who thought that he would get away with the State if not the national award. Many were disappointed when he did not, but the selection of the film as the best one with social content came as a big relief. Mohanlal, the other uncrowned king of Malayalam cinema had given one of his best performances in Major Ravi’s ‘Keerthi Chakra.’ The selection of that film as one of the best two on national integration comes as the icing on the cake.

Nedumudi Venu has been enriching not only the film world, but also the theatre. It is the manner in which he renders dialogues, the pregnant pauses which he makes, the timbre of his voice and the overall mellifluousness of his style which came to the filmgoers mind when his narration (commentary) in the short film ‘Minukku’ was adjudged as the best. Though Priyamani was adjudged as the best female actor for her role in the Tamil film ‘Paruthiveeran,’ it is as much a recognition for Kerala as Malayalam cinema too played a major role in putting her through her paces.

‘Matter of pride’

Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan described the national awards won by Malayalam cinema as a matter of pride for all Malayalis. In an official press note, he said that it was a certificate of the quality of Malayalam films. He wanted those concerned to make use of the opportunity to avoid controversies and disputes and come together for promoting good cinema. He congratulated Priyanandanan over phone.