Winners, yes, but the race is on...

The Kamal Hasan-Simran pair is a hit all over again.

The Kamal Hasan-Simran pair is a hit all over again.  

WHAT DECENT, original, commercial Indian film nowadays can resist some inspiration, a little remix, some violence, a dash of titillation and yet be released. The Rajkamal Academy of Cinematic Excellence (RACE) drew a rather harsh ineligibility criteria for its `National Awards', stating that films with "unnecessary sex and violence" would be rejected outright, that they should not be remixes, dubbed, or copies from foreign stories or films, and they should have been released sometime between November 1, 2001 and October 31, 2002. Now, where do they find such films?

Ask any filmmaker and he will tell you that movies adhering to that criteria do not get released. No way. Yet, the southern chapter of the RACE awards, which covers Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada films, attracted 24 entries in its debut venture. That may not be so great a number, but then don't forget those stipulations.

Introducing the awards to the press at a meeting on Saturday, the president of RACE, Rahul Shantaram, the grandson of V. Shantaram in whose legacy the award has been instituted, said, "We want to take this award to dimensions never heard of before. We were already doing the V. Shantaram Awards in the north, so we thought why not do it on the national level... and unite the country." Of course, he meant `unite cinematically'. For its debut, RACE chose to pick for the award the five most prolific film making industries in India - Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam. It has two more categories: `Other Indian Languages' (OIL) and `Other Distinguished Achievers' (ODA), which covers that latest genre in the Indian panaroma, English cinema.

Coming to the winners, Bharathiraaja's `Kadal Pookal' swept the Tamil category with seven awards, including one for the director. It also won Best Film, Debut Artiste-Female for Pratiksha, Best Cinematographer for B. Kannan, Best Editor for Palanivel, Best Story/Screenplay for Ratna Kumar, and Best Choreographer for Raju Sundaram, Cool Jayanth and Ajayraj. The Kamal Hasan-Simran pair won the Best Artiste award in their categories for their roles in `Pammal K. Sambandam'. Illayaraja was the Best Music Composer for his `Ivan' score. Pugazendhi Thangaraj was judged Best Debut Director for `Kaatrukkenna Vaeli'.

It was baffling though as to why the organisers announced the winners as nominees. The RACE manager (corporate communications), Anindya Dasgupta, explained: "In a way, they are nominees. These winners will be pitted against other winners nationwide in their categories for the overall winner."

So, Kamal Hasan will be in the race for RACE National Award for Best Artiste-Male against Telugu actor, Chiranjeevi, Malayalam actor, Jayaram, Kannada actor, Vishnu Vardhan, and other Best Artiste-Male winners from the other chapters.

By Feroze Ahmed

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