ANDHRA PRADESH

Nandi awards presented

HYDERABAD April 1. An otherwise lacklustre Nandi film awards nite saw the Chief Minister, N. Chandrababu Naidu, and his brother-in-law and star, Nandamuri Balakrishna, matching wits with each other.

While the popular star chose to speak through a huge turnout of his noisy fans from the Rayalaseema region who kept on eulogising him, the seasoned campaigner that he is, Mr. Naidu obliged them by heaping lavish praise on Mr. Balakrishna.

``He is an embodiment of valour. He is a perfect actor and the right inheritor of his father's legacy,'' he remarked even as Mr. Balakrishna's fans broke into a thunderous applause at the Lalita Kala Thoranam here on Tuesday. "He justifies the tremendous following he has. I can see it right here,'' he said.

As Mr. Naidu walked up to the stage to greet the award winners much before the Nandi awards presentation for the year 2000 and 2001, the crowd egged him on to walk up to Mr. Balakrishna. As the Chief Minister shook hands with the popular actor clad in white and bright red, the crowd roared its approval.

Saying Telugu films were faring better than films made in other languages today, the Chief Minister called upon Telugu filmmakers to make good cinema that not only entertains, but also brings about social change. "Good cinema always has takers,'' he maintained.

In his thanksgiving, Mr. Balakrishna chose to hit out at the juries that decide the awards. "There has never been an iota of consistency in deciding award-winning films and performances since the inception of the Nandi awards,'' he charged. "What is the yardstick for zeroing in on an award- winning film or a performance? Are there any eligibility criterion for the jury members,'' he wondered.

``I never believed in awards. If people like my film, that is my biggest award. Even now, when I take this award, I'm sure there are many who might question my selection. I wholeheartedly accept this award as an endorsement of the popular people's choice and their verdict,'' he remarked.

Veteran actors -- T.L. Kantha Rao and Allu Ramalingaiah -- were conferred the prestigious Raghupathi Venkaiah award for their yeomen service to Telugu cinema. While actress, Laya, won the Best Actress award for both the years, Jagapathi Babu and Mr. Balakrishna walked away with the Best Actor award for the year 2000 and 2001 for `Manoharam' and `Narasimha Naidu' respectively.

The Home and Cinematography Minister, T. Devender Goud, announced that the jury for presentation of Nandi awards for films made last year would be announced shortly. "All backlogs will be cleared,'' he said.

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