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Epic blockbuster Baahubali won the best film honor at India’s 63rd National Film Awards. The winners of the government-backed awards were announced at a press conference ahead of an official ceremony on May 3.
Baahubali (The One With Strong Arms) also won for best special effects. The title, which was released in the South Indian Telugu and Tamil languages, was simultaneously dubbed in Hindi and became one of last year’s biggest hits in the country, bringing in an estimated $89 million. Its success was a rarity for a regional film given the dominance of Hindi language Bollywood cinema in India. The epic is now set for release in China via local distributor E-Stars Films. Its release date is still to be confirmed.
Historical Bollywood drama Bajirao Mastani was the big winner of the National Film awards, earning five honors, including for best director for Sanjay Leela Bhansali. Along with actor Ranveer Singh, the hit title from Eros International was toplined by actresses Deepika Padukone and Priyanka Chopra (Quantico).
Both stars are currently shooting their Hollywood feature debuts: Chopra is part of the cast of Baywatch, while Padukone features with Vin Diesel in the third installment of the XXX action franchise.
Bajirao Mastani also won awards for best supporting actress (Tanvi Azmi), best cinematography (Sudeep Chatterjee), best choreography (Remo D’Souza) and best production design (Saloni Dhatrak, Sriram Iyengar, Sujeet Sawant).
Bollywood icon Amitabh Bachchan was named best actor for his turn as a grumpy old father in Piku. The comedy hit was produced by Sony Television Entertainment’s film unit MSM Motion Pictures. Bachchan, whose five-decade career includes some of Indian cinema’s most iconic titles such as Sholay and Deewar, made his Hollywood debut in The Great Gatsby.
Kangana Ranaut was named best actress for Tanu Weds Manu Returns, the hit comedy sequel also from Eros International. Ranaut featured in a double role, portraying an athlete in addition to reprising the female lead character from the 2011 original Tanu Weds Manu. This is Ranaut’s second win in a row after she won in the same category last year for her turn in breakout hit Queen, which was released by Viacom18 Motion Pictures.
The special jury award was given to Kalki Koechlin for her turn as a bisexual young woman with cerebral palsy in Margarita With A Straw. Directed by Shonali Bose, the title played at the Toronto film festival. In its review, THR said: “Although decidedly specialist and Westernized in some way, Margarita is still very much an Indian film as well.”
The Indira Gandhi Award for best debut director went to Neeraj Ghaywan for Masaan, which at the Cannes film festival last year won a special jury prize in the Un Certain Regard section as well as a Fipresci mention. In its review, THR praised Masaan as “part of the new generation of indie films whose clear intent is to set ablaze a hidebound society’s constrictions on personal liberty.”
The NFAs will be handed out at an official ceremony in New Delhi in the presence of India’s president Pranab Mukherjee.
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The Green Knight