May 3, 2016. This is the day when the 63rd National Film Awards are scheduled to be distributed by the President of India at a glittering official function in New Delhi, where the who’s who of the glamour world, felicitated for their artistic and creative talents, would rub shoulders with the high and mighty of Indian politics and administration. 

Southern cinema and National Awards

May 3, 2016. This is the day when the 63rd National Film Awards are scheduled to be distributed by the President of India at a glittering official function in New Delhi, where the who’s who of the glamour world, felicitated for their artistic and creative talents, would rub shoulders with the high and mighty of Indian politics and administration.

Come May 3, the Telugu film industry will have an extra minute of fame at the National Film Award ceremony unlike the previous years. However, the untimely death of film editor Kishore Te, who had won the award for the Tamil film ‘Visaranai’ is going to be a dampener to the celebrations

The selfies and photo-ops this year would be sweeter as the Telugu film industry would have an extra minute of fame than its southern contemporaries, who have more often than not, been the preferred choice of the jury for many years now.

As the awards were announced on March 28, there were delirious reactions of joy and relief all across Tollywood and its huge support base as one of 2015’s major box-office hits ‘Baahubali: The Beginning’ was selected for two awards – Best Feature Film and Best Special Effects ( see box).

As an achievement, a tad surprising for regional cinema, this film bagged the top slot in box-office collections at the national level, reportedly grossing about Rs 600 crore.

The bonus was ‘Kanche’, a refreshing film with an off-beat theme of a period love story set in the backdrop of World War II, which too justified the award it received – Best Feature Film in Telugu. Given its cinematic licenses here and there, the film still stayed rooted in the milieu it was conceived and was noticed for its ‘striving to bring about a change in the mindsets of people, which were deeply rooted in the caste system that is still prevailing in the present day society’, as a report in The Hans India noted.

Thus, this function would be a memorable one for Telugu film industry, as it has finally been considered for an award of worth and merit, which has come its way after many decades.

Battling a never-ending saga of super egos and superstar shadow boxing through their progenies and camps, this set of encomiums is a welcome relief indeed for Telugu cinema, for sure.

A bright spot for the moment even as star sons lick their wounds seeing their latest commercial ventures turn duds one after the other at the cash counters.

Studying the presence of southern film industry in the award scheme of things, the eternal fixture – Malayalam cinema- seems to have temporarily receded into the background.

The Tamil cinema industry, which has only been marginally better, has fared comparatively well, bagging a few awards.

Even as all this goes on, it has been a mixed bag as can be seen for Kodambakkam, where fans see it as a rightful honour for its music maestro Ilaiyarajaa, who has been awarded for his background score in ‘Tharai Thappattai’, a graphic film on the insecure lives of folk artistes.

Incidentally, Rajaa touched a new milestone, as it was his 1000th film, a career, which had begun with a rural background flick titled ‘Annakkili’ in 1976, in the black-and-white era of Tamil cinema.

A very notable coincidence, if it was one or an accidental official acknowledgement of his prowess by the government as they picked him up for the award!

The more poignant tale however is that of Kishore Te, the film editor who also set a record of sorts by being the first one to be awarded posthumously for his film ‘Visaranai’, a gripping film on police high-handedness, which also bagged two more awards.

Having suffered a brain clot and failing to recover from a coma which resulted afterwards, Kishore passed away in March 2015 at the age of 36 when people stabilise in their creative careers.

This Class X fail had many awards to his name, including the National Award twice for Editing, including the one bagged for another Tamil film in 2010.

Kishore’s editing skills were put to use in Tamil, Telugu and Kannada in movies like Nagarjuna’s ‘Gaganam’ to Puneeth Rajkumar’s ‘Prithvi’ to Prakash Raj’s ‘Dhoni’, earlier, apart from recent films of Lawrence like ‘Kanchana 2’, Dhanush’s ‘Kaakka Muttai’, etc.

In a recent interview to a Tamil magazine, Kungumam, Thyagarajan, the distraught father of Kishore, revealed that multi-lingual matinee idol Prakash Raj owes him a sum of Rs three lakhs for his last film, released two years ago. The list is obviously, not a short one, as the aggrieved father affirms.

“Those who owe him money should heed to the call of their conscience. Or else, we would be confined to living out our remaining lives in his memory,” says the emotionally-overcome father of three, out of whom Kishore was the only son.

“He had worked for nearly 74 films and on that basis he should have been financially comfortable. But people who know us are surprised to know that he never had much money even after having worked for so many movies.

The plot that he bought to build a house is still lying vacant, as he could not devote his time and efforts on it,” Thyagarajan added.

Kishore Te, like the way he used to be known, was a unique, yet a typical case of overworked burnout in the celluloid world. Indeed, it is a cruel reflection of the state of affairs of the film industry which is at once cut-throat and exploitative, even going to the extent of snuffing out the lives of talented ones like this film editor, with its sheer indifference and unprofessionalism.

Meanwhile, it has been reported that mercurial actor Prakash Raj is poised to direct volatile performer Nana Patekar in the Hindi version of his Tamil-Telugu bi-lingual ‘Ulavacharu Biryani’ titled ‘Tadka’.

While it goes to showcase the enduring box-office appeal of the Malayalam original Salt ‘n’ Pepper on which this 2014 film was based, not many know it was the film’s editor, Kishore Te, who made it a watchable work in Tamil and Telugu languages.

With its inconsistent, highly discriminatory approaches, the film industry sees the juggernaut roll on, hiding the grime behind the glamour, much better than many other sectors.

Southern Success
Category Winner Award Language
Best Feature Film Baahubali:The Beginning Swarna Kamal Telugu
Best Film on other Social Issues Nirnayakam Rajat Kamal Malayalam
Best Film on Environment/Conservation/ P'reservation

Valiya Chirakulla


Rajat Kamal Malayalam
Best Supporting Actor

Samuthirakani for film – Visaranai

Rajat Kamal Tamil
Best Child Artiste Gaurav Menon for film-Ben Rajat Kamal Malayalam
Best Editing Kishore Te for film- Visaranai Rajat Kamal Tamil
Best Music Direction (Songs) M Jayachandran for film- Ennu Ninte Moideen Rajat Kamal Malayalam
Best Music Direction (Background Score) Ilaiyarajaa for film- Tharai Thappattai Rajat Kamal Tamil
Best Special Effects V Srinivas Mohan for film- Baahubali:The Beginning Rajat Kamal Telugu

Besides the above categories, southern films were also awarded certificates in Special Mention category, Regional Awards, Best Non- Feature Film Direction, Best Biographical Film, Best Arts/Cultural Film, Best Exploration/Adventure Film and for Best Book on Cinema.

By:K Naresh Kumar

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