Reporting by Niveda Manohar
Every year, the prestigious Gollapudi Srinivas National Award ceremony is graced by a host of celebrities from the film industry, and this year was no exception. Chiranjeevi, Farah Khan, Anushka Shetty, Suhasini Maniratnam, Siddharth, Pooja Kumar, and Karthik Subbaraj were all present at the event. Established in 1998, the national-level award is given to a first-time director every year, in the memory of Gollapudi Srinivas, a young director, who passed away during the shoot of his maiden film Prema Pusthakam in 1992. This year, the winner was Sanjeev Gupta, for his debut film Q.
The event began with an audio-visual featuring past winners (including its most famous recipient, Aamir Khan), who shared their experiences of making their first film. The memorial lecture is one of the highlights of the ceremony and stalwarts like Naseeruddin Shah, Sunil Dutt, Javed Akhtar, Mrinal Sen, Shyam Bengal, Amol Palekar, Girish Karnad, and Rishi Kapoor have delivered the memorial lecture in the past. Surprisingly, this year it was delivered by a relatively young actor, Siddharth.
Siddharth said he too had been surprised at the honour, but justified the decision by acknowledging that 14 of his 25 films had been directed by debutantes. Siddharth spoke eloquently about the process of film-making, comparing it to the process of giving birth. He compared the director to the mother, the producer to the father, the actors to the midwives and nurses, and the doctors to the distributor, responsible for bringing the child (the film) to the audience. Karthik Subbaraj jokingly added – “In real life, the husband and wife marry after getting to know each other, but in cinema, only after becoming pregnant will the wife know whether the husband is a good man or not.”
Commenting on Karthik Subbaraj being introduced as ‘the next Mani Ratnam’, Suhasini said, “He doesn’t have to be the next Mani Ratnam. He just needs to stay true to his style of film-making.” Meanwhile, Chiranjeevi was welcomed with whistles and chants of ‘Megastar’, and spoke to the audience in Telugu about his closeness with the Gollapudi family. He further said that the award was the greatest tribute one could make for a deceased family member.
Farah Khan jokingly said that the ceremony had been an unusual experience for her. ‘I usually give or receive awards, choreograph the performances, or say something bad about the winners.’ Not this time, it seems.
The ceremony drew to a close with a choreographed classical dance performance by Antaram, focusing on women’s empowerment. Narrated by Suhasini, the performance combined mythological elements in unique ways, and brought the well-applauded occasion to a satisfying conclusion.