National Awards Jury Member on Tollywood Performance

National Awards Jury Member on Tollywood Performance

Tollywood is furious why it was ignored intentionally by the Censor Board even when it made quality films like ‘Sri Rama Rajyam’, ‘Rajanna’ by jury of 59th National Awards. got in touch with Satish Kasetti, member of National Awards Jury to find out reasons for why tollywood is not getting the coveted awards. Satish, made big strides when he won national award for his film ‘Hope’.

Preliminary Process

Satish explaining about the process of selection for the final phase of awards, says ‘Only 13 regional languages in India are eligible for national awards. This time there were 165 films in fray and they are categorised on zonal basis North, East, West and South. But as we got lot of entries from South, it was again sub categorised into South-1 and South-2. I am the member of South-1 division. Along with me there were 3 more members and Chairman. Our team was assigned the task of scrutinising and shortlisting 30% of films and sending it to the higher ups. South-1 comprised of Kannada and Telugu films. 10 films were sent to central jury out of 36 films. This concludes the preliminary stage’

Major Difference

Explaining the difference between National and Nandi awards Satish says " National awards are different in the sense that there won’t be any sub categories like in Nandi awards which has seperate awards for children, social, national integration etc. For national awards we should analyse whether the film has qualities for winning national awards and that’s it. We scrutinise on the basis of Director’s experience, film’s subject, whether it qualifies for national or regional award. Divisional Jury Chairman sends it to Central Committee. All Divisional Jury Chairmen together watches these films. They are from all over India and none of them will be aware of other members"

"Directorate of Film Society takes care of all these things. Along with Divisional Jury members who arrives at the decision, 5 member additional member team will join them  and film society chairman once again watches these films. They will decide on which film should be given award by the  12 member committee. The entire discussion will be recorded and also saved in writing. If any film gets 50-50 votes then Film society chariman will cast the final vote but till now this situation never arose.

Jury Opinion on Tollywood

This year there were 18 films from tollywood and our jury members watched them all with keen interest. In some films irrelevant songs, fights, comedy scenes cropped up in the middle and they commented them as ‘video albums’. This time however many films went for final scrutiny (should not reveal the number). While tollywood films had jury members in splits of laughter, sandalwood members made them cry.
Govt gives 20 lacs subsidy to films that revolve on problems in society. For subsidy, many film makers completed films with in 5 lacs and sent them as entries. All these films were of 2-1/2 hrs duration. As jury members should watch the entire film however bad they were, they experienced the ordeal.

Tollywood’s Comedy of Errors

Songs and lyrics of one tollywood film were excellent but none of the jury members knew telugu. Under these circumstances, jury members asks copy of translation of those lyrics in english. When contacted, film society members found that the film wasn’t attached with the copy of translation. When film makers who were in Hyd were contacted, producer said he didnot provide with the copy. So when rules are not followed, even though the film was extremely good, no one can help.

Similarly another telugu film was extremely good with visual effects and had great clarity. But till interval not a single dialogue was spoken. Another two films raised interest of jury members but had same problem. One more film impressed the jury but it didnot carry subtitles. Some films had problems with audio. When no one in the jury knows other language, even jury cannot help if excellent tollywood films don’t follow basic norms.

Competition at Different Plateau

Our panel sent ‘Ananganaga O Dheerudu’ for best costumes and special effects award at national level. It had to compete with ‘Ra.One’ there. Even child artist Ani, who mesmerised all as Mallamma in ‘Rajanna’ was sent for  child artist award. There she had to compete with ‘Satnley Ka Dabba’. Role duration and importance will give preference.

Nandi awards has one format and National awards have another format. Criteria is entirely different for Oscars. Films in fray should fit in that format. Once films are selected for National Awards then the process for regional awards start. This time telugu, konkani and Oriya didnot get regional awards. The films in these languages will be compared with those selected in other regional languages but when these films don’t reach that standard, then jury willnot announce awards in that particular language.

Art vs Commercial

There is a misconception that only art films gets awards. Then Munnabhai and its sequel, 3 Idiots, Lagaan, Dil Chahta Hai are not art films. Many feel that there will be heavy lobbying. But as far as I know it willbe extremely difficult for lobbying. This is because different members will be there in division jury, and also in central jury. One cannot influence so many members.
Same thing happened in case of ‘Barry’ film. I suggested the film should go to national level but another member for regional level. There was lot of discussion on the merits of the film before it was sent to national level where it went on to win  award. Even if some one favors another film. central jury will again watch the film why it was set aside when the film won accolades. So there will be transparency in all possible ways.

Tollywood impression

National Award is a matter of pride but Tollywood views it differently. My film ‘Hope’ won National Award and the next film ‘Kalavaramaye Madilo’ Nandi Award. If our films also win in other languages and fields then we get recognition. But tollywood ground reality is totally different.

If I start narrating a script many comment that you are good at  art films . After those two films I never got opportunity in tollywood. Many feel awards come for art films and now no one is there to take those films. If any new director wins national award one cannot predict his future in tollywood. Forget about award any talented director first should get an opportunity to showcase his talent.

National Awards Jury Member on Tollywood Performance
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