State film awards: When jury chairman almost walked out

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It is said that Shahani had disagreements regarding the selection of award winners
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Thiruvananthapuram: The 49th Kerala State Film Awards has been mired in controversy with reports claiming that the jury chairman, Kumar Shahani had a row with other members of the jury.

It is said that Shahani had disagreements regarding the selection of award winners in many categories including best film and best director.

The disagreement escalated to the situation where an irate chairman almost staged a walk out, apparently saying, “You can do whatever you want, I will sign on it.” However, he was reportedly persuaded and brought back by the Chalachitra Academy members.

There were reports that Kumar Shahani, who has serious health issues, had watched only the movies which made it to the final round. When the veteran filmmaker argued that the director of the best film should be given the best director award as well, other jury members pointed out that it was not applicable even at international film festivals.

Aami and Carbon's big win

The movies Aami and Carbon, which the cultural minister’s office had initially instructed to refrain from competing for the awards, however, had a great run.

Aami, directed by Kamal, the chairman of the Chalachitra Academy won two awards while Carbon directed by Chalachitra Academy vice chairperson Beena Paul’s husband Venu bagged six prominent awards. It was Beena Paul who edited Cabon. However, she was not considered for the award in her respective category. Aami won the awards for best background score and best playback singer female. Carbon won awards for best cinematography, music composer, sync sound, sound mixing, sound designing and laboratory/colorist.

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The minister’s office had instructed to withdraw Aami and Carbon from the awards race initially, to avoid unwarranted controversies. This instruction was given following the directive which stated that the movies in which the academy members had worked shouldn’t be considered for the awards. However, this instruction was repealed as it was decided that there was nothing wrong for these movies to compete in other categories.

When the mediapersons asked whether there was any partiality as the movie, directed by the academy vice chairperson’s husband, had won many awards, minister A K Balan replied that there wouldn’t be a question of partiality as long as the LDF government was in power.

Academy secretary Mahesh Panchu pointed out that expert technicians from outside the state had judged the movies in the technical categories. Meanwhile, Beena Paul said that she had refrained from competing being a member of the academy. However, she added that other artistes and technicians who worked in the movie deserved to be considered for the awards in their categories.

Kumar Shahani's absence

Kumar Shahani, Kamal and Beena Paul did not attend the announcement of the awards. Minister Balan informed that Kumar Shahani was resting as he was not keeping well. Kamal is currently in Lakshadweep filming his latest movie while Beena Paul was in Bengaluru. Jury member actress Navya Nair and chairman of the writing department Dr P K Pokker too did not attend the announcement session.

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