Thiruvananthapuram: A deep admiration for Dileesh Pothen’s ‘Maheshinte Prathikaram’ seems to be the only emotion A. K. Bir and Priyadarshan share. Otherwise, the choices of Malayalam films by the state and national award juries looked like an absolute repudiation of each other. The Bir-headed State Film Jury had found ‘Maheshinte Prathikaram’ to be the most popular film with aesthetic appeal and picked its writer Shyam Pushkaran as the best scenarist. National award jury chairman Priyadarshan, too, bestowed the best screenplay award on Pushkaran, besides choosing ‘Maheshinte Prathkaram’ as the best Malayalam film.
Besides the Pothen film, none of the films that were in the reckoning of the Bir-headed state jury – ‘Manhole’, ‘Ottayal Patha’, ‘Guppy’, and ‘Kammattipadam’ – could get a single mention in the national award winners’ list. And most of the performances the state jury found worthwhile – Vinayakan (‘Kammattipadam’), Kaladharan (‘Ottayal Patha’), Rejisha Vijayan (‘Anuraga karikkin Vellam’), and P K Kanchana (‘Olapeppi’) – were ignored by the national jury. However, Surabhi, whose work in ‘Minnaminungu’ was recognised by the state jury with a special jury mention, was picked as the best female actor (female) by the national jury.
One of the acts, Mohanlal’s, which the state jury found unimpressive, was given a special jury mention by Priyadarshan’s jury. Priyadarshan even went on record saying that the fight for the top actor award was between Mohanlal and Akshay Kumar (who eventually won the prize). What’s more, ‘Pulimurugan’, which was not considered for even a technical award by the state jury, was picked for an award instituted for the first time in history: the best stunt choreography. This introductory award, which went to Peter Hein, was also announced last by Priyadarshan, an honour usually reserved for the best film. Priyadarshan said the jury was so mesmerised by the performances of child artistes that the best child actor prize was shared among three, including Adish Praveen’s in the Malayalam film ‘Kunju Daivam’. Chetan Jayalal’s act in ‘Guppy’, which the state jury adjudged the best, but went unnoticed. There was one more award where both state and national jury concurred: best sound design for Jayadevan Chakkadath in Dr Biju’s ‘Kaadu Pookkunna Neram’.