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National Film Awards: Controversies Obscure Winners

Black Amitabh Bachchan Rani MukerjiNational Film Awards 2007: Controversies obscure winners (image: Amitabh Bachchan and Rani Mukerji in 'Black')

Buddhadeb Dasgupta's Bengali-language Kaalpurush - Memories in the Mist, the story of a mild-mannered office clerk (Rahul Bose) whose faltering career is counterbalanced by his wife's sudden celebrity, received Best Feature Film honors at the 53rd edition of the National Film Awards, covering Indian films produced in 2005.

The 53rd National Film Awards became mired in controversy last year after film critic Shyamli Banerjee filed a petition at the Delhi High Court, claiming that the awards were rigged by government officials. Banerjee also stated that Sanjay Leela Bhansali's drama Black should be ineligible for any National Film Award, as it is an adaptation of The Miracle Worker – according to the rules, adaptations are automatically disqualified.

Another petition, this one filed by documentary filmmaker Anand Patwardhan at the Mumbai High Court, challenged the National Film Awards regulations banning from the competition films without a censor certificate.

2007 National Film Award winners

Despite Banerjee's efforts, Black remained in competition, earning Amitabh Bachchan the Best Actor National Film Award. In the film, the veteran Bachchan has the "Anne Sullivan" role (with the addition of Alzheimer's disease), played on Broadway and in Arthur Penn's 1962 drama by Best Actress Academy Award winner Anne Bancroft. Rani Mukerji has the "Helen Keller" role (Best Supporting Actress Oscar winner Patty Duke on stage and in Penn's film).

Among the other 2007 National Film Award winners were Best Actress Sarika for Parzania and Rakesh Omprakash Mehra's political coming-of-age-musical Rang De Basanti, featuring Aamir Khan, Atul Kulkarni, and Kunal Kapoor, and which was selected as the Best Popular Film.

It should be noted that the National Film Awards are filled with quirky categories, such as "Best Film on Environment Conservation" and "Best Film on Family Welfare."

Amitabh Bachchan and Rani Mukerji Black photo: SLB Films.

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