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|April 2, 2001||
Three members resigned from the 48th National Film Awards jury. Two award winners rejected the Best Bengali Film and Special Jury Awards. In the wake of the recent controversy, some directors have now suggested that selection of jury be made more transparent.
Filmmaker Gautam Ghosh had refused the award for Best Bengali Film, Dekha, while thespian Soumitra Chatterjee turned down the Special Jury Award for his role of a blind poet in the same film. While Ghosh said the awards had become 'farcical' with reports indicating that the names of some winners had been decided before the official declaration, Chatterjee said the award was of "little significance" to him.
While saying that he was not "at all uncomfortable or embarrassed" with the National Award as Best Director for his Bengali film, Utsav, filmmaker Rituparno Ghosh states, "I think the lesson from this, if any, is to publish the credentials of a juror right at the onset of the selection procedure."
This would, the acclaimed director of Dahan says, "encourage generation of public opinion at the beginning rather than diffused impressions through media reports."
Rituparno Ghosh adds, "The current farce of a confidential selection committee should be completely done away with. This confidentiality leaves us nowhere except for allowing vested interest to tamper with it."
Ghosh feels "relieved about the fact that my award was above all controversies and unanimously accepted by the jury. Controversy or difference of opinion among the jury board has been quite a regular feature in any kind of decision, leave alone National Awards. It would be very naive on our part to presume that the National Awards were free from corruption for all these years.
"The only difference is that some few sensible, sensitive and forthright members of the jury have brought it out in the open."
About Soumitra Chatterjee rejecting the Special Jury Award for his role as a blind poet in a crumbling mansion in Dekha, Rituparno Ghosh says, ruefully, "Soumitrada has been very unfortunate as far as the National Awards or acting is concerned.
"I would consider this more of a misfortune on our part than on his that we have for so long failed to recognise and reward an actor of such outstanding stature."
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