Byari shared the National Award with Umesh Kulkarni's Marathi film Deool at the 59th National awards that were announced in New Delhi today.
"Byari (also known as Beary) is an ethnic society trapped in their own faiths and beliefs, having its own traditions and distinct cultural identity. I did a lot of research on the society and their beliefs after reading works by various authors," he said.
He said the film was shot on a limited budget but he could capture the environs of the Byari despite the limitations. "When I see the film now, I think I could have beautified it more," Suveeran, hailing from Kannur, said.
"I am basically a theatre man, and you can find some traits of theatre in the movie. When I started working on this film, I had to face this challenge. A certain amount of give and take should be visible when one works in both the mediums," he said.
This is the first-ever film made in 'Byari' language, spoken mainly by people belonging to the community in the coastal regions of north Kerala and Dakshina Kannada district in Karnataka.
In the Ullal region in Dakshina Kannada, people
belonging to other communities have also adopted Byari as their local language. Byari language, which has links with Malayalam, Urdu and Tulu, does not have a script.
The film, which was shown in some festivals, had won rave reviews. It has Tamil and Malayalam actress Mallika (who got a special mention from the jury for her performance) in the lead role, while popular Malayalam actor Mamukkoya appears in a "very serious negative role" in the film as her father, the director said.
The film depicts the culture, tradition and language of the 'Byari' community. It highlights strict laws and regulations of marriage in the community, pros and cons of divorce in Islam and how it affects the women.
"The film, which is based on issues connected with 'Iddat' (marriage) and 'talaq' (divorce) in Islam, tries to bring such problems to the notice of Islamic law-makers," he added.
Meanwhile, Ranjith, whose Indian Rupee was adjudged the Best Malayalam Film, said he was happy at the recognition by the national jury.
"It was a film that reached out to the audience and the reception it got in theatres enthused me a lot," he said.
Sherrey, whose debut film Adimadhyantham, got a special mention from the jury, said the honour was a recognition for new generation of cinema. The film tells the miserable plight of endosulfan victims in Kasaragod district.
"This is an award for Malayalees who stood for the cause highlighted by the movie," he said.