Saturday February 24, 2018

How National Film Awards reflect India’s diversity in cinema

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By Shreya Upadhyaya

If there’s anything that has been constant for Hindi film actress Kangana Ranaut since 2013, apart from rumours, it is the appreciation for her performance in the critically acclaimed and commercially successful ‘Queen’. And this year’s National Film Award for the Best Actress was another feather to her hat. The Vikas Bahl-directed flick went on to win the Best Hindi Film as well.

Vishal Bharadwaj’s ‘Haider’, an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, won the most awards – Best Music Direction, Best Dialogue, Best Male Playback Singer, Best Choreography and Best Costumes.

National Film Awards 2015 are a mix of popular cinema as well as films with a niche audience. Most of the narratives explore different genres and weave stories that reflect the changing Indian society.

Court’, a little known quadrilingual film, was adjudged the Best Feature Film. Directed by Chaitanya Tamhane, the movie depicts the “mundaneness of judicial procedure” and the “heart-wrenching insensitivity of institutional structures.” It was released in Hindi, English, Marathi and Gujarati last year and narrates the story of the trial of an ageing folk singer charged with abetting the suicide of a sewage worker, through his music.

While ‘Naanu Avanalla Avalu’ (Kannada) is a film on transgenders, ‘Ain’ (Malyalam) is a story set in a Muslim household, how one of its members happens to witness a murder and his escape thereafter. Kannada actor Vijay won the Best Actor Award for “his subtle and non-stereotypical” portrayal of a woman trapped in a man’s body for ‘Nanu Avanalla Avalu’.

Thriller ‘Chotushkone’ (Bengali) directed by Srijit Mukherji is a film about four directors coming together for a film with four different stories, all thematically connected by a common thread — death.

‘Kuttram Kadithal’ (Tamil) revolves around how one unexpected incident influences people from diverse lifestyles.  Bengali filmmaker Aditya Vikram Sengupta’s debut ‘Asha Jaoar Majhe’ is a story that unfolds two lives suspended amid the threat of an escalating recession.

Animation film ‘Sound of Joy’ tells the story of today’s kids, struggling with their aspirations and expectations and how they get inspired by stories of Biley (childhood name of Swami Vivekananda).

Shot in Orissa’s Rayagada district, ‘I cannot give you my forest’ is a film that explores and tries to spread the importance of forest food in the tribal culture. Its focus on such an integral and crucial environment issue has made it bag several prestigious awards globally.

‘Nachom-ia Kumpasar’ (Konkani) is based on the lives of two musicians and is narrated through over 20 popular Konkani songs from the 1960s and 1970s that have been re-recorded for this film. ‘Killa’ (Marathi) portrays the life of a young boy who has a hard time settling in his new countryside home after his father’s death in their previous city home. Several other films were awarded in different categories.

With filmmakers across the country daring to unveil, explore and narrate untold stories, forgotten accounts and ignored events, the National Film Awards always come in as confirmation of what India takes pride in – Unity in Diversity.

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  • More than diversity, I think the award shows an underlying discontent and urgent need for change in the society. All the movies in some way or the other portrayal of breaking free from the stifling society.

    Our decadent government touting development and progress like some door to door salesman of substandard products, needs to learn something from this.

  • That’s a relevant point and another interesting perspective through which these films can be seen.

  • More than diversity, I think the award shows an underlying discontent and urgent need for change in the society. All the movies in some way or the other portrayal of breaking free from the stifling society.

    Our decadent government touting development and progress like some door to door salesman of substandard products, needs to learn something from this.

  • That’s a relevant point and another interesting perspective through which these films can be seen.

Next Story

Is Hindi The National Language of India?

In a country like India where more than 1600 languages persist, is it possible to have one national language without moving towards chaos?

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There are more than 150 languages in India that spoken by at least 10,000 people. Out of which, Hindi is the most widely spoken language, amounting to 40% speakers in the population. Wikimedia Commons
There are more than 150 languages in India that are spoken by at least 10,000 people. Out of which, Hindi is the most widely spoken language, amounting to 40% speakers in the population. Wikimedia Commons

BY SHANTAM SAHAI 

  • 1600 languages and dialects are spoken in India, out of which, none is the ‘national language’
  • Hindi and English, as mentioned in Article 343 of the Indian constitution, are official languages of India
  • 22 languages are mentioned in the eighth schedule of the Indian constitution, all of which can be considered as national languages or official languages

India, the seventh-largest and second-most populous country in the world, home to 1.3 billion people who speak 1600 languages, is widely known for its cultural diversity. The world’s largest democracy consists of 29 states, which were divided on the basis of language. Hindi, a language spoken by 41% and known to 53% of the population, is misconceived to be the ‘national language’ of India. The Indian constitution does not mention any ‘national language’. However Hindi (along with English) is the official language of India.

Article 343(1) of the Indian constitution says: 

“(1) The official language of the Union shall be Hindi in Devanagari script. The form of numerals to be used for the official purposes of the Union shall be the international form of Indian numerals.”

Thus, Hindi is NOT is the national language, but the official language of India.

ALSO READ: How angry “Hindi” voters turned the tables against Congress in 1977 elections

Difference between ‘National language’ and ‘Official language’

An official language is one used for official/governmental purposes. It has a legal standing and is used in the judiciary, central legislature, and executive documents. Official languages have more to do with day-to-day work.

Whereas, a national language is a national symbol. It has a common representation of the people living in the geographical territory of the country. A national language has sentimental values connected with it, as it reflects a ‘common individuality’ (in linguistic terms) from the world.

The Indian national flag, national emblem, national anthem, national animal, national bird, or the national language, all of them are national symbols which unite us as the countrymen of India. Wikimedia Commons
The Indian national flag, national emblem, national anthem, national animal, the national bird, or national language, all of them are national symbols which unite us as the countrymen of India. Wikimedia Commons

Why India has no national language?

A national language is supposed to unite the citizens of the country under one umbrella. Other than the percentage of users, what matters more is the spread of the language i.e. if it is to unite a country as a national symbol, a language needs to have users spread in all parts of the country. As in the case of India, we have no such language.

ALSO READ: How Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism Influence Early Tamil History?

A national language needs to widespread, not only widely spoken. India has no such language. Facebook
A national language needs to be widespread, not only widely spoken. India has no such language. Facebook

As you can see on the map, Hindi maybe widely spoken, but it is not widespread. Hindi (and its variants) is spoken in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi (the capital), Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and Rajasthan. Whereas, the eastern and southern states have no trace of it. Hindi, may be known in various other parts, does not command any sentimental value in other states.

Moreover, languages other than Hindi have a significant amount of speakers. For example,

  • No. of Bengali speakers: 83,369,769
  • No. of Telugu speakers: 74,002,856 
  • No. of Marathi speakers: 71,936,894 
  • No. of Tamil speakers: 60,793,814 
  • No. of Kannada speakers: 37,924,011 
  • No. of Gujarati speakers: 46,091,617 
  • No. of Odiya speakers: 33,017,446 
  • No. of Malayalam speakers: 33,066,392 

Hence, there cannot be one national language in India. Therefore, the Constitution of India in its eighth schedule mentions 22 languages; all of which can be referred to as national languages or official languages.