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Reapers of a happy harvest

Raghuvaran and Prakash Raj in "Daya".

"EXPECT THE unexpected,' they say ... But even when I saw the first copy of "Kannathil Muththamittal" I expected great honours to come Keerthana's way ... I am glad my surmise proved right." That's actor Parthiban, the proud father, reacting to his daughter winning the country's Best Child Artiste award.

The 50th National Film Awards may not have rained Rajat Kamals on the Tamil film industry, but the downpour has been fairly decent. Six awards for "Kannathil ... " alone is an impressive show indeed. In fact winning laurels is almost a norm for Mani Ratnam's team. For most of them, including A. R. Rahman and Vairamuthu, national recognition is nothing new. Apart from being chosen as the Best Regional Film, "Kannathil ... " has also won laurels for audiography, and editing (Sreekar Prasad). For the award winning audiographer, A. S. Lakshminarayanan, the honour has come as a "pleasant surprise." "I worked hard. My director was satisfied with my work and I was happy that the audio results were to his taste."

But Lakshminarayanan had felt the same when he did "Roja" and "Bombay". In fact he had been part of Mani Ratnam's unit from the days of "Nayakan." "I worked in every creation of his, except "Dil Se." So I didn't expect anything this time," he says. Incidentally, this is Lakshminarayanan's second National Award. "The first one was for `Kadhalan' and that was a surprise too", adds this achiever who has 18 years of experience in audiography.

A.S. Lakshminarayanan.

"Beyond the line of humility is the simple truth... Keerthana herself felt that she has performed very well," Parthiban continues with a smile. Like Keerthana now, he too was not completely aware of the magnitude of the award when he first received it for his debut film, "Pudhiya Padhai." "Only when it took me a decade more of toil to win my second award ("Housefull") did I realise its greatness... "

The Special Jury award (instituted for the first time it is said) goes to Prakash Raj for doing a commendable job in the 12 films (in Tamil, Telugu and Kannada) he had worked in, in the past one year. "I don't want to name one or two films and leave the others. That wouldn't be fair. Every one of those projects is special to me ... basically I am glad to have been a part of many interesting films and also because my work in the past one year has been noticed," Prakash Raj sums up.

It is a recognition well deserved for Chandrasekhar — the Best Supporting Actor awardee. "I am very happy for him," says Jayabharathi, writer-director of "Nanba Nanba", the full-length feature that has fetched the award for Chandrasekhar. "I am sure it must have been a neck-to-neck race with Ajay Devgan, for the Best Actor slot."

Jayabharathi has a point. Chandrasekhar plays the role of a quadriplegic confined to the cot as a result of an accident. So with no body language to aid him, his performance was totally dependent on facial expressions. Not an easy task at all. But the actor came out with a heart-rending portrayal.

"Even when Jayabharathi narrated the story to me he said with conviction that the role would fetch me a national award," recollects Chandrasekhar. "The 11 days of shooting were like a penance for me. I was constantly thinking of the role and I wouldn't talk to anyone ... the hard work has paid dividends," says the jubilant actor.

" Very true ... Chandrasekhar was so morose at home too that his wife got worried and called me up to know what was happening ... in commitment, concentration, talent and performance Chandrasekhar reminds me of Jack Nicholson. Even during lunch break he would refuse to move out of the bed," smiles Jayabharathi.

A film like "Nanba Nanba" deserves more awards and better public response. It is heartening to hear Jayabharathi say that he was given to understand that it had narrowly missed the award for the Best Film — quality products should not go unsung.

Charlie and Chandrasekhar in "Nanba Nanba" ...

When a big film makes it big it is great news. It hogs the limelight, leaving the other achievers hovering in the wings. "Why does the media not even mention our achievement," asks R. C. Sakthi, who has come out with a splendid performance in the short film "Urumaatram".

"Urumaatram" wins the Best Environmental Film Award, in the non-feature film category. The 30-minute film directed by B. Sivakumar, has an important message excellently presented.

"I am a very emotional person. And when Sivakumar told me the end I could not control my tears. I was very unwell at that time and my family was against my travelling to Ooty for the shoot. But I felt I had to do the film. All credit goes to Sivakumar," says Sakthi.

Both G. M. Sundhar, the other actor in the film, and B. Sivakumar are on cloud nine. "We are thrilled," they say and have already planned their next project — a full-length feature this time.

"Urumaatram" had earlier been screened at the V FICA Festival and Sivakumar had been invited to Brazil for the event, informs Sundhar, who also played an important role in Lenin's award winning venture, "Oorukku Nooru Paer".

"We plan to make a short film every year," says this enthusiastic duo.


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