The winners of the 61st National Awards were announced on Wednesday. It had some big names while many others were independent filmmakers trying to get a toehold in the film industry.
Accepted that these awards bring in recognition and prestige for the winners, but are they rewarding enough for the winners?
In monetary terms, the producer and director of the best film get Rs. 2.5 lakh each. The amount is same for the winner of the best director award.
The best actors (male as well as female) get Rs. 50,000 each.
Compare the figures with what the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) offers. The winner of best film gets about Rs. 4.5 lakh. While best director gets Rs. 18 lakh, best actor takes home
Rs 20 lakh. The same amount is awarded to the best actress awardee. The figures are approximiate and may change from year to year.
If we take a look at the international scenario, film festivals like Cannes and Oscars do not give any monetary rewards to their winners. However, they take home freebies worth thousands of dollars.
These film festivals also have some sections (Cannes has Palm d'Or, Grand Prix and Jury Prizes) that pay off monetarily. Additionally, the sponsors and advertisers, too, gift goodies to the winners and celebs attending the functions.
On the other hand, our National Awards do not facilitate any such benefit.
In an age where Indian cinema is getting experimenting and brave new directors are daring to break the mould, money remains a constraint. Directors and filmmakers often complain that getting producers for their out-of-box stories is difficult. Production houses want 'sure shot winning stories' (read repetitive and regressive) and big faces (read stars) before they invest in a film.
Talking to Hindustan Times, director-producer Arbaaz Khan said, "I don't think any winner thinks in terms of money. They are more than happy with recognition. It is not really monetary gain but just a token amount."
He, however, believes it is time the cash prize was increased. "I definitely feel that they should raise the amount with time, if and when they think it is right."
BA Pass director Ajay Bahl, however, disagrees. He said. "I think they should multiply the amount (Rs 2.5 lakh for the best film) by ten times. The recognition is fine, but what does the filmmaker get? Any film takes at least a crore to be produced. Minimum they should do is compensate filmmakers for all the taxes they have already paid."
Bahl also had some interesting suggestions for the panel on National Awards. "Considering the fact that most of the films winning National Awards rarely make money at the box office, I think they should ensure that the filmmakers get a decent monetary prize. That will encourage the producers too who put in a lot of risk," he added.
Bahl also said that the state should think of encouraging good cinema. They could fund the next film of the winner or at least help them raise funds for the next venture (after taking a look at the script). "This will raise the quality of cinema in the country," Ajay added.