The announcement of the Rajat Kamal for Akshay Kumar at the 64th national awards stumped many. But this is not the first time that the jury's decision has evoked controversy. Here's a quick recap of past national awardees who made headlines for the wrong reasons.
We leave you to judge for yourself.
Film: Umrao Jaan (1981)
The ugly duckling transformed into a swan with films like 'Khoobsoorat' and 'Muqqaddar ka Sikandar' but the icing on the cake Rekha came when she won the National award for her immaculate portrayal of an 18th-century courtesan. But this decision stirred up a hornet's nest when it was said that the original choice for the award was Jeniffer Kapoor whose portrayal as Miss Stone in Aparna Sen’s classic '36, Chowringhee Lane' the same year, was so real and impressive that she was every jury member’s favourite that year. Unfortunately, since Sen’s film was primarily in English, the committee decided to give it to the next contender- Rekha!
Rekha herself admitted that Kapoor was a more deserving candidate.
Film: New Delhi Times(1985)
When Shashi Kapoor won the Rajat Kamal for his portrayal of an editor, quite a few eyebrows were raised. it was Jaya Bachchan who stood by the actor and said that the richly-deserved honour came for his honest portrayal of a newspaper editor who uncovers a political assassination and gets embroiled in a fight against injustice. So what if he belonged to the 'mainstream' actors' breed? questioned Bachchan.On the other hand, even Kapoor admitted he was rather uncomfortable playing a believable journalist of a daily in the New Delhi Times when he was asked to deliver his lines "slowly and with more emotion".
Film: Agneepath (1990)
Though the baritone-voiced actor ruled the marquee through the 1970s and 1980s , his moment of honour came in 1990 when the jury for the national awards found his style of dialogue delivery unique and worthy of the award for the portrayal of Vijay Dinanath Chouhan in 'Agneepath', in which the actor has changed his tone and mouthed dialogues at a much lower pitch . But his fans were not that happy with the change and nor were the critics. Producer Yash Johar got his voice re-dubbed in Bachchan’s original voice after the first few days of feedback.
Film: Daman (2001)
After Shabana Azmi and Dimple Kapadia, when Kalpana Lajmi teamed up with Raveena Tandon for the portrayal of a battered wife in 'Daman', the actress pinned her hopes on the film for getting the most coveted trophy of her career. And she did get it, albeit amidst much controversy
The raging debate started by the media when it was found that one of the members of the jury, late actor Macmohan was actually Raveena's maternal uncle.
This feud ended as the chairperson of that year’s jury director Pradeep Krishen along with two other jury members quit the Feature Film Jury stating that a "cynical political cartel in the jury bulldozed its way as it had pre-decided many of the awards." But somehow, the tables turned and Krishen announced on a private news channel that Tandon was a "unanimous choice".
Saif Ali Khan
Film: HumTum (2004)
In 2001, 'Dil Chahta Hai' made Saif stand apart on his own when he was pitted against the likes of Aamir Khan and Akshaye Khanna. But when he was announced as the recipient of the best actor honour by the national awards jury in 2004 for Hum Tum it did not go down well with many. The 17- member jury headed by the experienced director Sudhir Mishra defended their choice saying, "Saif has improved a lot," which further offended many other film personalities, who retorted that the actor should be given a 'best effort' award instead. It was believed that the decision was influenced by the position of his mother, actress Sharmila Tagore, who was the chairperson of the Censor Board at that time.
Film: Legend of Bhagat Singh (2002)
Devgn got his first national award in 1999 for 'Zakhm' which was well received. But when he got it for 'The legend of Bhagat Singh' directed by Rajkumar Santoshi, it came under the scanner as the chairperson of the jury was filmmaker Prakash Jha and Devgn was doing his ambitious project 'Gangajal' at that point in time.
Besides these Sunny Deol and Karisma Kapoor also did not evoke much favourable responses when they won best supporting actor awards for 'Damini' and 'Dil To Paagal Hai' respectively. When Kangna Ranaut got her best supporting actor (female ) award for 'Fashion', in fact, it was considered to be her swan song. The critics are still sitting on that one.