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Kanjeevaram has given top director Priyadarshan what his 75 films have not -- a National Award. The critically acclaimed Tamil film was Priyadarshan's first attempt at parallel cinema.
When it was being filmed, he had said: "This one is for myself. It is made for self-satisfaction. The other movies were made for money and fame. I am proud to say it is one of the best films made this year in India."
As it turned out, Kanjeevaram has been awarded the Best Film at the 55th National Awards.
In an exclusive interview, Priyadarshan -- who is currently shooting a Hindi film in Tamil Nadu -- spoke to Rajaneesh Vilakudy in a telephonic conversation about his great victory.
You have finally won a National Award for the Best Film.
Yes, finally! So many of my films were instrumental in getting top awards for technicians and others. But nothing came my way. Not that I longed for an award every time I made a film. But getting the award is something special. Finally, when I made a film for myself, I am bestowed with an award.
This should be a reply for many of your critics.
Yes, it is an answer to my critics. They have slammed me in every way they could. That is why I said I made Kanjeevaram for myself. I wanted to prove people wrong. I make films for money and fame. But I made Kanjeevaram for recognition. I am happy that it bore the right results. Let critics eat their words.
Kanjeevaram created ripples wherever it was screened.
I was overwhelmed by the reaction. At the Toronto film festival, my film got a 20-minute standing ovation. I was thrilled. Eminent filmmakers like Shyam Benegal and Adoor Gopalakrishan appreciated the film. Mr Benegal said watching Kanjeevaram was like reading a Tolstoy novel. That was a huge compliment.
Any sour notes? The film is dubbed anti-Communist.
Yes, some Left fellow-travellers described the film as anti-Communist. Such criticism has no substance, let me add.
Kanjeevaram had a rich haul. You must have expected an award for your cinematographer Thiru as well.
Yes, Thiru should have got the award. He deserved the award more than anyone else. Without Thiru, I could not have made the film. Ever since I heard the news, I was thinking about Thiru's loss.
The film got Prakash Raj win his first National Award for the Best Actor. It is said that Mohanlal was your first choice in Kanjeevaram.
Yes, Mohanlal was the first choice. But he had too many commitments. So I turned to Prakash Raj. In fact, his Tamil factor helped the film.
So Mohanlal's loss was Prakash Raj's gain.
Not exactly. Mohanlal has nothing left to prove. He has won many awards.
Is there any film that you would have loved to get an award for?
[Malayalam film] Kalaapani, maybe.