The Telugu film industry had plenty of reasons to celebrate, with S.S. Rajamouli-directed Baahubali 2 and Sankalp Reddy-directed Ghazi emerging as big winners at the 65th National Awards. While Baahubali 2 bagged three prime awards — Best Popular Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment, Best Action Choreography (King Solomon, Lee Whittaker, Kecha Khamphakdee) and Best Special Effects (R.C. Kamalakannan) — Ghazi was declared the best Telugu film. Rajamouli tweeted about his magnum opus' achievement and also showed his appreciation for the Ghazi team.
Rana Daggubati, who starred in both films, was understandably on cloud nine.
Baahubali 2 producer Shobu Yarlagadda of Arka Media Works said the award meant that the team's hard work and efforts had been recognised. "Winning National Awards is definitely a special feeling and a noteworthy moment. To be honest, we expected to win the Special Effects and Popular Film award. The Action Choreography award was unexpected, as it is not given out consistently. We are very happy for Ghazi too. They tried something different and experimental, and deserve the honour of being the best Telugu film."
In an exclusive interview, Prasad V Potluri of PVP Cinema, the producers of Ghazi, said he always believed that audiences would respect their "honest filmmaking". "Ghazi was not just a bold film; it was also a big-budgeted affair in an untouched genre. We were also backing a debut director (Reddy). We wanted to make it engaging as well as entertaining; and not deliver a docu-drama. It was a painstaking process which took close to two years of sustained efforts. DoP Madhie, editor Sreekar Prasad and the VFX team were key contributors. I expected Madhie's cinematography to win an award, but it's not in our hands. What we can do is put in our efforts. Thankfully, Ghazi is a film which has brought in rewards as well as awards. One can do numerous commercial films, but when a film like Ghazi works wonders, it shall forever remain a source of pride," he said.
Potluri said the firm intended to continue encouraging new talent. "Our Kshanam was recently remade as Baaghi 2 and it has turned out to be a huge blockbuster. Our next film will occupy the same crime-thriller space, but won't be a sequel to Kshanam. Another debut director will take charge," he said.
The National Awards jury, headed by Shekhar Kapur, also felicitated Malayalam cinema, with K.J. Yesudas winning Best Male Playback Singer, Fahadh Faasil winning Best Supporting Actor and Parvathy getting a special mention. The industry also bagged other important awards such as Best Direction, Best Screenplay (both original and adapted), Best Production Design and Best Cinematography.