Tamil films have been steadily progressing in recent times as they have transformed their space from being a medium that serves the ruling class to a medium that tries to educate, agitate, and organise itself against the barbarity of oppression. The National Film Awards prides itself on selecting films that reflect the cultural, political, and philosophical nature of the Union of India’s landscape, so some fans, cinephiles, and the general public feel as though the judging committee has sidelined some of the greatest works of Tamil cinema of recent date that truly capture the essence of its society.
Several prestigious and revolutionary Tamil films that defied both the conservatism of politics and cinematic conventions were nominated at the National Film Awards, but their art failed to be recognised by the jury. Pa. Ranjith’s Sarpatta Parambarai, Mari Selvaraj’s Karnan, and TG Gnanavel’s Jai Bhim were all contending in the category for Best Film. The directors of the films were also in the running for Best Director, while Arya, Dhanush, and Suriya were nominated in the categories for Best Actor for their phenomenal work in the said films. For the category of Best Supporting Actor, both Manikandan for Jai Bhim and Pasupathy for Sarpatta Parambai were nominated for their unforgettable and provocative portrayals in the films, but alas, their artistry too went underappreciated and unrecognised by the selection committee.
Many have expressed their outmost disappointment in the selection process, for they shared that these films were works of art that not only greatly entertained people but also told stories of the appressed. The cinema of Pa. Ranjith and Mari Selvaraj is the representation of the subaltern speaking and advocating for themselves. These are also two of the most prominent filmmakers in Tamil cinema history who are constantly contributing to the progressive shift in the foundation of cinema and art. Director Vetrimaaran has once stated that when history speaks of Tamil cinema, there will be two eras carefully categorised: the era before Pa. Ranjith and the era after Pa. Ranjith. For a prestigious and honorary award such as the National Film Awards to have completely sidelined a momentous artistic figure such as Pa. Ranjith leaves many baffled and clueless as to the credibility of the organisation in recognising meaningful and transformative art and cinema.
Tamil films that did receive recognition from the National Film Awards were Manikandan’s Kadaisi Vivasaayi for Best Tamil Film, with Special Mention for Best Actor for actor Late Shri Nallandi, who performed with brilliant naturalism and subtilty in Kadaisi Vivasaayi. Shreya Ghoshal had won Best Female Playback Singer for her work on the song Maayavaa Chaayava from Iravin Nizhal. While the film Sirpangalil Sirpangal won Best Educational Film,