While a new phase in the controversy regarding Akshay Kumar’s nationality has been sparked off by writer Apurva Asrani’s insensitive and selfish tweet wondering if Akshay should have got the National award in 2017, director Priyadarshan who headed the jury that year has come out in defence of Akshay’s National award. Says Priyan, “I really don’t know where this line of thought is coming from or going. There is absolutely no restriction on persons holding a non-Indian passport getting a National film award. Believe me, I’d know. I headed the National award jury during the year when Akshay won the Best actor award. There was no dispute at all over his win. The decision to honour his performance in Rustom was unanimous. No rule in the national awards states that a foreign national should be barred.”
India’s entertainment industry is filled with opportunists. Nothing new in that. But the levels of selfishness and self-interest displayed by Akshay Kumar’s friends in the film industry as he gets severely trolled for his Canadian passport, takes one’s breath way. I’ve approached every filmmaker who has directed Akshay—and many of them have made a career after working with the star-actor—to speak on his behalf. They all requested to be left out of the controversy.
Priyadarshan, who headed the National film award in 2017 when Akshay received the award for performance in Rustom was the only filmmaker who to respond to my query about whether foreign nationals are eligible for National film awards.
Writer Apurva Asrani took the culture of mob lynching on to another level and triggered off a fresh chain of trolling against Akshay Kumar by suggesting that perhaps Akshay was not eligible for Rustom, and maybe the National award for best actor should have gone to Manoj Bajpayee during that year for his performance in Aligarh.
Incidentally Asrani wrote Aligarh. I tried to contact several chairpersons and members of National awards jury from the past years to know whether a non-Indian citizenship disqualifies an actor from the National awards, no one bothered to respond.
Vani Tripathi Tikoo former General Secretary of the Bharatiya Janata Party clarified that Akshay Kumar’s National award for Rustom was indeed legitimate. Says Vani Tripathi Tikoo, “For individual National awards, foreign nationals are allowed.” So some other time, Apurva Asrani & Manoj Bajpayee?