Akshay Kumar whom the popular awards have eluded for years, is now the proud recipient of the National award for two of his back-to-back performances in 2016 in Airlift and Rustom. Strangely the list of winners declares Akshay as the winner of Rustom only. This left a lot of Akshay’s friends and collaborators confused.
Raja Krishna Menon who has directed Akshay Kumar in Airlift said, “I thought he won for Rustom. If he has won for Airlift as well, then I am over the moon. Akshay definitely deserves the award. He’s worked hard all these years and delivered some really great performances and I believe in Airlift he really pushed the boundaries to reach a place that very few actors reach.”
The National award jury’s ‘helmer’ Priyadarshan makes it clear that Akshay has been awarded for the two films. “Akshay has won the Best Actor award for both Airlift and Rustom…For technical reasons only Rustom is mentioned in the list of awardees. But he has given contrasting and extremely sensitive performances in both Airlift and Rustom, and we thought it was only fair to honour him for both,” says filmmaker Priyadarshan, a long term admirer of Akshay’s work – they’ve collaborated on many comedies from Hera Pheri to Khatta Meetha.
Priyan says he was very impressed by the films in two languages this year. “The Bengali and Marathi films submitted to us were truly outstanding. I’d say these two regions led the awards race. There was unanimity about giving the best feature film award to the Marathi film Kaasav and the best director to Rajesh Mapuskar for the Marathi film Ventilator. The Marathi and Bengali films were ahead of all the other languages. The only competition they had, came from Malayalam cinema,” says Priyan whose very close collaborator and friend Mohanlal won the Special Jury Award for Pulimurugan, Janatha Garage and Munthirivallikal Thalirkkumbol.”