On Friday afternoon, Akshay Kumar won the National Award for Best Actor. This statement doesn’t sound as earth-shattering as it would have back in the nineties, since Kumar has, over the years, become a reliably solid actor. He has disarmingly fine comic timing, can hold his own against most dramatic actors, and possesses the screen presence of a proper superstar.
However, Rustom – for which he was given the award – is a disaster, a sloppy mess made out of a sensational real life case, where Kumar’s role largely consisted of looking stiff in what turned out to be a tremendously inaccurate Navy uniform. Kumar doesn’t perform badly, but giving him an award for this mess is like giving Virat Kohli a man of the match trophy for a Manyawar commercial.
Congratulations, then, Mr Kumar. And who better to give it out? Priyadarshan must clearly be personally impressed by Kumar’s work on the sets, having directed him dozens of times over the years, watching him ‘surviving’ from up close. In what can generously be referred to as a coincidence, another Priyadarshan regular, the legendary Mohanlal, was rewarded with a Special Jury Award for his performances in three films – Munthitivallikai Thalirkkumbol, Janatha Garage, Pulimurugan – films which have been largely dismissed by critics.