In India, the National Film Awards are always considered as the highest benchmark when it comes to getting recognised for your performance. Unlike popular award ceremonies, there is no audience poll here, as a selected jury decides which movie, performance or technical aspects deserve the trophy, that too shorn of its box office prospects. In some cases, the movie wouldn't even have released in the theatres and yet they find themselves being awarded by the jury. National Film Awards 2019 Complete Winners List: Bollywood's Andhadhun, Padmaavat and Uri Win Big, KGF Bags Best Action.
Of course, it doesn't mean that the National Film award jury's decisions are always perfect or flawless. Most of the times, the head of the committee is accused of making partisan decisions favouring his or her friends, or the ruling government is alleged of interfering in the process. Which end up with the jury awarding the wrong candidate for the wrong film.
In this special feature, we look at 10 fine Bollywood actors who won National Awards for the wrong movies, as well as the films we believe they should have won National Awards for (or at, least winning for those movies made more sense).
Priyanka Chopra for Fashion
Priyanka Chopra in Fashion
There is no denying that PeeCee has done a really good job of a fashion model whose career trajectory goes haywire in Madhur Bhandarkar's problematic, cliche-ridden film. But not only is the film an ordinary one, Priyanka's performance is often overshadowed by Kangana Ranaut (who won the Best Supporting Actress award) and is not exactly one of her stronger performances.
What She Should Have Won For: Barfi!. Priyanka's act as the autistic possessive Jhilmil is definitely her career-best.
Saif Ali Khan for Hum Tum
Saif Ali Khan in Hum Tum
In one of the most dubious National Awards wins ever, Saif Ali Khan's shocking Best Actor win for this typical YRF romcom raised many eyebrows. It is not just that Shah Rukh Khan's much more superlative act in Swades was sidelined for this, but Saif's performance was not even noted at the Hindi awards. This lead to allegations that Saif got the award because his mother, Sharmila Tagore, was heading the Censor Board then.
What He Should Have Won For: The jury should have waited for a few more months and then giving him an award for his excellent antagonistic role of Langda Tyagi in Vishal Bharadwaj's Omkara. No one would have raised eyebrows then! We wouldn't also have minded if he had got one for his sublimely underrated performance in Being Cyrus.
Raveena Tandon for Daman
Raveena Tandon in Daman
The "Tip Tip Barsa Paani" diva won her National Award for her performance as a marital abuse survivor in Kalpana Lajmi's drama. While the subject in itself has 'award-bait' written all over it, Daman isn't exactly one of Lajmi's better films, while Raveena's performance is woefully inconsistent.
What She Should Have Won For: In Madhur Bhandarkar's underrated Satta, Raveena Tandon showed more poise, control and panache in her performance that deserved more accolades than it got.
Amitabh Bachchan for Agneepath/Paa/Piku
Amitabh Bachchan in Agneepath
Amitabh Bachchan won his first National Award for Best Actor at a time when he was contemplating retirement in the late '80s. But the film they chose to award him - the late Mukul Anand's Agneepath - has Big B at his hammiest, where his mannerisms and accent feel very fake (even if Agneepath is a cult movie). Similarly his performance in R Balki's Paa as a child suffering from Progeria is lost under the layers of prosthetics, while his act in Shoojit Sircar's more superlative Piku is hazy for the dodgy Bangla accent that he uses. Only his win for Black is something we can live by!
What He Should Have Won For: Oh, there are just so many better performances of Big B that should have tipped the jury in his favour but didn't... Saudagar, Deewar, Kaala Patthar, Alaap, et al. Even the controversial Nishabd and the underrated Khakee were better choices.
Nana Patekar for Krantiveer
Nana Patekar in Krantiveer
Krantiveer may have turned Nana Patekar into a superstar for a brief time in the '90s, with his bombastic speeches in the film still finding its fans in these times. But it is a very loud, theatrical performance from the actor that began to get him stuck in similar roles for some time. Though, we say that he deserve his National award wins (for Best Supporting Actor) for Parinda and Agnisakshi.
What He Should Have Won For: Go no beyond than Patekar's own directorial Prahaar, where he plays a no-nonsense army man who turns vigilante to avenger the killing of his mentee. It is a more contained performance from the actor, and a precursor to the bombasticism that we saw in Krantiveer. Also, let's not forget his amazing performance in Khamoshi: The Musical.
Vidya Balan for The Dirty Picture
Vidya Balan in The Dirty Picture
Playing an actress inspired by the late Silk Smitha, Vidya Balan oozes raw sexuality and sheds inhibitions for a role that is definitely one of her best. However, the writing for her character suffers from cliches and predictability that also bring down her performance. Vidya is still good, but her act is stuck in the contrived narrative.
What She Should Have Won For: Indubitably, Kahaani! The Sujoy Ghosh film has not only withstood the test of time, but also has Balan at her nuanced best. It is a performance that is deceiving in nature, and the actress makes it so convincing that we can't help but fall for the trap.
Sridevi for Mom
Sridevi in Mom
While Sridevi is great (as always) in this problematic revenge drama, her National award win for Best Actress feels more like a consolation prize conferred after her demise, as if the country finally realised that they were too late to reward this wonderful actress.
What She Should Have Won For: Two performances of hers that had better claim for a National award win were in Mahesh Bhatt's Gumrah and Gauri Shinde's English Vinglish.
Anil Kapoor for Pukar
Anil Kapoor in Pukar
Rajkumar Santoshi's terrorism thriller remains one of my favourite Anil Kapoor starrers (though it underperformed at the box office). Anil Kapoor is fantastic in the role... as he is in any other movie, but is it his career-best. While Anil is great, he is upstaged by a even better Madhuri Dixit in a more complex role
What He Should Have Won For: The late Yash Chopra's Lamhe has a very beautifully restrained performance from Kapoor that should have brought in the trophy.
Akshay Kumar for Rustom
Akshay Kumar in Rustom
Seriously, does even Akshay Kumar's die-hard fans consider Rustom as one of his best films in the past decade? Kumar's performance is mostly one-note (Deepak Dobriyal's similar performance in Shaurya fares better in comparison) and his win needles allegations that he got the award for his proximity towards the ruling government.
What He Should Have Won For: Akshay Kumar's portrayal in this Gulf War evacuation drama is far more performance-oriented and varied, and easily one of his better acts.
Vicky Kaushal for Uri: The Surgical Strike
Vicky Kaushal in Uri: The Surgical Strike
Uri: The Surgical Strike has been another favourite movie of the ruling government, and it expectedly got rewarded at the last-conducted ceremony, including a Best Actor for the talented Kaushal. But was it his best? He isn't bad as Major Vihaan Singh Shergill, but it isn't a performance that screams 'award-worthy'.
What He Should Have Won For: Vicky Kaushal is undoubtedly fantastic in his breakout performance in Neeraj Ghaywan's Masaan. His portrayal of a lower-caste boy in love with a girl beyond his social strata is simply one of the best performances by a Bollywood actor this century.
(The opinions expressed in the above article are of the author and do not reflect the stand or position of LatestLY.)