Actor Rajkumar Rao has been duly honoured with the Best Actor award at India’s prestigious National Film Awards for his acclaimed turn as Indian human rights activist Shahid Azmi in Hansal Mehta’s ‘Shahid’.
Rao, 29, moved audiences with his unrelenting performance as the Muslim lawyer who was best known for defending fellow Muslims charged under India’s draconian anti-terror laws and who was later murdered by Hindu extremists.
Rao – fast becoming one of the most respected young actors in the business after a string of critically acclaimed films such as ‘Love Sex Aur Dhoka’, ‘Gangs of Wasseypur 2’, ‘Chittagong’, ‘Kai Po Che’ and, more recently, the enormously entertaining ‘Queen’ – shared the Best Actor gong with Suraj Venjaramoodu, for his role as a municipality workers in Dr Biju’s harshly realistic Malayalam movie ‘Perariyathavar’.
Best Actress went to Geetanjali Thapa for her role as an impoverished woman who goes in search of her disappeared husband in Geetu Mohandas’ gritty debut feature ‘Liar’s Dice’ which was first screened at the Sundance Film Festival.
Thapa, a Sikkimese-Nepali actress, has appeared in ‘Monsoon Shootout’ as well as Anurag Kashyap’s short film about Eve Teasing ‘That Day After Every Day’.
Thapa will next be seen opposite Emraan Hashmi in ‘White Lies’ a film by Bosnian filmmaker Danis Tanovic who made the unforgettable Bosnian War drama ‘No Man’s Land’.
‘Ship of Theseus’ star Aida Elkashef shared the Best Supporting Actress award with Amruta Subhash for the Marathi film ‘Astu’.
The talented Saurabh Shukla won Best Supporting Actor for his turn as the no-nonsense judge in Arshad Warsi’s ‘Jolly LLB’, which honoured as the ‘Best Hindi Film’.
‘Shahid’, which was screened at the London Indian Film Festival 2013, won the other big award for 2014 with Hansal Mehta walking away with the Best Director accolade.
‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’ was named Best Popular film providing wholesome entertainment and Ganesh Acharya won Best Choreographer for his hit song ‘Maston Ka Jhund.’
Anand Gandhi’s acclaimed ‘Ship of Theseus’ was named best feature film while ‘Gulaabi Gang’ (the non-Madhuri Dixit starrer) won the award for Best Movie on Social Issues.