Cinema must help build the moral compass of the nation and portray positive societal values; Pranab Mukherjee

NEW DELHI: President Pranab Mukherjee has said that cinema must be used to portray positive societal values for building a tolerant and harmonious India.

Referring to recent criminal events involving women and children, he said the role of the film industry was very crucial in building the moral compass of the nation. He said the film industry ought to take steps to ensure that cinema was morally energising.

Mukherjee was speaking after he conferred the National Film awards for the year 2012 in various categories at the 60th National Film Awards Function held at the Vigyan Bhawan. The award ceremony coincided with the release of the first Indian feature ‘Raja Harishchandra‘ by the father of Indian cinema D G Phalke on 3 May.

He lauded the initiatives taken by the information and broadcasting ministry including single window clearance for shooting the films in India.

Lauding the recipient of the highest award in cinema, the Dadasaheb Phalke award, he said actor Pran had commenced in films as a hero in 1940 but then moved on to become the ‘quintessential gentleman villain‘.

There was standing ovation as the name of the 93-year old Pran Sikand, who could not attend because of illness, was announced.

I&B minister Manish Tewari said the presence of films with innovative themes at the 60th NFA had proved that the Indian film industry was playing a proactive role in articulating issues and prejudices that had been historically embedded in our society.

Indian cinema, Tewari added, had been the mirror of the nation‘s milieu and had an incisive influence on the evaluation of society. Internationally, Indian cinema had evolved to cater to the taste of international audiences. A unifying synthesis, Indian films had been able to institutionalise and project India‘s soft power outside the country. The film industry, he said, had grown despite and in spite of the government.

He announced that the government had decided to institute an annual centenary award from this year to be given to a personality or institution recognising a paradigm transformation in film making and honouring individuals or films that had profoundly influenced contemporary, socio cultural evolution.

He also announced that the Films Division Auditorium in Delhi was being re-furbished to convert it into a hub for alternate cinema. The Auditorium which was being used for screenings only on special occasions would be modelled along the lines of Prithvi Theatre in Mumbai to not just screen documentaries, small budget films but also provide a forum for film makers and connoisseurs to discuss the film making.

He referred to the justice Mudgal Committee which was taking a fresh look of the Cinematographic Act 1952, and the Committee would aim to find a golden mean between creative essence and aesthetic sensitivity.

The highlight of the evening was the release of postal stamps of 50 iconic personalities of Indian cinema by the President to commemorate the century long journey of Indian cinema. The film personalities depicted in stamps include Ashok Kumar, Bhalji Pendharkar, Durga Khote, Dev Annad, Yash Chopra, Smita Patil, Rajesh Khanna, Shammi Kapoor, Suraiya, Geeta Dutt, Sohrab Modi, Tapan Sinha, C.V. Sridhar and Bhanumathi.

Speaking on the occasion, communication and information technology minister Kapil Sibal said the Department of Posts had given a fitting tribute to the powerful medium by issuing 50 new stamps.

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