Rahul Khanna, elder son of Vinod Khanna, reacted to his late father winning the Dadasaheb Phalke awards, writing, “So proud to hear that my dad has been posthumously awarded India’s highest honour in cinema, the #DadasahebPhalkeAward at the #NationalFilmAwards! As we approach his first death anniversary, it’s such a lovely way to celebrate his life and work because, at his core, he wasn’t just an actor but also a lifelong film fan!”
Sridevi’s family too has warmly welcomed her posthumous National award win for Best Actress for Mom. The question arises: were the awards given out of a sense of sympathy at their passing away? Were their performances actually worthy of the honour? And finally, why were these two fine artistes pretty much ignored by the National awards during their respective lifetimes?
Sridevi had a string of wonderful performances to her credit. However, none won her the National honour that has come only after her death. Similarly, Vinod Khanna had won several popular awards during his lifetime but was never the recipient of a National award. Shekhar Kapur, jury head of the National Film Award, dwelled on this touchy issue when he said, “The best actress is Sridevi for Mom and I promise you it is not my relationship with her. Every morning when I came here, I would ask everyone to vote once again. I would look at all the actors, talk about them and I would say, ‘There should be not Sridevi, not Sridevi’! We used take a vote and it always came back to Sridevi. It was me who fought that it shouldn’t be Sridevi. We are all emotionally involved with Sridevi. I used to say, ‘Don’t give her an award because she died, it is unfair on the other girls. They have also worked hard for 10-12 years, they too have a career’.”
In life, death is considered the ultimate injustice. In most cases, death is seen as the unfair and premature end to a talented person’s life. An illustrious award is perhaps a token attempt to reduce that sense of injustice.