Malayalam movie Kesu, which won the National Award for best children's film, was in for more controversy Friday with filmmaker and jury member Harikumar saying that he was responsible for director Sivan's film getting an award and alleging that it was a remake of his earlier work.
"In the final round of the children's film section, Sivan's film and a Kannada film (Putaani Party) were there. The general opinion of the jury was that since both these films did not merit an award, both need not be given," said Harikumar.
"Then one member said that both these films were produced by the Children's Film Society of India, who are the only supporters for such films. And if we don't give an award, then there would be no one to promote children's films.
"Then it was decided to give the award to the Kannada film. Then I said it would be good if Kesu was also given the award...that's how Sivan got the award," said Harikumar, who has been on the National Award jury three times now.
Sivan is the father of filmmakers Santosh and Sanjeev Sivan. The award for Kesu has also been criticised since Sanjeev Sivan was a member of the regional jury.
"Even though the rules do not prohibit a blood relation to be in the jury...Ethically I don't think it is right," said Harikumar.
Kesu has been in the news since its release last year because Harikumar claims it to be a remake of his 2001 film Pularvattom.
"Close to 90 percent of Kesu is the same as my film. I did my film by taking the rights from its author Mohanan who passed away a few years back. The characters and situations in Kesu are same as mine except for changes in the names of characters," Harikumar said.
"I was in mental turmoil for two days when this film was screened. Since it was a remake of my film, I decided not to bring up this issue in front of the jury as this film would have been disqualified," he added.
Sivan, however, told the media here that if his film had not won on merit and the recognition Kesu got was solely due to Harikumar, then how could one explain it winning the state award and being included in the Indian Panorama at the last International Film Festival of Kerala.
"I got the rights for the story way back in 1981 from Mohanan. These statements by Harikumar have to be seen as personal enmity. My son Sanjeev is a reputed filmmaker who has won international recognition and hence was on the jury," said Sivan.
Meanwhile, Majid Gulistan, whose film Chithrakuzhal failed to fetch any awards, plans to take the issue to court.
"It has come to a stage that merit does not count anymore. I am going to file a petition against the raw deal meted out to me and giving an award to Kesu, which is a remake. This is against the rules of National Awards guidelines," said Gulistan.
Gulistan and ace director Renjith had lashed out against the decision Thursday as well.