National Award Controversies: The unexpected wins of Saif, Raveena, Anil raised eyebrows


Controversies are no stranger to the National Awards. The nation’s premier awards have seen their fair share of debate and dispute since they were established in 1954. Every year, a national panel appointed by the government selects the winning entry, and the award ceremony is held in New Delhi, where the President of India presents the awards.

Due to the national scale of the National Film Awards, it is considered the Indian equivalent of the American Academy Awards. Naturally, the related controversies are also proportionately big!

Here’s reliving some of the times the National awards made headlines for all the wrong reasons…

When Kirron Kher won for Best Actress in 2000 for her role in the Bengali film Bariwali, it created a furore as her voice had been dubbed by a Bengali actress… A fact that the producers conveniently forgot to mention!

Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Black was adjudged Best Film in 2006. However, all the jury members were not in agreement of its win. One jury member even went to court, alleging that the awards were fixed and Black did not even qualify as it was adapted from an English film.


Akshay Kumar was pleased as punch to be honoured with the Best Actor award for Rustom in 2017. However, many did not share his sentiment, believing that there were other far superior performances to his that year.

There was a clash of interests in 2003 as Prakash Jha, who was directing Ajay Devgn in Gangaajal, also happened to be heading the jury at the National awards. Devgn winning Best Actor for The Legend of Bhagat Singh had renowned filmmaker Adoor Gopalakrishnan up in arms against the decision.

Another similar situation when Saif Ali Khan won Best Actor in 2005, despite the superior performances of other actors. The win came conveniently when his mother Sharmila Tagore happened to be the chief of the Censor Board.

The wins of Raveena Tandon (Daman) and Anil Kapoor (Pukar) were contested by the jury members themselves in 2001. Some even resigned in protest, alleging corruption in the system.

Arjun Rampal’s win for Best Supporting Actor for Rock On!! in 2009 raised many eyebrows. Most felt the honour belonged to Paresh Rawal, who had delivered amazing performances in both Mumbai Meri Jaan and Oye Lucky Lucky Oye.

Rock On!! raised eyebrows higher when it won Best Hindi Film beating back far superior films like A Wednesday, Jodhaa Akbar, Aamir, Jaane Tu... Ya Jaane Na and Mumbai Meri Jaan