There has been lot of press about “Bahubali” being the first Telugu film to bag the National Award for Best Film. Infact, it bagged another Award for Best Special Effects. That takes its national award tally to two. But is it the greatest Telugu film ever as the press is agog with?
Not true, if you look at the total National Awards Tally for “Sankarabharanam”. The 1980 classic film by K.Viswanath bagged not one but four National Awards that year. Best Feature Film in the category of Popular and Wholesome Entertainment, Best Music (K.V.Mahadevan), Best Male Playback Singer (S.P.Balasubramanyam) and Best Female Playback Singer (Vani Jayram). That seals it in favour of “Sankarabharanam” which bagged four National Awards (Swarna Kamal) as against two National Awards for “Bahubali”.
For the record-lovers, here are more facts. In the year that “Sankarabharanam” bagged the National Award for Wholesome Entertainment, the Best Film Category Award went to “Shodh”, a Hindi film directed by Sitakant Mishra. Incidentally, the Best Feature Film in Telugu that year went to an off-beat film directed by U.Visweswar Rao (“Nagna Satyam”).
That settles the verdict. Yes, “Bahubali” bagged National Award for Best Film in the Pure Category. But the Awards tally leaves a lot to be desired, compared with the fact that “BajiRao Mastani” bagged as many as six National Awards including Best Direction etc. It remains to be seen whether any other Telugu Film comes closer to beating “Sankarabharanam” which bagged four National Awards. But for now, “Bahubali” team can pat itself. Another interesting coincidence to note is that 1980 and 2016 are the only two years that saw Tollywood get recognition for two Telugu films (“Sankarabharanam” and “Nagna Satyam” in 1980 and “Bahubali” and “Kanche” in 2016). Tollywood gets “pure” recognition after so many years!