Weren't you aware before the jury was announced that Aks was in the competition?
And the Directorate?
Aks' producer hadn't included my name in his application, so even the Directorate didn't know I was involved.
But yours was a very minor role.
Yes, a one-minute guest appearance. But the point is that it's important to set a good precedent. In the past, I have accused the film awards of improprieties like people involved in the films that were in contention being part of the jury.
Will the awards be now free of controversies?
I do see some positive signs.
Unlike the past, the names of the jury members were announced this time. If anybody has got any objections now, they can voice their protest.
But you'd protest even before.
Yes. I used to do some spade work and find the names of the jury myself.
Won't it encourage lobbying?
This horse-trading used to happen even earlier. So it's better to have an open system. That's at least a good start.
Are you happy with the jury now?
Yes. You cannot fault even one of them. They are all eminent film people.
What was the reaction to your decision?
The members not only understood but also appreciated my decision. In fact, writer Ali Raza, on behalf of all the members, came and hugged me. I was deeply touched.
Have the national film awards lost their shine over the years?
I don't agree. They are given by the President of India, and remain the biggest honour for a film artiste.