‘Dadasaheb’s name has become a shopping commodity’: His grandson Chandrashekhar Pusalkar slams award organisers

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Three years after it last held its awards function in 2014, the Dadasaheb Phalke Awards Academy, instituted by the Film Federation with 38 industry crafts affiliated to it, has now decided to return with an “authentic awards” function to be held on June 1. The idea is to convey loud and clear that they are the only credible Dadasaheb Phalke Awards apart from those presented by the Government.

According to Ganesh Jain, the Chairperson of the Academy, could not hold the awards for the past two years, due to “limitations” after which some other people misused the opportunity and installed several awards in the name of Phalke. “We have been told that these people float big names in the market and generate sponsors for the awards. They are definitely not for a social cause,” Jain clarified, adding that “the stars and the people who were accepting these awards are unaware about the fact that they were not the real awards.” That being said, it is learnt that the Academy will reportedly award Priyanka Chopra, Kapil Sharma and Juhi Chawla this year.

Sangram Shirke, the President of the Western India Film Producers Association, said it was his father, producer Gajanan Shirke, who was instrumental in launching the DP Academy Awards in 1998.

He says, “After my father expired in 1999, it was veteran producer, Ram Gopal Gupta, who founded the academy in 2000 in association with several veterans in the industry including Federation chief Chandrashekhar, Pahlaj Nihalani, Govind Swaroop and Santosh Singh Jain,” he shared.

“We also got on board some of the biggest stalwarts in the industry like Yash Chopra, BR Chopra and Shakti Samantha. We were keen on building awareness on Phalke, since only the Central Government had an award in his name which was only for one person and the Maharashtra Government was doing it for Marathi cinema, Shirke says.

According to him, with the rate at which Phalke awards are being held, the credibility of each of the awards has come under question, “There is the Dadasaheb Film Foundation Awards and one helmed by another person, who branched out from our academy and set up his own event company. It is okay if all the awards co-exist, but this has led to chaos. Also, there is talk that some of these awards can be easily brought. Besides, everyone wants an award and that’s how some of them get sponsors and big names to back them,” he said.

However it is Dadasaheb Phalke’s grandson, Chandrashekhar Pusalkar, son of his daughter, Mansi Phalke, who has the last word, “First of all, we feel sorry about the manner in which Dadasaheb Phalke’s name is being misused everywhere. Even when it concerns the Central Government awards, which are supposed to be the most credible awards, we haven’t been invited for a single award function in the past 46 years. They did not even bother to locate us. In that respect, the Dadasaheb Phalke Academy though it is a private academy, took the trouble of tracing us. They were also instrumental in renaming Film City as Dadasaheb Phalke Chitra Nagari.

According to him, there are several other awards that have come up in the past few years when the Academy did not hold awards, “There is a Foundation award besides a Dadasaheb Excellence awards and another award.

Initially, we welcomed them, but later learnt that all kinds of things were happening backstage like people purchasing awards. It is disappointing that Dadasaheb Phalke’s name has become like a marketing commodity, being used by people with an intention of commercial gains,” he says.

He recalls an incident ,which happened last year, when he was asked to hand over a Phalke award to a person, whose background was questionable, “I remember they got me to give an award to a man with a criminal background. I told them that I would not come there again. We would not like Phalke’s name to be tarnished,” he said.

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