Avinash Lohana & Natasha Coutinho (MUMBAI MIRROR; April 8, 2017)

SPECIAL MENTION: Sonam Kapoor (Neerja)
I wasn’t expecting this but I couldn’t be happier because this is the most prestigious award and so that much more special. The best way to celebrate is by working. I’m in Maheshwar shooting with Akshay for Padman. The climax of Neerja was also shot in Maheshwar.

“I’m overwhelmed! I recall approaching a famous director and being turned down. After that I reached out to Ram Madhvani, who I’ve known for years. We set out to make an honest film, without giving in to pressure. The award means the world to us. Ab party to banti hai.” - Producer Atul Kasbekar

“We began the journey win an award at the 65th Berlin International Film Festival but nothing compares to this! I’m thinking what I’ll wear to the Rashtrapati Bhavan.” – Producer Elahe Hiptoola

“It’s immensely satisfying when what you want to do is recognised with a National Award, the most prestigious of all honours. Pink was an important film for me. I give my wife, Jhuma, credit for giving me the idea. Her observation based on an article in a newspaper pointed me towards a woman’s ordeals in similar situations. Cinema doesn’t change society, it affect us momentarily. Pink, I think, has created some consciousness. It wouldn’t have been possible without Mr Bachchan (Amitabh). He came forward not just as an actor but to support a story about three girls. It would have been sone pe suhaaga if he’d bagged the Best Actor Award. ”– Producer Shoojit Sircar

BEST DIRECTION: Rajesh Mapuskar (Ventilator)
When I learnt I’d won the Golden Lotus, I called Raju (Rajkumar Hirani who he’s assisted) and he was thrilled. Vidhu Vinod Chopra who was driving to Pune called to congratulate. Ventilator will be screened at the New York Indian Film Festival on May 4. I’ll attend the National Award ceremony in Delhi on May 3 and catch the night flight.

BEST EDITING: Rameshwar Bhagat (Ventilator, Produced by Priyanka Chopra)
Ventilator is a special film for Rajesh (director Rajesh Mapuskar) as the story is associated with his life. Shooting chunks of it in the hospital was challenging as we couldn’t move around much. But we were committed to making a good film and the award proves it’s all about good work.

Whenever Rajesh Mapuskar and I have collaborated in the past, we have focussed on every small detail. The entire album has been appreciated, including “Baba”. The minute I heard it I could tell it had the right emotion. Priyanka (Chopra) sung it brilliantly.

BEST VFX: Naveen Paul (Shivaay)
I was in a meeting when the awards were announced and kept wondering why I was getting so many calls all together. It was unexpected but we can’t ask for more. We shot in minus 25 degrees at night in Bulgaria for 70 days! The happiness on producer-actor Ajay Devgn’s face proved we’d realised his vision.

“It’s encouraging to receive an award of this stature for my debut film. It has got me more excited to work harder.”

BEST ANIMATION: Mahayoddha Rama
“It took us seven years to make this film. So many people were behind it, some like composer Aadesh Shrivastava and Sadashiv Amrapurkar who gave the voiceover are no more. It was a challenge to condense the epic in an hour and a half. We had 10 voices for Ravan’s 10 heads. It’s a unique film.” – Abhimanyu Singh, CEO, Contiloe Pictures (Producer)

SPECIAL MENTION: Adil Hussain (Mukti Bhawan and Maj Rati Keteki)
I am extremely inspired by the special mentions, deeply honoured as well, to be a part of the very special film, Mukti Bhawan.

We are ecstatic. Adil (Hussain, actor) didn’t even read the script. He said “yes” within 10 minutes of meeting the director. He was at the San Francisco Film Festival where the film had its North America premiere. Now, he’s in LA where it’s the closing film; we’re hoping we’ll win there too. It opened in India on Friday. We’ve asked Shubhashish (Bhutiani, director) to sponsor a party. I’ve spent all my money making it. ” – Sanjay Bhutiani, Producer
Akshay Kumar tweeted, “Best Actor for Rustom,countless emotions,very hard to express my gratitude right now but still tried, a big THANK YOU (sic)”.