chennai l tuesday l March 23, 2021 l `7.00 l PAGES 16 l vellore EDITION kangana Ranaut dhanush manoj bajpayee navin nooli Rich pickings for southern cinema at National Film Awards E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e T he 67th National Awards for films that were submitted in 2019, were announced on Monday, following a year’s delay owing to the coronavirus pandemic. It was a huge haul for South Indian cinema in all the major categories, with more than 15 films from the region being recognised in the awards. While Malayalam cinema led the pack with seven wins, Tamil cinema followed closely with six, Telugu with three, and Kannada with one. The Malayalam epic, Marakkar: Arabikadalinte Simham (Malayalam), that is awaiting its release, and the Telugu action drama, Maharshi, won the big two awards: Best Film and Best Popular Film, with the latter also winning for Raju Sundar- am his second National Award for Best Choreography Jersey, . which was awarded the Best Telugu Film, also bagged the Best Editor award for Naveen Nooli. The film is a heart-rending take on the life of a failed cricketer who yearns to retain the respect of his son. In the acting categories, D h a nu s h ’s t u r n i n Ve trimaaran’s Asuran, as an op- pressed elderly man, fighting for his family in a caste-afflicted society won him his second , National Award for Best Actor (following his first for Aadukalam by the same director). This is an award he will share with Manoj Bajpayee (Bhonsle), who has won a National Award for the third time in his career, with both of his previous wins coming for a supporting act. Bajpayee’s masterful performance in Devashish Makhija’s bitingly political film, stands testament to the adage that less is more. Vijay Sethupathi won his first National Award for Super Deluxe for his supporting act as a helpless transgender woman called Shilpa, who grapples with humiliation and guilt. It was a first for Tamil composer Imman, too, as he won the Best Music Director award for his wo rk i n A j i t h - s t a r re r Viswasam. Naga Vishal was bestowed the Best Child Actor award for his performance in the Tamil drama, K D Karuppu Durai. While Marakkar also won awards for Special Effects (Siddharth Priyadarshan) and Costumes (Sujith Sudhakaran and V Sai), Mathukutty Xavier’s debut directorial, Helen, bagged two awards: Best Film by a Debutant and Best Makeup (Ranjith). Meanwhile, Kannada filmmaker Vikram Mor won the National award for Best Action Direction for the fantasy-adventure, Avane Srimannarayana. For the first time after 2000, a Malayalam film has won the award for Best Lyricist (Prabha Varma for Kolaambi). The visually breathtaking Jallikattu, India’s official nomination to the Oscars, won a National Award for its cinematographer Gireesh Gangadharan. Continued on: P7 CHENNAI ■ MADURAI ■ VIJAYAWADA ■ BENGALURU ■ KOCHI ■ HYDERABAD ■ VISAKHAPATNAM ■ COIMBATORE ■ KOZHIKODE ■ THIRUVANANTHAPURAM ■ BELAGAVI ■ BHUBANESWAR ■ SHIVAMOgGA ■ MANGALURU ■ TIRUPATI ■ TIRUCHY ■ TIRUNELVELI ■ SAMBALPUR ■ HUBBALLI ■ DHARMAPURI ■ KOTTAYAM ■ KANNUR ■ VILLUPURAM ■ KOLLAM ■ WARANGAL ■ TADEPALLIGUDEM ■ NAGAPATTINAM ■ THRISSUR ■ KALABURAGI Sharad Pawar Anil Deshmukh Pawar poser on timeline to back minister E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @ Mumbai A day after NCP chief Sharad Pawar said former Mumbai Police commissioner Parambir Singh’s allegations of extortion against state home minister Anil Deshmukh were serious, he sought to question the timeline mentioned in Singh’s recent ‘letter bomb’ while stoutly defending his minister. While Singh letter says the now arrested assistant inspector Sachin Waze was called by Deshmukh to his official residence “in and around mid-February and thereafter” to instruct him on extorting `100 crore per month, Pawar argued it was incorrect as the minister was hospitalised from February 5 to 15 after testing positive for Covid-19. “After discharge, Deshmukh was in home quarantine for the next 10 days in Nagpur. There is no way Waze could have met him in Mumbai then,” Pawar said. Though the Opposition sought to puncture the argument, claiming Deshmukh had addressed the press on February 15, the latter quickly clarified that he had just returned home from hospital and taken a few quick questions that day . Pawar said the focus should be actually be on the bomb scare at Antilia. The ATS on Sunday had claimed to have made a big breakthrough in Thane-based businessman Mansukh Hiren’s murder with the arrest of two persons, including a former policeman. The ATS on Monday arrested a Gujarat man for providing 14 SIM cards to the two accused. Parambir Singh moved the Supreme Court on Monday, seeking a CBI probe into “malpractices” of Deshmukh and challenged his transfer order by the state government. Second Covishield shot in 6-8 weeks better: Centre S u m i S u k a n ya D u t ta @ New Delhi If you are waiting for your second jab of the Covid-19 vaccine Covishield, you’ll be better protected if you take it between the sixth and eighth weeks of the first shot, and not after four-six weeks as is the practice now. That has been the international consensus, and expert panels back home have now aligned themselves with that view. Based on the recommendations of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization and subsequently by National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for Covid19 vaccine, the Centre on Mon- day directed all states to increase the interval between two doses of Covishield. In fact, scientific evidence from some countries shows that while the vaccine is about 60-65% effective at a gap of four weeks, it can be up to 90% effective against infection when administered at an interval of 12 weeks. But India’s expert panels chose a more conservative gap of eight weeks. The directions by the Centre apply immediately, which means all beneficiaries who have taken the first dose but are due for the second, ought to follow the new advisory . Since the launch of the Covid-19 vaccination drive on January 16, the Covishield devel- oped by AstraZeneca-Oxford University and manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, has been its mainstay For, . nearly 90% of the vaccine doses administered so far are of Covishield. Based on evidence from several countries, the WHO had in early February said that the two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine should be given at a gap of 8-12 weeks. Incidentally , AstraZeneca’s large-scale clinical trial in the US showed that the jab is 79% effective against asymptomatic infection and 100% against severe disease. The Centre’s advisory does not apply to Covaxin, the vaccine developed by Hyderabadbased Bharat Biotech. fuel tax mop up 45% more in 10 months than full fy20 J o n at h a n An a nd a @ New Delhi If there were any doubts left over whether fuel taxes have become the government’s prized cash cow, the finance ministry’s reply to the Lok Sabha on Monday serves to quash most of them. Not only have excise duty collections on petrol, diesel, and natural gas surged, the share of such taxes in India’s gross tax revenue has spiked sharply over the years too, indicating a steadily increasing dependence on fuel tax revenues. According to figures submitted to the Lok Sabha by the finance ministry, excise duty collections from fuel and natural gas in the first 10 months of this financial year (FY21) are already 45% higher than collections recorded during the whole of FY20. Between April 2020 and Janu- ary 2021, this figure stood at `2.94 lakh crore against just `2,03,010 lakh crore in FY20. Collections made in the first 10 months of this fiscal year are also over five times (456%) larger than the `53,090 crore recorded in FY14. The surge in excise collections, accompanied by a lower, but still significant increase in state VAT, are the primary reason why retail fuel prices have remained stubbornly high even though Brent crude prices have gone from $114 per barrel in June 2014 to $64 per bar rel currently . While prices have swung between as high as $90 and as low as $16 during this period, they have averaged around $50-60 per barrel. But the majority of the gains from this decline has been siphoned off to the exchequer. Centre levy is 39% of retail price On June 7, 2014, petrol and diesel prices were `71.51 and `57.28 per litre respectively. While crude prices fell, the Central and state governments kept hiking taxes. Currently, central and state taxes make up around 60% of the retail price of petrol and 53% of diesel in Delhi . Around 39% of the retail price comprises central excise duties alone Team MNM candidate joins DMK The BJP’s manifesto for the Tamil Nadu Assembly elections, which was released on Monday, seems directed at SC/ST communities, farmers and fishermen. Among other things, it promises to free Hindu temples from government control, and enact anti-conversion and anti-cow slaughter Acts | P4 D Muralikrishnan, the MNM-led alliance candidate for Lalgudi constituency, withdrew his nomination papers and joined the DMK on Monday. He said he did it so that a “good government will come to power”. Muralikrishnan was a functionary of the Samathuva Makkal Katchi | P2 ‘Flag’ging trouble HC shows why hyper-nationalism takes the cake HARISH MURALI @ Chennai Cutting a cake depicting the national flag is not unpatriotic or insulting, and a “wayfarer” shouldn’t expose people to criminal proceedings for such innocuous acts, the Madras High Court ruled on Monday A . single-member bench of Justice N Anand Venkatesh passed these directions and quashed the criminal proceedings initiated by a trial court in an incident dating back to 2013. During a Christmas event that year, a 6x5 ft cake — with icing representing the Tricolour, an outline of the Indian map, and the Ashoka Chakra at the centre — was cut and distributed to about 2,500 people. The Coimbatore District Collector and a DCP also took part in the celebration. Following this, one D Senthilkumar, of the Hindu Public Party filed a complaint alleging that , cutting the cake was an offence under Section 2 of the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971. The State challenged the criminal proceedings initiated by the trial court magistrate, and said there were procedural irregularities in the his direction to register an FIR. Justice Anand Venkatesh, in his order, emphasised that nationalism is vital. “But hyper and surfeit adherence to it goes against the prosperity of our nation... The symbolisation of national pride is not synonymous with patriotism, just like how cutting a cake is not unpatriotic.” He also quoted Rabindranath Tagore: “Patriotism cannot be our final spiritual shelter; my refuge is humanity I will not . buy glass for the price of diamonds, and I will never allow patriotism to triumph over humanity as long as I live.” P5 ‘What about all other flags?’ The HC cited how at Independence Day or Republic Day events, participants are given a national flag to wear. But after the event, “it becomes part of any other waste paper”. “Will this mean that each of the participants has insulted the national flag?” risk in the State, and every day , at least five are being reported As Tamil Nadu recorded 1,385 from districts such as Chennai, new Covid cases on Monday, a Coimbatore, Chengalpattu, fresh sense of panic gripped Tiruvallur and Tiruppur, employees of a medical tran- Health Secretary J Radscription company in hakrishnan said. Colleges Chennai, where 40 staff In Thanjavur district, back online 201 people, including have tested positive. At first, two people The State govt students and staff of 11 were found to be infectschools and four colleghas ordered ed, and further testing es, have tested positive. colleges to revealed 31 cases in the return to online Such outbreaks have firm’s Kandanchavadi teaching from highlighted the need branch. “We then testfor safety protocols to Tuesday, but ed employees at their be followed strictly. permitted second branch, in Ta“People must have the practical ramani, and seven samsame seriousness as classes and ples returned positive,” they did when the first exams till said a corporation officluster was reported. March 31 cial, adding that both Masks are not worn as offices have been shut. much as before, and physical Thankfully, most infectees distancing has gone for a toss,” are asymptomatic, the official a Chennai corporation official said, adding that the rest of the observed. staff are now being tested. (With inputs from Thanjavur) Such Covid clusters pose a Random testing begins: P5 KV N av ya @ Chennai Accepts recommendations of expert panels who align themselves with the global view that delaying the shot has beneficial outcome BJP promises cow-slaughter ban 14 DAyS TO GO 40 staff of private firm in Chennai test positive Up, up and up 46,951 on Monday Fresh cases 30,535 Logged by Maharashtra, followed by Punjab (2,644) 1,16,46,081 1.11 crore Recovered so far 1,59,967 Total deaths 212 deaths recorded in 24 hrs Country’s tally
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