Journalist Sanjay Suri has been awarded the National Film Award 2019 for his book “A Gandhian Affair: India's Curious Portrayal of Love in Cinema.” His book competed with 24 other nominations to win the award. The 67th National Film Awards for the year 2019 were announced on Monday.
Born in Jalandhar, Sanjay Suri has been a London-based journalist since 1990. He studied at Delhi University and the London School of Economics. He is the author of Brideless in Wembley, Naked Rain and Other Poems and 1984: The Anti-Sikh Violence and After.
Speaking to Asian Voice on this stupendous win, Suri said, “It's such a happy surprise to have been picked for this. I only knew when a colleague attending the event messaged me. So I wasn't exactly waiting. In fact the award was waiting to deliver itself that long and was delayed no doubt due to Covid. Having been picked for this, I feel most honoured. I do hope this may encourage more people to read the book, and to consider the argument it makes.”
In the synopsis of his book, he says, “how cinema was made within well-defined moral fences that were built with dos and don'ts about sex and money." This line is more relevant than ever today as we see the Indian streaming space being under the government’s surveillance for content. Sanjay said, “The book demonstrates through stories of the films themselves how heroism for two generations after Independence arose from a compulsive portrayal of the hero triumphing over temptations of both sex and money. In that triumph lies his heroism. The book demonstrates that together these values arose from popular notions of Gandhi who lived a life of simplicity and celibacy. Those morals were of course adapted into love stories into all sorts of ways. But they drive the plot, and they direct the course of the cinema.”
Sharing his thoughts on the sudden upsurge in relevance of our nation's former leaders like Gandhi, Bose, Tagore among others who still resonate with the public after so many years, Suri said, “History never just drops curtains to end anywhere. So many of the values associated with Gandhi, with Bose are still being discussed. Gandhi versus Nehru, Nehru vs Sardar Patel, consequences for the politics and the economy of India in their days spill over heavily into current disputes. Their overhang has never gone away. We fight over them, we don't forget them.”