Most of the awards ceremonies recognize lesser-known regional films such as Punjabi, Assamese, and Oriya films. The Second and Fourth National Film Awards programs (for 1954 and 1956 films) feature lists of all "Feature Films Approved for Public Exhibition" for that year and include the small regional industries! This is a great research and film/dance-discovery tool because it's difficult to find lists of all Assamese, Oriya, etc., films from those years online.
The programs also reflect the social and cultural mileu through the years. The First National Film Awards program opens with a quote from the Natyashatra about dramatic performance and then illustrates the "Film in India" section header with an adorable Manipuri dance sketch. The Second National Film Awards program includes in its Feature Films list a still of Sai-Subbulakshmi in Bharatanatyam costume in the song "Neeli Magan" from Malaikkalan. All of these inclusions make sense in the light of the time period (1950s) and the renewed interest in Indian dance and ancient culture. Indian arts/culture make an artistic appearance again in the covers of some of the 1970s programs, but after that there is little dance, art, or cultural iconography in programs from that point forward. Telling, perhaps?
A few more fun images from the programs:
|1959 Kathakali Documentary|
|L Vijayalakshmi in Sathya Harischandra (1965)|
|Padmini and Sivaji Ganesan in Deivaparavi (1960)|
|Padmini and Sivaji Ganesan, 1968|
|Kamal Hassan, Saagara Sangamam (1983)|
I'll end with my favorite find of the archives: a beautiful photo of Jayalakshmi Eswar's dance in Hamsageethe (Kannada, 1975):