India's National Film Awards were announced Friday, which saw Fox Star Studios' Neerja winning for best Hindi language title. The government's annual awards, now in their 64th year, celebrate the best of Indian cinema across various languages. This year, Marathi-language titles picked up major honors with Kasaav winning for best feature film, while the best director prize went to Rajesh Mapuskar for Ventilator, which was produced by top Bollywood actress and Hollywood cross-over star Priyanka Chopra (Quantico).
Real-life hijacking drama Neerja also saw its lead actress Sonam Kapoor receive a special mention for her portrayal of air hostess Neerja Bhanot, who sacrificed her life to save the lives of passengers and crew of a PanAm flight hijacked in 1986 in Karachi, Pakistan. Directed by Ram Madhvani, the film was co-produced by Atul Kasbekar via his Bling Unplugged banner.
In a statement, Fox Star Studios India CEO Vijay Singh said that the recognition "gives us further confidence to back great stories and push the envelope on content."
Best actor honors went to Akshay Kumar for Hindi film Rustom, while Surabhi C.M. was named best actress for her role in the Malayalam-language title Minnaminungu - The Firefly.
The special jury award in the non-feature category was given to acclaimed documentary The Cinema Travellers, which has won various international accolades, including the Le prix du documentaire special jury prize at Cannes last year.
Mukti Bhavan (Hotel Salvation), which saw director Shubhashish Bhutiani receive the UNESCO Award for peace and human rights at Venice last year, was also honored with a special mention, as was the film's lead, Adil Hussain (Life of Pi), for his performance as an overworked son who is forced to set his job aside and accompany his elderly father on a death trip to the holy city of Varanasi.
The prize for best film on social issues was awarded to Hindi title Pink, while another Hindi title, Nagesh Kukunoor's Dhanak, was tapped as best children's film.
The Indira Gandhi Award for best debut film went to Deep Choudhury for his Bengali pic Alifa.
The National Film Awards will be presented by India President Pranab Mukherjee at a special ceremony May 3 in New Delhi.