NEW DELHI: Describing cinema as India's soft power, President Pratibha Patil on Wednesday said that more needed to be done to create social change through films.
Speaking at the 55th National Film Awards for 2007, Patil said, "Cinema should not only be a source of popular entertainment for families and individuals, but also a vehicle of social change.''
The President also awarded the Dadasaheb Phalke award to legendary singer Manna Dey. Expressing his happiness at the award, Dey said, "I am overwhelmed. It feels absolutely great.''
I&B minister Ambika Soni said that in an effort to make the awards more contemporary and focussed a panel of eminent experts would soon be constituted to advise the government. She said that the National Film Awards needed to reflect newer developments that were happening in the field of cinema. "There is a need to re-invent the National Film Awards to make it more contemporary,'' she acknowledged.
The awardees who were present to receive the award included director Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Priyadarshan, director of `Kanchivaram', the Tamil film which won the best direction award, Shefali Shah, given the award for the best supporting actress for her role in `The Last Lear', and child artiste Sharad Goyekar amongst others.
Actor Aamir Khan, Anil Kapoor and director Aditya Chopra gave the awards a miss.