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Awards haul for reel duo

Ranchi, May 19: It’s a cause for double delight for Biju Toppo and Meghnath Bhattacharya, the filmmaker duo based in the capital.

Two of their short films, Ek Ropa Dhan and Iron Is Hot, won the Rajat Kamal at the 58th National Film Awards announced today in New Delhi.

The awards, given by Union information and broadcasting ministry, comprise medals and a cash award of Rs 50,000 each, informed Press Information Bureau in a release issued this afternoon.

A jury headed by National Award-winning director A.K. Bir judged these films in the non-feature film category. Before announcing the awards, jury members met Ambika Soni, the Union information and broadcasting minister, and handed her over the list of awardees, the release added.

Ek Ropa Dhan is a Hindi documentary on systematic rice intensification, a progressive paddy farming method introduced by a priest, Father Henri de Laulanie, in Madagascar, around 25 years ago. It helps grow paddy with one-third of water needed in the conventional system, a boon for dry areas, said Meghnath. “A succinct and well-researched film that looks closely at an innovation in the farming of rice,” the jury said.

Iron Is Hot, on the other hand, showed how people struggle to survive in India’s sponge iron belt. “The sponge iron industry can cause serious health hazards,” said Meghnath.

“The film is a forthright exposition of the grievous impact of pollution due to sponge iron industry,” the jury said.

“It is nice to get national recognition,” beamed Biju Toppo, also a cinematographer.

Meghnath, on a pragmatic note, added: “It is more important to spread the message. Our films have been screened by universities in Germany and Denmark, but Ranchi University didn’t bother.”

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