Toolsidas Junior director dedicates National Film Award win to late Rajiv Kapoor

Director Mridul Toolsidass’s film Toolsidas Junior bagged the best Hindi film award at the 68th National Film Awards on Friday. Backed by Ashutosh Gowariker, the sports film is based on the real life story of the director and revolves around the story of childhood with his father. It marked Rajiv Kapoor’s last onscreen appearance before his death. Reacting to the victory, Mridul dedicated the award to his late father and Rajiv Kapoor. (Also read: Toolsidas Junior director recalls he wanted his dad and Rajiv Kapoor to watch film together)

Mridul said in a statement, “I cannot imagine a greater tribute to both, my real and reel fathers, as we win this award today. Toolsidas Junior was my passion project to pay an ode to my father, which was played by Rajiv Kapoor on screen. Unfortunately, my father, as well as Rajiv sir, passed away before the release of the film, however, I am sure it was their blessings that have resulted in this victory today.”

Lead actor of Toolsidas Junior, Varun Buddhadev, earned the special mention from the jury for his performance as well. The film narrates the story of a snooker champion (Rajiv Kapoor), who succumbs to alcohol addiction and fails to win a trophy. Determined to shine his family name on the winner’s board once again, his son, Toolsidas Junior undertakes special coaching by former Indian champion (Sanjay Dutt) to bring back the trophy at the Snooker championship. The film is inspired by Mridul’s life story and Rajiv’s character is loosely based on his own father.

The film has been produced by Ashutosh Gowariker. The win came more than two decades after his first National Award for his directorial Lagaan, another sports drama. Celebrating the occasion, he said, “It is a great honour to be bestowed with the coveted award again. What makes it even more special is that Toolsidas Junior has been my first ever production venture. We at AGPPL, took the plunge to create a platform for young and talented directors to tell their stories, and I am extremely overjoyed to witness such fruits of our efforts. Sports genre has always been dear to my heart, after Lagaan, now Toolsidas has won me the highest honour for yet another sports drama.”

The film was backed by Bhushan Kumar, Krishan Kumar, Ashutosh Gowariker and Sunita Gowariker. It was streamed on Netflix in March 2022 after a TV premiere on Sony Max two days prior.

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