The National Film Award for Best Screenplay is one of the categories in the National Film Awards presented annually by the Directorate of Film Festivals, the organisation set up by Ministry of Information and Broadcasting in India. It is one of several awards presented for feature films and awarded with Rajat Kamal (Silver Lotus). The award is announced for films produced in a year across the country, in all Indian languages. As of 2016, the award comprises a Rajat Kamal, a certificate, and a cash prize of ₹ 50,000.The National Film Awards were established in 1954 to "encourage production of the films of a high aesthetic and technical standard and educational and culture value" and also planned to include awards for regional films. The awards were instituted as the "State Awards for Films" but were renamed to "National Film Awards" at the 15th National Film Awards in 1967 and a new category of award for Best Screenplay was introduced, presented with a plaque and a cash prize. At the 57th National Film Awards in 2009, the Screenplay award was reclassified into three different awards: Screenplay Writer (Original), Screenplay Writer (Adapted), and Dialogues. Although the Indian film industry produces films in around twenty languages and dialects, as of 2016, the seventy-three unique writers have been awarded those who have worked in nine major languages: Hindi (twenty awards), Malayalam (twelve awards), Bengali (eleven awards), Marathi (seven awards), Tamil (six awards), Kannada (five awards), English (two awards), Sanskrit and Assamese (one award each).
The inaugural award, in 1967, of this category was presented to S. L. Puram Sadanandan for the Malayalam film Agniputhri. No award was presented at the 23rd National Film Awards (1975). As of 2016, Malayalam author and screenplay writer M. T. Vasudevan Nair holds the record of winning maximum awards in category with four wins for the films: Oru Vadakkan Veeragadha (1989), Kadavu (1991), Sadayam (1992), and Parinayam (1994). Bengali filmmaker Satyajit Ray was presented the award in 1993 posthumously for the film Uttoran; he had earlier received awards for Pratidwandi (1970) and Sonar Kella (1974). At the 59th National Film Awards in 2011, Girish Kulkarni awarded the National Film Award for Best Actor and the Best Dialogue for the Marathi film Deool. The film was itself adjudged as the National Film Award for Best Feature Film. In 2015 at the 63rd ceremony, Screenplay Writer (Original) as well as Dialogue was jointly awarded to Juhi Chaturvedi and Himanshu Sharma for their films Piku and Tanu Weds Manu: Returns, respectively.As of 2019, sixty-five awards have been presented for Original Screenplay writing, thirteen for Adapted Screenplay writing, and eleven for dialogue. The most recent recipients of the awards are Rahul Ravindran (Screenplay Writer (Original) for Telugu film Chi La Sow), Sriram Raghavan, Arijit Biswas, Yogesh Chandekar, Hemanth Rao, Pooja Ladha Surti (Screenplay Writer (Adapted) for Hindi film Andhadhun) , and Churni Ganguly (Dialogue for Bengali film Tarikh) who were honoured at the 66th National Film Awards.
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