50 awardees boycott 65th National Film Awards ceremony

President Ram Nath Kovind and Smriti Irani

Filmmaker Rahul Dholakia, whose film Parzania (2007) bagged a couple of National Awards, was critical of the president's decision. If many among the awardees took this as an affront, it was not unnatural.

Among those who received the award and citation from Kovind were Boney Kapoor and his daughters on behalf of the late Sridevi, music composer AR Rahman, and Akshay Khanna on behalf of his late father Vinod Khanna.

This was conveyed to the awardees first by officials of the Directorate of Film Festivals, a wing of the information and broadcasting ministry.

The awardees reiterated that they were not against the awards or the President.

That rehearsal was on Wednesday when the winners were told that the President would give away only a select few awards - 11 of the 70 categories and the rest would be given by Irani and Rathore. In the first phase, the awards were presented by the I&B minister and her junior minister while in the second phase the President conferred awards on 11 recipients.

The office of the President of India has conveyed its "unhappiness" to the Prime Minister's Office at the manner in which President Ram Nath Kovind's name was "unnecessarily" dragged into a controversy over the National Awards, Hindustan Times reported. It is a tradition that the President gives the award. We as film makers and artists put in all that we have and tenaciously stick to our dreams in a field of work where appreciation does not come easy. While these are government awards, the fact that they are presented by the president is what makes them unbiased and pristine.

Director Hansal Mehta, who won the National Film Award for Best Direction for Shahid in 2014, told The Indian Express that this was not only disappointing but also humiliating and unfair to the winners.

Actor Riddhi, the Best Actor victor for the film "Nagarkirtan", will receive the honour from the President.

It is hard to say who is to blame more, the President's office or the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting that organised the awards function, but there is no doubt that amends need to be made.

Upset with this decision, almost 68 people skipped the award distribution ceremony.

ALSO READ | What is the National Film Awards 2018 controversy? Also what must be taken into consideration is whether the awards that the President personally handed out at the 65th National Awards were only for the "stars" as Pookutty says, and no one else.

This selective way of giving awards, and further breaking away from the 65-year tradition of National Film Awards, clearly angered and hurt numerous industry people who were hoping to receive such an honour from the hands of the President himself.

Sandeep reiterated that the film fraternity was not boycotting the event, but only conveying their grief over not getting the chance to receive the award from the President. We have not attended the ceremony, because we feel the sanctity of the award has been lost.

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