Over 50 upset awardees skip India's national film awards ceremony

Nichole VegaMay 07, 2018

"It's like artistes have been categorized into A and B", said director Praveen Morchhale, whose Walking With the Wind won three National Awards, including Best Film (Ladakhi).

President Ram Nath Kovind, who joined the ceremony in the latter half, said: "We will miss them forever..." In fact, the awardees weren't even aware of the same until they reached the capital to accept the award.

Ms. Irani spent almost 45 minutes during the dress rehearsal placating the agitated awardees, explaining to them the new protocol established by Mr. Kovind.

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. "It was conveyed to Information and Broadcasting Ministry several weeks ago and the ministry knew this all along", said Ashok Malik, press secretary to the president. "It seems unfortunate that 65 years of tradition are being overturned in a jiffy", the letter read added.

In her address, Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani said, almost two thousand films were released in India a year ago.

Kaushik feels the National Awards were politicised when they were given away by Smriti Irani.

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. His wife Kavita Khanna and son Akshaye Khanna received the award. "Smriti Irani personally pleaded with the President to spare more time for the awards function, but he wouldn't budge". In the music category, he gave away the award for Best Playback Singer (Male) to KJ Yesudas but Shashaa Tripupati, who was judged the Best Playback Singer (Female) was awarded by the two ministers. It doesn't make any difference whether the award is presented by President or Minister. "This is in violation of the convention followed for 64 years, since the first National Awards were held", one of the awardees told Outlook. The President should present us the award.

In a stinging post on Facebook, Mr Pookutty pointed out that the President's office picked "only stars" for "those 11 awards".

Malayalam cinematographer Madhu Ambat recalled getting his national award from then information and broadcasting minister H.K.L. Bhagat in 1984 because then President Zail Singh could not attend the event for security reasons. The National Award is our nation's highest recognition, being recognized at Hon.

"Our families have come here to see us get the award".

The Bollywood actors and singers do not want to boycott the award ceremony but they feel it be unfair on their parts for not being awarded by the president.

Film editor and screenwriter Apurva Asrani, who won a National Film Award in 2001, claimed the awards have lost credibility these days.

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