Over 60 winners of the National Film Awards have declared that they will boycott the ceremony on Thursday evening when they were told that President Ram Nath Kovind would be presenting only 11 awards. They were boycotting the event to express their displeasure over the fact that President Ram Nath Kovind would be handing out the awards to only a few of the recipients, as opposed to the tradition of personally handing out the awards to all the winners. Information and Broadcasting Minister, Smriti Irani, who was there to present the award, was greeted by a largely empty hall, whose absence was made even more apparent by the nameplates of the absent award recipients that marked their seats.
In a break from tradition, Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani and her junior minister Rajyavardhan Rathore presented most of the awards. They only wanted to receive the awards from eligible hands.
A day after the fiasco at the National Film awards function in Delhi, Bengali director Kaushik Ganguly is still smarting under the blow. "In all the award ceremonies he has attended, he gives away major awards and takes photographs with all awardees".
"Newton" producer Manish Mundra, whose film has won the National Award for best Hindi film, also expressed his disappointment though it was not immediately clear whether he would skip the ceremony.
The undersigned awardees have urged that the dignity and eminence of the National Awards be maintained and there is no display of hierarchy at the event taking place at the Vigyan Bhawan here.
Shashaa, who has bagged the best female playback singer for "Vaan Varuvaan" from "Kaatru Veliyidai", told IANS: "It's like the thrill of it is gone now". The President informed the Directorate of Film Festivals (DFF) three weeks earlier that he would leave the award function in an hour. However, the question many were left with after this edition of the ceremony, is why all the winners were not felicitated by the President. "Not to undermine any minister but it's the biggest recognition that an artiste gets from his or her nation and it's given by the president", Mehta said.
"No, certainly not. I've nothing against the National film awards just because of this one incident.However the next time, I'd like to be told beforehand whom to expect the award from". "They were very supportive when they came to know that some of us were planning to attend the ceremony". Her body language reflected her determination to give out the awards usually distributed by the President, Abhilash said on Manorama News.
Former I&B Minister Manish Tewari asked the President to reconsider his decision calling the decision unfortunate. He would get exhausted standing, his feet and hands would hurt, he'd take a break and continue giving out the awards to the recipients till the end.
Actor Parvathy, who received the jury's Special Mention for her performance in Take Off said that she was indeed upset at not being able to receive the award from the President.
Suresh and Nilima Eriyat, whose Tokri won the award for best animation short film, also skipped the ceremony.