National Film Award winners miffed over ceremony
Filmmakers and artistes from across the country have written a letter addressed to the Directorate of Film Festival, expressing their displeasure over the President not handing out all the awards
Over 60 National Film Awards recipients have decided to not attend the award distribution ceremony on Thursday as President Ram Nath Kovind will be giving away only 11 awards, breaking from a long-held tradition, which they have condemned as a "breach of trust."
The filmmakers and artistes from across the country have written a letter addressed to the Directorate of Film Festival, President's office, and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to express that they feel "dejected rather than honoured" for their work. Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani is slated to give away the remainder of the 137 awards.
It was on Wednesday that the awardees were informed that a large segment of the awards will not be presented by the President. They discussed the matter with Irani the same evening and were promised a reply.
"In the circumstance of not receiving a response to our grievance, we are left with no option but to be absent for the ceremony. We do not intend to boycott the award, but are not attending the ceremony to convey our discontent and are awaiting a more just solution," the letter read.
"It feels like a breach of trust when an institution/ceremony that abides by extreme protocol, fails to inform of such a vital aspect of the ceremony. It seems unfortunate that 65 years of tradition are being overturned in a jiffy. We are disheartened to know that we will be deprived of the honour of this appreciation of a once-in-a-lifetime moment of pride and glory that the National Film Awards had promised us," the letter added.
The undersigned awardees have urged that the dignity and eminence of the National Awards be maintained. Names like Riddhi Sen, Divya Dutta, Rima Das, Pankaj Tripathi, KJ Yesudas, Jayaraj and Bhanita Das were seen taking early seats at the ceremony.
The President will hand over the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, Nargis Dutt Award for Feature Films on National Integration, Best Book on Cinema, Best Direction (non-feature film), Best Jasari Film, Best Male Playback Singer, Best Music Direction (songs and background music), Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Direction (feature film), Best Feature Film and Best Editing.
Singer Shashaa Tirupati feels "terribly disrespected." The singer, who has bagged the Best Female Playback Singer award for Vaan Varuvaan from Kaatru Veliyidai, said, "It's like the thrill of it is gone now. I was so excited. My father was going to fly down from Vancouver. I am thanking my stars that he didn't. It would have been such an embarrassment because he would have flown down to see me getting the award from the President."
Riddhi, the Best Actor winner for the film Nagarkirtan, will receive the honour from the President. But he finds the decision for others unfair. "My award of Best Actor will be handed over by the President because it is coming under those 11 categories. There is no doubt about the fact that what is happening is wrong. This is discrimination and this is absolutely unfair." The 19-year-old actor added, "This has never happened in the history of the National Awards and is hence very shocking. It is a matter of tradition which has been going on for years."
Nagarkirtan director Kaushik Ganguly said, "The National Award is a matter of passion for many as it is the President's Award. Even the newspaper advertisement clearly mentions that 'Awards will be handed over by honourable President'." He pointed out that the National Awards are an "apolitical award. When ministers get involved, the essence of this award no longer remains the same. Dreams have been shattered and many recipients have felt very much insulted."
"The President could not spare an hour or so for the deserving awardees of the nation. We haven't taken this change in a good light and have taken it as a disrespect," he added.
Fahad Faasil, the best supporting actor, leaving without accepting the National Award