As many as 60 recipients of the 65th National Film Awards to stayed away from the presentation ceremony here today to protest President Ram Nath Kovind's inability to personally present the prizes to all the winners.
It all started a day before the awards, when during the dress rehearsal, the winners were informed that the President will be attending the event for an hour and give away awards to only 11 winners out of 137. Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani and Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Rathore would be giving away the rest. "When you speak of the National Award, automatically people visualise the President handing over the award to the recipient".
A day after the fiasco at the National Film awards function in Delhi, Bengali director Kaushik Ganguly is still smarting under the blow.
The award ceremony began at Vigyan Bhawan where the two ministers gave out awards till the arrival of the President.
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Prasad Devineni, the producer of Baahubali, remarked as reported: "If an award is an award, you can send it by post."And this seems to be the general view with the awardees in tweets and comments making it clear that the National Film Awards were special only because these were given by the President".
The President said, a new category of visas for foreign filmmakers has been created and the Film Facilitation Office has been opened to spur filmmaking by worldwide production houses.
Those present at the ceremony to receive awards included Rima Das, Jayaraj, Riddhi Sen, A R Rahman, K J Yesudas, Nagraj Manjule, Pankaj Tripathi, Divya Dutta, Nikhil S Praveen, Tenzing Kunchok and Sanjiv Monga.
The second official told the daily that the President had in March told the MIB officials that he would be available for an hour during the award function.
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If the Ministry had been aware that the President would only give a few awards, why was this not shared with the winners? "They could have told us in advance, we would not have come here", he added. "We are upholding the National Awards, no doubt", Parvathy said.
"The empty seats were later filled with dummies", an award victor told The New Indian Express.
Asked if the I&B Minister met Kovind, Malik said: "I am not aware of any such meeting in the context of the film awards". Bahubali 2 also got the award for special effects.
"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". I learnt of a film called Sinjar made in Jeseri language that won two awards and then there was Village Rockstars, made on a budget of Rs 10 lakh and with a two-member unit, which made it big at the awards.
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Saying that they were upset about the President not handing over the award to all the winners, they said that they were informed about this only on Wednesday. But at the same time, these changes keep happening.