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Upset With President Kovind, Winners Threaten to Boycott National Film Awards Ceremony Today

While I&B Minister Smriti Irani personally tried to pacify the winners who made their displeasure apparent during Wednesday’s rehearsal, they remain upset, and the ceremony is expected to see a marked absenteeism.

News18.com

Updated:May 3, 2018, 12:43 PM IST
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Upset With President Kovind, Winners Threaten to Boycott National Film Awards Ceremony Today
File photo of President Ram Nath Kovind. (PTI)
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Winners of the National Film Awards were left fuming on Wednesday, one day prior to the prestigious awards ceremony (to be held at New Delhi’s Vigyan Bhawan today afternoon), after they were informed that President Ram Nath Kovind will only be presenting awards to 11 out of the total 140 recipients.

As reported by The Print, awardees were informed of the change in proceedings at the last minute, during a rehearsal for the ceremony; as per tradition, the President of India hands out all the awards. This time however, due to President Kovind only being able to spare one hour to attend the ceremony, he will only be giving out 11 awards, with the remaining to be presented by I&B Minister, Smriti Irani, a previous awardee herself.

Speaking exclusively with News18.com, a winner who did not wished to be named said, "For now, we all have not yet decided anything. But we might go there and see what can be done. This is a very difficult decision. I also invited my film’s team members and they are also very disappointed. I’m in touch with many winners. Some of them are going while others have decided to skip it. It’s extremely disappointing for artistes like us who are very new to this industry. The worst thing is that we don’t even know what exactly is happening. Nobody is informing us anything. Honestly, it will be a momentary decision, to be made at the time of the ceremony. Right now I can’t really say anything because this is not for today, it’s more about how we’re going to take it for tomorrow. This is very difficult for me. But yes, we are just keeping up our spirits right now."

Speaking to News18.com, Kaushik Ganguly, whose Bengali-language film Nagarkirtan won four awards, including Special Jury Award (Feature Film), National Film Award for Best Actor (Riddhi Sen), Best Costume Design (Gobinda Mandal), Best Make-up Artist (Ram Rajjak), said, "It’s quite unfortunate. They (the government) must not forget that they are national award winners, they are the best in the country. And if the President doesn’t have time for them and he can’t spare two hours on a prefixed date, it’s pretty unfortunate. Secondly, the moment you ask a minister to hand over an award it becomes political. Cabinet minister belongs to a party or a government. Only the president and vice president are above everything." While the filmmaker will not be attending the ceremony, he said, "Riddhi will be going because his category is under control, so he’ll be there. But we won’t be taking our award."

As reported by various publications, this break in tradition has infuriated many of the winners, with several of them intending to boycott the ceremony. They clarified, however, that this doesn’t mean that they will not be accepting the award, merely not attending the ceremony. Reportedly, while Irani personally tried to pacify the winners who made their displeasure apparent during Wednesday’s rehearsal, they remain upset, and the ceremony is expected to see a marked absenteeism.

Started in 1954, The National Film Awards are considered India’s most prestigious awards for filmmaking. Among the categories are awards for best feature film (fiction and non-fiction), directing, acting, cinematography, screenplay, and various regional cinema, among others.

This year, the award’s 65th, the jury was headed by director Shekhar Kapur, and included industry luminaries such as screenwriter Imtiaz Hussain, lyricist Mehboob, actor Gautami Tadimalla, director P. Sheshadri, Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury, Ranjit Das, Rajesh Mapuskar, Tripurari Sharma, and Rumi Jaffrey.
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