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National Film Awards: When The Show Must Go On, Despite Boycott By Winners

The awards, very likely marked one of the biggest days in the history of Indian cinema, as 56 honorees decided to skip the evening in protest against the decision.

Shrishti Negi | News18.com

Updated:May 3, 2018, 8:12 PM IST
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National Film Awards: When The Show Must Go On, Despite Boycott By Winners
Image: Twitter/ PIB
Veteran star Sridevi was posthumously awarded Best Actress for her portrayal of a vengeful mother in Hindi crime thriller Mom, while Rima Das' Assamese-language film Village Rockstar about a 10-year-old girl dreams of owning an electric guitar was declared the Best Feature Film at the 65th National Film Awards earlier this evening.

The awards, which ran into controversy hours before the presentation ceremony after recipients were informed that President Ram Nath Kovind would only be presenting to 11 out of the total 140 winners, very likely marked one of the biggest days in the history of Indian cinema, as 56 honorees decided to skip the evening in protest against the decision.

Riddhi Sen of Kahaani fame was honoured with the Best Actor award for Kaushik Ganguly's gay love story Nagarkirtan, which also bagged awards in Special jury awards in the Best Make Up and Best Costume category.

Speaking to News18 post his win, Sen said, "It's also on behalf of my entire team who couldn't come. It's really unfortunate. But again it's not really important anymore from whose hands we're taking the award because it was the jury members who for so many days had to see all these films and they are the ones to decide. So in a span of the next 5 years people won't really remember from whose hands we took it from, but people will remember there was a national award winning film."

Director Das, whose film Village Rockstar made waves across several film festivals, was awarded with three Rajat Kamals. Though Rima said it was a huge honour for her, it would have been great if she could have shared the special moment with all other winners, who boycotted the ceremony. "It feels really blessed. I don't know how to express myself. However, I had thought about so many things but it didn't pan out that way. But we also can't disrespect the jury and the President. Although we're sad, it's really difficult to decide in this situation. Somewhere I felt that it was not degrading the award, so we decided to come. I still respect everyone's point of view and how they feel."

Speaking to News18.com earlier in the day, Kaushik Ganguly, whose Nagarkirtan won four awards, 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."

For his role in Amit Masurkar's Newton (which also bagged the award for best Hindi film), where he played a maverick army commandant, thespian Pankaj Tripathi was awarded a Special Mention at the awards. He was presented the award by Union ministers Smriti Irani and Raghavendra Rathore. Speaking to News18, about the President giving away only a few awards, the actor said, "Ab baarat aa chuki hai, dulhan koi bhi vida karde. I was also expecting that the president will give away the award but it’s OK. I can’t express it in words. Still I feel that we shouldn’t boycott it because every recognition is important, and we shouldn’t disrespect it."

Ganesh Acharya who won the National Award for Best Choreographer for Toilet: Ek prem katha, spoke to News18, after receiving his award. "It’s a huge honour for me. For Indians I think national awards are equivalent to Oscars. I’m extremely happy. I got my first national award for Bhaag Milkha Bhaag and am now getting one for Toilet. I could not have asked for more. This is the award where you actually feel that you’re working for your country. I don't know about other awards but this surely feels like I'm actually contributing something to my homeland," he said.

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