‘Receiving National Awards from President is our right’

[India] May 3 (ANI): More than 68 winners of the National Film Awards on Thursday decided to skip the ceremony after it was announced that President Ram Nath Kovind would be felicitating only 11 winners out of the total 137 recipients.

Talking to ANI, filmmaker Meghnath said, “President should present us the award. That is our right. It is a tradition of President giving the award. It takes years to make a film and it takes a minute for the President to present the award.”

He added: “We are not commercial filmmakers. They are breaking a tradition of 65 years. They could have told us in advance so that we would not have come here.”

The filmmakers are miffed as they were informed at the last minute that the President would present 11 awards and rest of the awards would be presented by Information and Technology Minister Smriti Irani.

Talking to ANI, producer RC Suresh, whose film ‘Sword of Liberty’ was selected for the award, said, “Sixty-eight awardees, including great celebrities, won’t attend the ceremony because receiving an award from President of India was a dream.”

He added that they were invited by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry via a letter signed by the Additional Director General (ADG) that stated that they would receive the award from the President.

“All the awardees were cherishing this beautiful moment when on 3rd May, they will receive the award from President. But yesterday during the rehearsal, the ADG came on podium and tried to tell us that there is a change in the format, and the President will give the award to selected people and main Dadasaheb Phalke award and all the other awards will be given by the I&B Minister,” said Suresh.

Further, National Award winning Marathi film director Prakash Oak termed the incident as insulting and expressed sorrow over the same.

Helmers from across the country have written a letter addressed to the Directorate of Film Festival, Office of the President of India and the Information and Broadcasting Ministry to express their disappointment and decision to skip the event.

In a letter issued by the recipients of the award, they termed the incident as a breach of trust as such an important piece of information was conveyed to them so late.

“It seems unfortunate that the 65 years of tradition are being overturned in a jiffy,” the statement read.

“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,” it added.

The National Film Awards is the most prominent film award ceremony in India that was established in 1954.

This year, the jury members were Kannada director P Sheshadri, screenwriter Imtiaz Hussain, Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury, Tripurari Sharma, South Indian actress Gautami Tadimalla, Ranjit Das, Rumi Jaffrey, lyricist Mehboob, and Rajesh Mapuskar, headed by filmmaker Shekhar Kapur. (ANI)

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