Over 50 upset awardees skip India's national film awards ceremony

Many of the upset National Award winners are planning to give the prestigious ceremony a miss

Many of the upset National Award winners are planning to give the prestigious ceremony a miss

Actor Riddhi, the Best Actor victor for the film "Nagarkirtan", will receive the honour from the President.

During the dress rehearsal on Wednesday the recipients were told that President Ram Nath Kovind would only present 11 of the 137 awards. With President Ram Nath Kovind complaining to Prime Minister Modi about the "botch up" of National Film Awards function by Information & Broadcasting ministry, speculation is rife that a few heads may roll.

That the invitation that had been sent to the awardees had mentioned that they would get the awards from the President lent a poor taste when this simple assertion was violated.

Ms. Irani spent almost 45 minutes during the dress rehearsal placating the agitated awardees, explaining to them the new protocol established by Mr. Kovind.

Insiders say that was somewhat a break from tradition as all awards were given away by the president. The first set of awards was conferred by Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani and Minister of State Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore.

Nothing spoke of the sordidness of this prestigious event as that photograph with just two disturbed award winners, in a hall full of empty chairs.

It is only a day before the ceremony that we have learnt through Mr. Chaitanya Prasad, that a large segment of the awards will not be presented by the Hon'ble President of India. If the President was not available, they should have mentioned it before hand that a Cabinet Minister will be presenting the awards on behalf of the President.

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About 68 award-winners boycotted the function in New Delhi after they learned that majority would not receive the awards from the President as was the custom.

Former I&B Minister Manish Tewari asked the President to reconsider his decision calling the decision unfortunate.

Rashtrapati Bhavan sources said not only had the Ministry been informed in advance, there were several discussions on the venue too after the Ministry suggested changing it from Vigyan Bhawan - where the awards have traditionally been held - to Rashtrapati Bhavan.

"This has been the protocol since he took office". They are not called the President's National Awards for no reason.

Earlier, sound artiste Resul Pookutty took to his Twitter account and shared, "If the government of India can not earmark three hours of its time, they should not bother giving us National Awards". Among the 11-awards the President gave away were also the two posthumous awards to Sridevi and Vinod Khanna that were collected by their respective families and Best Music Direction to AR Rahman.

Over 50 seats were vacant while Smriti Irani gave away the awards. He would get exhausted standing, his feet and hands would hurt, he'd take a break and continue giving out the awards to the recipients right to the end.

Praveen Morchhale, the director of Walking With The Wind, which won three National Awards including Best Film (Ladakhi) this year, was among those recipients who chose to give the ceremony a miss. "It took us a lot of time to process what had actually happened".

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