Friday, 17 August, 2018

National Film Awards: 68 winners boycott the ceremony; know why

INDIA-PRESIDENT President Ram Nath Kovind | Reuters
Michele Schwartz | 07 May, 2018, 15:11

More than 66 National Film Awards winners have chose to boycott this year's function in protest against Union I&B Minister Smriti Irani presenting most awards instead of President Ram Nath Kovind. It was conveyed to Information and Broadcasting Ministry several weeks ago and the ministry knew this all along.

"The President has not cut short his stay at the awards function". "She told us she had offered to cut down on her speech so all could be awarded by the President within the time he had given for the function", they said.

Insiders say that was somewhat a break from tradition as all awards were given away by the president.

An official told the daily that the President's Office was surprised at the controversy because the original plan was for President Kovind to present 11 awards.

Within minutes of the protest, the Minister for Information and Broadcasting Smriti Irani had arrived at Vigyan Bhavan to speak to the disappointed awardees. We felt bad because the people who got left out were those raw people, the technicians who are always called first in every award ceremony and edited out in every TV shows. "It seems unfortunate that 65 years of tradition are being overturned in a jiffy", the letter said.

Despite I&B ministry knowing Prez couldn't give all awards, it sent out invites saying he would.

But there were some winners whose name plates were placed facing down as they were not at the venue.

"It feels like a breach of trust when an institution/ceremony that abides by extreme protocol, fails to inform of such a vital aspect of the ceremony with prior notice". While these are government awards, the fact that they are presented by the president is what makes them unbiased and pristine. In the music category, he gave away the award for Best Playback Singer (Male) to KJ Yesudas but Shashaa Tripupati, who was judged the Best Playback Singer (Female) was awarded by the two ministers. They only wanted to receive the awards from eligible hands. "It is well known that the President has a very tight schedule", said a source.

Mr Kovind said, India is gaining traction as a film-making destination and the success of several India-based films has attracted many global studios.

A day after the frightful fiasco at the National Film awards function in Delhi, Bengali director Kaushik Ganguly is still smarting under the blow.

In 2012, Vice-President Hamid Ansari conferred the awards. "But to have the President's consent to give away some of the awards personally and not the rest is just not acceptable on any level".

When your good office had given time to hand over the National Award to only 11 members out of the 125, it is those smallest people in the whole spectrum got sidelined!

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".

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