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Filmmakers Explain Why they Boycotted the National Film Awards Ceremony

07 May, 2018, 06:28 | Author: Tara Roberts
  • President Ram Nath Kovind and Smriti Irani

More than 66 National Film Awards winners have made a decision to boycott this year's function in protest against Union I&B Minister Smriti Irani presenting most awards instead of President Ram Nath Kovind. A last-minute petition was signed by the awardees, especially from the Bengal film industry, when they became aware of the fact that the President will honour only eleven of the winners. Those who did receive the awards from the President included Boney Kapoor, who received the award on behalf of his late wife, Sridevi; Akshay Khanna, who received it on behalf of his father, the late Vinod Khanna; and the Bengali actor Riddhi Sen.

The ceremony was eventually organised in two phases. This year, in a departure from the established practice, President Ram Nath Kovind did not give awards to each recipient. In the letter we received, we were told that the President will give us the award. Also what must be taken into consideration is whether the awards that the President personally handed out at the 65th National Awards were only for the "stars" as Pookutty says, and no one else. "We do not intend to boycott the award, but are not attending the ceremony to convey our discontent and are awaiting a just solution", read the letter. Irani is said to have assured them that she would "convey" their "sentiments" to the President's office.

"In the circumstances of not receiving a response for our grievance we are left with no option but to be absent for the ceremony. I don't think we should belittle the awards".

Veteran actor Sridevi, who passed away recently was honoured with the Best Actress award for her performance in "Mom".

"We do not want to attend the ceremony at the cost of our self-respect", he told ThePrint.

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Over 50 seats were vacant while Smriti Irani gave away the awards.

Yet they do make a point when complaining it was only at a rehearsal they were informed that Mr Kovind would be presenting only a limited number of awards ~ not as mentioned in their invitations ~ and which had prompted them to ask family, colleagues, friends etc.to come to the Capital for the function.

Best Adapted Screenplay award goes to Malayalam film, Bhayanakam. "You can't invite us for the President's award and then inform us that the President won't be handing them to us". The same was conveyed to the I&B Ministry almost three weeks ago.

The Narendra Modi government and the office of the President deserve to do some soul-searching for the way they treated the bulk of the awardees of the 65th National Film Awards this time around.

On the other hand, Ramendra Naresh, a Dalit student who topped the MCA programme at the Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University, refused to accept his gold medal from President Kovind at the convocation scheduled last December, to protest against the growing atrocities against Dalits. In the same category, Marathi Film, Morkhya; Oriya Film, HelloRC and Malayalam actor Parvathy, forTake Off were also awarded.

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