National Awards: Pinarayi slams Centre for drawing president into a controversy

President's Role Cut Short National Film Award Winners May Skip Event

The winners of the 65th National Film Awards were selected last month by a jury headed by director Shekhar Kapur with screenwriter Imtiaz Hussain, lyricist Mehboob, South Indian actress Gautami Tadimalla, Kannada director P Sheshadri, Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury, Ranjit Das, Rajesh Mapuskar, Tripurari Sharma and Rumi Jaffrey. 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.

Most of the awardees got information of this only at a "dress rehearsal" yesterday and chose to pull out.

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

The second official told the daily that the President had in March told the MIB officials that he would be available for an hour during the award function.

While placing no blame on the President, he wonders why the President couldn't spare ample time to give the awards to everyone.

Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani and Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore handed out the remainder of the 125 awards at the event, which was also devoid of a musical performance unlike every year.

Winners from the Malayalam film industry told media that they were upset that there was discrimination in the award ceremony.

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It all started a day before the awards, when during the dress rehearsal, the winners were informed that the President will be attending the event for an hour and give away awards to only 11 winners out of 137. In the letter we received, we were told that the President will give us the award.

The Thursday ceremony in Delhi was shadowed by anger among scores of winners.

"I would have been equally happy if the Minister (I&B) had given me the award".

The awards ceremony, held at Vigyan Bhavan today, was divided into two phases.

"She was trying to explain that this was the prerogative of the President's office, it was a protocol that needed to be followed and she was helpless in the matter".

It is a unique honour to accept an award from the highest in the land, it matters as much as the award itself ~ though some might argue what will be remembered later is the award, not who presented it. It is a tradition of President giving the award. President Kovind presented the awards later to winners of top awards. They are not called the President's National Awards for no reason. "We do not intend to boycott the award, but not attending the ceremony to convey our discontent and are awaiting a more just solution". "It took us a lot of time to process what had actually happened".

The Indian Cultural Forum spoke to multiple filmmakers about their decision to boycott of the 65th Nationl Award Ceremony.

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