National Film Awards have always been known for inviting controversy and the scenario is no different this year too. Awardees of the 65th National Film Awards are unhappy with President Ram Nath Kovind as he personally felicitated only 11 winners of the 137 winners. In a letter forwarded to the Directorate of Film Festival, Office of the President of India and the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, artistes from various parts of the country have expressed their disappointment. “It feels like a breach of trust when an institution/ceremony that abides by extreme protocol fails to inform us of such a vital aspect of the ceremony with a prior notice. It seems unfortunate that 65 years of tradition are being overturned in a jiffy,” the letter read.
Actress Nishigandha Wad said, “President is the first citizen of the country so he might have genuine reasons for honouring few awardees. Organisers too can reschedule the event. Many artists would prefer to receive the award from the President’s hands and if he doesn’t felicitate them then they might feel dejected. Awardees will share better views pertaining to this issue. If some of them want to receive awards from President’s hands, then the entire film fraternity should support them.”
According to the Rashtrapati Bhavan spokesperson, notification was issued to the organisers weeks ahead of the award event that President would spend only up to an hour at the function during which time he would felicitate only 11 and also remain present for the group photograph with all the awardees. The remaining awards would be conferred by Union minister for Information and Broadcasting Smriti Irani and Minister of State Rajyavardhan Rathore. The awards event could have postponed to a different date if the President was unable to allot adequate time for it.
Actor Makarand Deshpande said, “It’s an honour for the awardees to receive the award from the President and be featured in a photograph with him. However, this year recipients won’t be able to view those memorable photos. If the President doesn’t have time, then why is he felicitating those 11 awardees? If he is busy in some other important work, then President’s office should issue a clarification citing reasons for the same.”
Every year awards are presented by the President in the presence of the Minister for Information and Broadcasting. National Film Awards is known as a prestigious event and is given a wide coverage by the media and watched by many people. Is the President not serious about such prestigious award event by not giving enough time for it? Even recipients too expect the President to felicitate them and it’s an honour to receive the awards from his hands.
Actor Kishor Kadam said, “Recipients have made the right demand. If President is having a busy schedule then award function should be rescheduled. It is a privilege to receive the award from the hands of the President. Awards should be handed over by the President himself.”
Has the National Awards event become a mere formality as the President is unable to allot adequate time for it? By honouring only 11 recipients, is the President sidelining other awardees and insulting them? Netizens too expressed their displeasure over Kovind’s inability to find time for presenting all awards. Many of them said that he is also undermining the work of film industry which is known for producing quality films and entertaining viewers.
Marathi actress Samidha Guru said, “Traditionally, the President of India is known to honour awardees. As an actor, I can understand the feelings of the awardees. It is obviously the dream of every artist to receive an award from the President.”
“Every artist aspires to receive National Film Awards and they have to undergo immense struggle. If the President is unable to honour awardees, then an official below his designation must hand over awards to the recipients. The government must issue a clarification in this regard and also take steps to avert these incidents in future,” she added.
The panelists for the 65th National Film Awards 2018 consist of 10 members including lyricist Mehboob, South Indian actress Gautami Tadimalla, Parinda screenwriter Imtiaz Hussain, Ranjit Das, Rajesh Mapuskar, Tripurari Sharma Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury and Rumi Jaffrey. The awards are given in three sections – feature films, non-feature films and best writing on cinema. During last year’s award event, President Pranab Mukherjee had personally handed over the National Film Awards to all the recipients.