According to the report, 50 award winners skipped the ceremony on Thursday stating they were "disappointed" and "dejected" that President Ram Nath Kovind would hand over only 11 honours and that this was conveyed to the awardees only a day before the event. "It's like artistes have been categorized into A and B", said director Praveen Morchhale, whose Walking With the Wind won three National Awards, including Best Film (Ladakhi). The award recipients boycotted the award after they were told at the last-minute that President Ram Nath Kovind would only present the award to 11 recipients out of a total of 140. "It was left to the Ministry to decide how many awards the President would give and who else would be there on the dais", said a source. "And it takes a minute for the President to present the award".
Notably, the prestigious award is presented by President of India in the presence of Minister of Information and Broadcasting every year. 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 read added.
"We do not want to attend the ceremony at the cost of our self-respect", he told ThePrint. This is a matter that needs to be settled, the President is the star of awards-ceremonies of different categories, civil or military. "We do not intend to boycott the award but are not attending the ceremony to convey our discontent and are awaiting a more just solution", they said in the letter.
"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". In a break from tradition, Smriti Irani presented most of the awards today.
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While the singer changed her mind and attended the ceremony, she says she has huge respect for those who boycotted it. Numerous awardees felt that this created a hierarchy in the awards and was also contrary to what their invitation had said. You can't invite them to receive the President's award and then have them receive the award from someone else. "It has been the practice ever since the president took over that except for Republic Day or very important meetings, he will spend up to an hour at all other functions".
There is doubtlessly a certain halo attached to receiving an award from the President which is undeniable.
The awardees reiterated that they were not against the awards or the President. 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 till the end.
"When ministers get involved, the essence of this award no longer remains the same". We are recipients of the 65th National Film Awards, an honour that we consider as the most eminent token of appreciation and encouragement for our work.