The 65th National Film Awards ceremony was held in Delhi on April 5 and nearly 55 award winners reportedly boycotted the ceremony following an announcement that Indian President Ram Nath Kovind will only felicitate a small number of awardees.
This is the first time that the tradition of giving awards by the president broke away and he only presented the National Film Awards to a select group of 11 awardees out of 131, on the plea that he would attend the event only for an hour. Other award winners were honoured by Smriti Irani, Information and Broadcasting minister. Many awardees got furious over the decision. Following this, 50 awardees boycotted and 60 others have written a letter in the protest.
The letter read “It feels like a breach of trust when an institution that abides by extreme protocol fails to inform us of such a vital aspect of the ceremony without prior notice. It seems unfortunate that 65 years of tradition are being overturned in a jiffy.”
Ashok Malik, press secretary to the president, in response to the letter has said, “It expressed surprise at the “11th hour protest”, saying it was known that President Kovind attends all award functions for a maximum of one hour, no matter what their nature. “This has been the protocol since he assumed office. It was conveyed to Information and Broadcasting Ministry several weeks ago and the ministry knew this all along,”
The award winners also said that they felt “dejected rather than honoured for our work”.
While addressing the ceremony Indian president said “Picture abhi baaki hai” – the best is ahead of us.”
He added “Sridevi is this year’s winner of the Best Female Actor Award and Vinod Khanna has been named for the Dadasaheb Phalke Award for his lifetime contribution. We miss them today, and we will miss them forever.”