File photo of President Ram Nath Kovind. Photograph:( Zee News Network )
As the 65th National Film Awards were given out today, 68 recipients skipped the ceremony. In an open letter, 60 award winners wrote about being "disheartened" after they got to know that only 11 award winners will be presented the award by President Ram Nath Kovind while others will be handed over the coveted prize by I&B Minister Smriti Irani. Unlike all previously held ceremonies, the Indian President reportedly did not have time for awarding all winners and has been able to take out only an hour’s time. Also Read: The complete list of winners of the 65th National Film Awards.
A Rashtrapati Bhavan told a daily that the President would have very little time for the event. He said, "This has been conveyed to all ministries and departments. This has been the standard practice through the presidency of Ram Nath Kovind. The only exceptions are occasions like the Republic Day Parade."
Those boycotting the event include K J Yesudas who won Best Male Playback Singer, Malayalam director Jayaraj who won the award for Best Director, Malayalam actor Fahadh Faasil who won Best Male Supporting Actor.
62 awardees signed a letter in protest of this break from tradition and threatened to boycott the event. In a letter addressed to Chaitanya Prasad, Addl Director General Directorate of Film Festivals, the group of awardees demanded that the President should give awards to all winners and not just to 11, leaving 120 winners to be handed out the award by the Minister of Information and Broadcasting, Smriti Irani.
In the letter, the awardees wrote about being informed about this change just “a day prior to the event” and “call it a breach of trust”. The letter states: “We are disheartened to know that we will be deprived of this honour of appreciation of a once in a lifetime moment of pride and glory that the National Film has offered us.”
The letter mentions that the awardees discussed the issue with the I&B Minister Smriti Irani but have failed to hear from her and wrote: “we feel dejected rather than honoured for our work.”