Over 50 Empty Chairs At National Film Awards As Upset Winners Skip Event

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Over 50 Empty Chairs At National Film Awards As Upset Winners Skip Event

Posted on : Friday 4th of May 2018

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NEW DELHI:  The National Film Awards on Thursday went off script as over 50 winners skipped the ceremony in Delhi, upset that they would not receive the honour from the President.

In a break from 65-year-old tradition, President Ram Nath Kovind only handed out the award to 11 of the 137 winners. The rest received it from Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani and Minister of State Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore.

At Vigyan Bhawan in the capital, many name plates faced down as the recipients were absent.

Among them was director Praveen Morchhale, whose "Walking With the Wind" won three National Awards including Best Film (Ladakhi).

Mr Morchhale said he and several others were shocked to learn during the rehearsal the day before that the President would present the award only to a chosen few. The President's office said it was known that since Mr Kovind took office, he has never spent more than one hour at any event.

Among the awards that the president handed out were those honouring actors Vinod Khanna and Sridevi, both posthumously. Vinod Khanna's family accepted the Dada Saheb Phalke Award, the highest film honour in India. Sridevi's husband and daughters went to the stage to accept her award for the film "Mom", in a poignant moment in the ceremony.

"Our protest is not against who is getting the award from the President. Everybody should be given by the President or the ministers. Discrimination is very humiliating. It's like artistes have been categorized into A and B," said Mr Morchhale.

Oscar winning sound artiste Resul Pookutty expressed his dismay on social media. "If the government of India cannot earmark three hours of its time, they should not bother giving us National Awards. More than 50 per cent of our sweat, you take it as entertainment tax, the least you could do is respect the values we hold dear," he tweeted.

He also wrote a moving post on Facebook, describing himself as an "ordinary technician" in films. "The National Award is our nation's highest recognition, being recognized at Hon. President's hand is our privilege, our honour and our dream!.But I felt the Nation's sentiment got left out in the choices that were made yesterday, for its the technicians who always gets the raw deal!"

Censor board chief Prasoon Joshi felt the boycott by artistes was not in the right spirit. "Getting an award from the President of the country is a special moment. But at the same time, these changes keep happening. I don't think we should belittle the awards," he told IANS, adding, however, that he did understand the emotion behind the protest.

In another change in the ceremony this year, there was no performance by the award winning singers.

Courtesy : NDTV

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