National film awardees disappointed as Kovind will not present all awards
Recipients of the 65th National Film Awards are disappointed that President Ram Nath Kovind will personally present the prizes to only 11 of the 137 winners when he meets them at a ceremony in the Capital on Thursday, said an official.
That’s because the president will not be able to stay at Vigyan Bhavan, the venue of the award presentation, for the whole ceremony.
Information and broadcasting minister Smriti Irani visited Vigyan Bhavan on Wednesday to meet some of the winners who were at the venue to ease their sense of disappointment, according to the official cited above. He asked not to be named.
The official cited above said that on Wednesday, during the rehearsal of the presentation ceremony, it was announced that the President would not be able to stay for the whole ceremony.
Hindustan Times couldn’t immediately contact any of the winners for a comment.
News agency ANI, however, quoted National Award winning Marathi film director Prakash Oak as saying, “We feel insulted, 75 awardees are threatening to boycott the award ceremony.”
A Rashtrapati Bhavan spokesperson said the organizers had been informed weeks in advance that the President would spend only up to an hour at the function during which time he would give out some of the awards and also have a group photograph taken with all the awardees.
The awards are presented by the President in the presence of the minister for information and broadcasting every year.
I&B ministry sources said this year the National Film Awards will be organised in two phases. The first set of awards will be conferred by Smriti Irani from 4 pm. The second set of awards will be conferred by President Kovind from 5:30 pm.
“The fact that the President will be available at the awards function for one hour was communicated to the organizers weeks in advance. 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,” Ashok Malik, press secretary to President Kovind, said.
A senior I&B ministry official, who did not want to be named, said the President’s office had communicated that Kovind would present only 11 awards, including the prestigious Dada Saheb Phalke award for lifetime achievement, award for the most film friendly state; and a few awards for feature and a non-feature film sections and best writing.
“But the awardees were not happy and have conveyed this to the ministry,” he said.
The National Film Awards have been an annual event since 1954. The awards are given in three sections – feature films, non-feature films and best writing on cinema.
The list of this year’s winners include two posthumous awardees, actor and MP Vinod Khanna who is getting the Dada Saheb Phalke Award, and actor Sridevi who has been chosen best actress for her role in the Hindi film Mom.