The presentation ceremony of the 65th National Film Awards was overshadowed by the absence of a huge number of awardees. At least 65 recipients boycotted the ceremony held in Vigyaan Bhawan, New Delhi, in the afternoon of May 3, after learning that the President Of India, Ram Nath Kovind, would give away just 11 awards, with Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani taking care of the rest. This is a departure from a tradition followed for past 64 years, where the President gave away all the awards.
According to the award winners, in the invitation letter sent to them by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB), it was clearly mentioned that they would receive the award from the President. They were in for a surprise yesterday during the rehearsals when they were informed of this change in protocol. Also, the bringing in of a system of hierarchy to the National Film Awards hasn’t gone down well with the awardees. This is what renowned animation filmmaker-artist Suresh Eriyat, whose animated short film Tokri (The Basket) won the Best Animation Film award this year, posted on Facebook:
“Today was the National Awards ceremony. While we accepted the awards conferred on us, we skipped the ceremony as a silent protest. Yesterday, during our rehearsals we were told that the President will not be handing over the award to us. While the entire communication till then stated that the President was to give us the awards as usual. As a rude shock it came to us that only to a select 11 people Was chosen for that honour. This sort of discrimination was never there prior. This is probably the first time in the 65 years history of national awards that the President was not giving away the coveted awards to all. Around 50 of us felt it is wrong for the future generation of film makers if such a trend is instituted forever for now on. #savenationalawards
The unprecedented incident has sent a wave of uproar across social media. Here is what prominent social media users had to say about the NFA controversy:
The whole inherent and intrinsic value of #NationalFilmAwards is due to the fact that it’s being given away by @rashtrapatibhvn Otherwise it’s just one amongst the other many film awards mushrooming across the country! #NationalFilmAwards
— Manish Mundra (@ManMundra) May 3, 2018
Govt. could have asked Amazon to ship it to the winners. Why give it to like this ?
— South Asia Pundit (@PunditAsia) May 3, 2018
Is this whole controversy over the presentation of the #NationalFilmAwards to divert us from something else? 🤔 I mean how can “packed schedule” be the reason? Isn’t the post of a President meant mainly for gracing ceremonial occasions?
— Suganth (@msuganth) May 3, 2018
How should the national film awards be presented?
— Namrata Joshi (@Namrata_Joshi) May 3, 2018
It is unfortunate Hon’ble President of India has not been able to find time to present ALL National Film Awards that show Case India’s creativity,performing Arts& Soft Power. President should reconsider as awards presented by the office he represents carries different GRAVITAS
— Manish Tewari (@ManishTewari) May 3, 2018
I think it is happening for the first time in 65 years that awardees of #NationalFilmAwards wont be felicitated by @rashtrapatibhvn. Only 11 out of 141 will get awards from the President. This is how the best of Indian Cinema is being treated.#Sad
— ashwini chaudhary (@DhoopAshwini) May 3, 2018
Boring speeches by ministers , that too in Shuddh Hindi cud have been cut, and a few more awards could have been given out by the president. Deserving winners cud have been honored. even people from Hindi belt cant follow such high Hindi. #NationalFilmAwards pic.twitter.com/RVYinu7olM
— kasturi shankar (@KasthuriShankar) May 3, 2018
one of the reason the National Film Awards are prestigious is because they are handed by the @rashtrapatibhvn -not a minister. This is a moment of a lifetime for Film makers ; please don’t deprive them of their merit / glory #NationalFilmAwards @smritiirani @Ra_THORe
— rahul dholakia (@rahuldholakia) May 3, 2018