As the award winners' invitations stated that they would receive the award from the President of India, they wrote to the DFF about a breach of trust, "65 years of tradition was being overturned in a jiffy", and almost 55 winners boycotted the function.
While the attendees were informed of the change in the ceremony only the day before, Ashok Malik, press secretary to the president, said the ministry was informed of the president's new protocol in advance.
The least that the President's office and the Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting must do is to express regret for the fiasco to the awardees who were not conferred the award by the President.
"One of the reason the National Film Awards are prestigious is because they are handed by the @rashtrapatibhvn -not a minister".
Actor Riddhi, the Best Actor victor for the film "Nagarkirtan", will receive the honour from the President. Around 55 awardees stayed away from the ceremony, but my team insisted that I receive the award from the President.
On Thursday around 50 award winners skipped the ceremony. The President has been an integral part of the National awards functions.
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After a (mostly) controversy-free announcement of the awards last month, Thursday's ceremony was expected to be uneventful. "We do not intend to boycott the award, but not attending the ceremony to convey our discontent and are awaiting a more just solution".
The filmmakers and artistes from across the country have written a letter addressed to the Directorate of Film Festival, President's office and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to express that they feel "dejected rather than honoured" for their work. "Regional cinema needs to be encouraged because we are people who work without caring about revenues", he said but added that he was satisfied with the award selection process, with regional cinema getting significant representation.
Former I&B Minister Manish Tewari asked the President to reconsider his decision calling the decision unfortunate. Pookutty said that most of those who did not turn up for the felicitation ceremony consisted of the majority that form the backbone of the industry.
It is a unique honour to accept an award from the highest in the land, it matters as much as the award itself ~ though some might argue what will be remembered later is the award, not who presented it.
Earlier, the minister of I&B had told the winners that there will be less time for speeches and all the winners will be accommodated to receive the award from the President. I had won the National Award for Best Film Critic for 1998, but received the award only in 2000, because of unstable governments.
Pankaj Tripathi got a special mention for Newton at National Film Awards. "It took us a lot of time to process what had actually happened".