What prompted 'Tolet' director Chezhian to boycott National Film Awards ceremony?

Monday, 07 May, 2018

Also what must be taken into consideration is whether the awards that the President personally handed out at the 65th National Awards were only for the "stars" as Pookutty says, and no one else. The awardees were furious after it was revealed that President Ram Nath Kovind will hand over just 11 awards. Information and Broadcasting Minister, Smriti Irani, who was there to present the award, was greeted by a largely empty hall, whose absence was made even more apparent by the nameplates of the absent award recipients that marked their seats.

Ms. Irani spent almost 45 minutes during the dress rehearsal placating the agitated awardees, explaining to them the new protocol established by Mr. Kovind. "And it takes a minute for the President to present the award", filmmaker Meghnath said. "It was conveyed to information and broadcasting ministry several weeks ago and the ministry knew this all along", Ashok Malik, press secretary to the president was quoted as having said. "It seems unfortunate that 65 years of tradition are being overturned in a jiffy".

Sources said the I&B Ministry is said to be finalising a protocol under which, in the future, the President may only give the Dadasaheb Phalke award while other awards will be given by other dignitaries, most likely the I&B Minister of the day.

I have had the honour of attending four National Film Awards - once as an award victor, and thrice on the National Film Award Jury, in 2008, 2011 and 2014.

Veteran actor Sridevi, who passed away recently was honoured with the Best Actress award for her performance in "Mom". While these are government awards, the fact that they are presented by the president is what makes them unbiased and pristine.

Marathi film director Prakash Oak was quoted by news agency ANI as saying, "We feel insulted, 75 awardees are threatening to boycott the award ceremony today".

"... We are disheartened to know that we will be deprived of the honour of this appreciation of a once-in-a-lifetime moment of pride and glory that the National Film Awards had promised us", the letter added. The President should present us the award. "That's what I've witnessed at all the National awards I've attended so far.That's the protocol". Irani is said to have assured them that she would "convey" their "sentiments" to the President's office.

Riddhi, 19, said "this has never happened in the history of the National Awards and is hence very shocking".

Winners feel they have been cheated, and demand the President present the award to all, as has been the convention, or to none.

"When your good office had given time to hand over the National Award to only 11 members out of the 125, it is those smallest people in the whole spectrum got sidelined!"

"No, certainly not. I've nothing against the National film awards just because of this one incident.However the next time, I'd like to be told beforehand whom to expect the award from".