Awards Controversy: President Office Upset on Smriti Irani

Ram Nath Kovind

Ram Nath Kovind

Even though we have many film industries, the National Awards are supposed to not discriminate regardless of language, cast, budget or popularity. This has been standard practice through the presidency of Ram Nath Kovind.

For the first time in 65 years, the President of India has chose to present the National Award to only 11 out of 140 recipients, a move that has not gone down well with the awardees, many of whom have threatened to boycott the ceremony.

According to an unnamed source quoted by Hindustan Times, Smriti Irani had met few of the recipients of the awards at Vigyan Bhawan on Wednesday to speak to them after they expressed disappointment.

Ms. Irani spent almost 45 minutes during the dress rehearsal placating the agitated awardees, explaining to them the new protocol established by Mr. Kovind. "It seems unfortunate that 65 years of tradition are being overturned in a jiffy".

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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.

While Rashtrapati Bhavan officials are not denying that the programme was run by the officials concerned, they iterated what Malik said: that the nitty-gritty of an event is decided by the ministry or department concerned.

"It is only a day before the ceremony that we have learnt through Mr Chaitanya Prasad that a large segment of the awards will not be presented by the Hon'ble President of India".

Traditionally the awards are presented by the President: so they deemed the ones to be handed over by the I&B minister and her minister of state to be of a lower category, which they perceived as insulting.

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The presentation ceremony of the 65th National Film Awards was overshadowed by the absence of a huge number of awardees. The first phase, a rushed ceremony without welcome speeches, had the ministers give out awards.

The second phase of the ceremony, when President Kovind presented 11 awards, was conducted with the traditional pomp and splendor associated with the event. In the letter we received, it was mentioned that the President of India will give away the award.

Shashaa, who bagged the Best Female Playback Singer for "Vaan varuvaan" from "Kaatru Veliyidai", told IANS: "It's like the thrill of it is gone now..."

"With due respect to the 10-11 specially-chosen recipients, every recipient of the National Award is equally special". "This has been the protocol since he assumed office". And that's the reason why they are such a big deal - not because the President hands them out. But yesterday, we came to know that the President will give awards to only 11 people and that all of us will get a chance to take a group photo with him. "It took us a lot of time to process what had actually happened".

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The directorate of film festivals (DFF), the organiser of the awards ceremony, will now be sending the citation, medal and cheque to the awardees through Speed Post, as reported by The Asian Age.

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