50 awardees boycott 65th National Film Awards ceremony

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"It's like artistes have been categorized into A and B", said director Praveen Morchhale, whose Walking With the Wind won three National Awards, including Best Film (Ladakhi).

Unhappy over the the President not giving all the awards, several award winners skipped the awards ceremony.

Oh, wretched irony, that President Ram Nath Kovind - whom BJP president Amit Shah unabashedly introduced as a Dalit when nominating him as a Presidential candidate - should himself introduce a caste system, where it never existed before: India's august National Film Awards. "These winners had already reached Delhi and they were in the middle of their rehearsals when they were informed".

Ms. Irani spent almost 45 minutes during the dress rehearsal placating the agitated awardees, explaining to them the new protocol established by Mr. Kovind. We learned from the news that the President's office was too busy and couldn't have allowed more than an hour.

Rashtrapati Bhavan, sources said, is upset because the President's Secretariat was in touch with the Ministry over the event and, as early as March, had let it be known that the President would spend only an hour at the event and, therefore, not give away all the awards. In the first phase, the awards were presented by the I&B minister and her junior minister while in the second phase the President conferred awards on 11 recipients.

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"...at the end of the day we feel dejected rather than honoured for our work", NDTV quoted the letter written by atistes, who said that they had also written to Irani but were yet to receive a reply from her.

Breaking the tradition, Kovind gave away only 11 awards and this irked several awardees, as they felt it was the demarcation of awards. "Smriti Irani personally pleaded with the President to spare more time for the awards function, but he wouldn't budge".

But most winners received their awards from Irani.

The awardees reiterated that they were not against the awards or the President.

Sri Devi and Vinod Khanna (both posthumous) are amongs tthe eleven selected to receive the National Film Awards directly from President of India Ram Nath Kovind. "They were very supportive when they came to know that some of us were planning to attend the ceremony".

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"We request that the dignity and eminence of this award is maintained and that there is no display of hierarchy at the event". Jayaraj received the Best Director award for the Malayalam movie Bhayanakam.

On the other hand, Ramendra Naresh, a Dalit student who topped the MCA programme at the Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University, refused to accept his gold medal from President Kovind at the convocation scheduled last December, to protest against the growing atrocities against Dalits. He went on to add that those who boycotted the event should return the cash award that was deposited into their accounts.

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National Film Awards, these days, draw more flak than praise.

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