"Don't Bother Giving Us National Award", Says Oscar Winner Resul Pookutty

Ram Nath Kovind

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. "Unprecedented" is a word that must be used with circumspection when referring to any form of protest in this country, yet over 50 winners of the National Film Awards declining to participate in the awards-presentation ceremony does not speak well of how the information and broadcasting ministry managed an event in which the President featured prominently.

"The fact that the president will be available at the awards function for one hour was communicated to the organisers weeks in advance", Kovind's press secretary Ashok Malik said.

Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani and Minister of State Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore conferred rest of the awardes. 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.

Malayalam film director Jayaraj who won two national awards for best direction (Bhayanakam) and best adaptive screenplay, signs the protest letter.

After the dress rehearsal yesterday, I&B minister Smriti Irani tried to pacify the awardees, saying she will cut down the time for her speech so that more awardees can receive the award from the President, but that hasn't proved to be reassuring.

Almost 70 recipients have reportedly skipped the ongoing ceremony at Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi.

The ceremony is going on at present. But today, the ceremony is drawing attention for a completely different reason.

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While the singer changed her mind and attended the ceremony, she says she has enormous respect for those who boycotted it.

Although as per sources, officials from the Rashtrapati Bhavan did say that going by protocol the President is not supposed to spend over an hour at an award function and that this had been informed to the ministry nearly 3 weeks ago. "President attends all awards functions and convocations for a maximum of one hour".

"I would have been equally happy if the Minister (I&B) had given me the award". Bahubali 2 also got the award for special effects.

"Our problem is that they chose to tell us at the last minute. We are upholding the National Awards, no doubt", Parvathy said.

"Every President, including the lady Pratibha Patil, has patiently given the award to each and every victor. A decision regarding it will be taken soon", ministry sources said.

More than his own sense of mortification and disappointment Ganguly whose film Nagarkirtan won Best Actor (Riddhi Sen), Best Costume (Gobindo Mondol), Best Make-up Artist (Ram Rajak) and Special Jury award, feels let down on behalf of his team. But at the same time, these changes keep happening.

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