Amidst controversy, the 65th National Film Awards ceremony was held at the Vigyan Bhavan on Thursday where Union Ministers Smriti Irani and Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore facilitated the winners.
More than 80 winners of the National Film Awards decided not to attend the event after learning that only 11 awards will be presented by President Ram Nath Kovind.
The filmmakers and artistes from across the country have written a letter to express that they feel "dejected rather than honoured" for their work.
It was on Wednesday that the 65th National Film Awards awardees were informed that a large segment of the awards will not be presented by the President. They discussed the matter with Smriti Irani the same evening and were promised a reply.
However, the government on Thursday went on to distribute the awards by Irani and Rathore, breaking from a long-held tradition.
“President should present us the award that is our right. It is a tradition of President giving the award. It takes years to make a film. And it takes a minute for the President to present the award,” filmmaker Meghnath said.
“We are not commercial filmmakers. They are breaking a tradition of 65 years. They could have told us in advance, we would not have come here,” he added.
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.
“It feels like a breach of trust when an institution/ceremony that abides by extreme protocol fails to inform us of such a vital aspect of the ceremony with a prior notice. It seems unfortunate that 65 years of tradition are being overturned in a jiffy,” the letter read added.
The President will hand over the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, Nargis Dutt Award for Feature Films on National Integration, Best Book on Cinema, Best Direction (non-feature film), Best Jasari Film, Best Male Playback Singer, Best Music Direction (songs and background music), Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Direction (feature film), Best Feature Film and Best Editing.