Pune: Amidst controversy and boycott by more than 60 awardees, the 65th National Film Awards were given away on Thursday by Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani, except for 11 awards that were presented by President Ramnath Kovind.
As opposed to the tradition of the past 64 years, where the President felicitates all the recipients of the National Awards, this year, Kovind chose to give away only 11 out of around 140 awards, as the President attends any award ceremony only for an hour. However, this has irked and disappointed many awardees, who boycotted the award ceremony as a sign of protest.
Amar Deokar, director of the Marathi film Mhorkya that won the National Award for being Best Children’s Film as well a Special Jury Mention for actor Yasharaj Karhade, said, “What the Ministry decided earlier has happened, maximum of the awards have been given away by Irani, despite so many of us protesting and criticising the decision. They have given no consideration to us.”
Deokar was amongst the awardees who refused to receive the award from Irani.
“It was on Wednesday, during the dress rehearsal of the awards, we came to know that the awards will be presented to us by Irani, and not by the President. It was shocking, and through a letter, we demanded the awards to be given by the President, else we will skip the ceremony.
“However, as we did not receive any response, we chose to stay in our hotel and not go to the ceremony,” Deokar said.
He mentioned that apart from ‘Mhorkya’ team, all the other awardees from the Marathi film industry attended the ceremony.
When asked about whether he wants to take the issue any further, Deokar said, “I am just going to go back home now and continue with my job, that is making films.”
Amongst the other Marathi films that won the National Awards are Prasad Oak’s debut directorial ‘Kaccha Limbu’ that won the Best Marathi Film award, Nipun Dharmadhikari’s ‘Dhappa’, which won the Nargis Dutt Award for Best Film on National
Integration, and Director Nagraj Manjule’s short film ‘Pavsacha Nibandh’ that won him the Best Director award in the short film
The short film also won the Best Audiography award for Avinash Sonawane.
A call for the boycott
† Marathi film director Sachin Kundalkar, whose recent release Gulabjaam did well in the State, reacted to the issue on Facebook saying, “Do not accept the award at the hands of any minister. The President needs to felicitate the awardees, going beyond any political party or government. This is what is expected. At least do not tie the National Award to the political parties and the ambitions of the minister.”