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National Film Award 2018: Winners say ‘No’ to Smriti Irani, insist on receiving from President

The annual national film awards have met with boycott call and aversion among the film fraternity when the function itinerari revealed that about 60 winners out of all, will be honoured by the ministers, instead of the President of India Ram Nath Kovind. The new rule does not allow the President to spare more than one hour for any awards ceremony.

Over 60 winners of the National Film Awards have declared that they will boycott the ceremony on Thursday evening when they were told that President Ram Nath Kovind would be presenting only 11 awards. This is a clear departure from tradition when earlier presidents were there throughout the ceremony to present the awards to movie persons, despite their age or gender.

The new tradition was made evident when dress rehearsal for the 65th National Film Awards was held just a day before the ceremony on Wednesday with the focus on Sridevi family members Boney Kapoor, Jhanvi and Khushi being geared up for the show.

The event was planned for all the other or less priority winners to receive the awards from Minister of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Smriti Irani, Minister of State, I&B Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, and the I&B ministry’s secretary Narendra Kumar Sinha. The President was supposed to arrive much later and hand over prestigious 11 awards, and then will have a photo-op with all the winners in groups of 45.

Earlier, the minister of I&B had told the winners that there will be less time for speeches and all the winners will be accommodated to receive the award from the President. When the news was out, several winners dashed out a protest letter to the Directorate of Film Festivals saying that they would be not be attending the ceremony, which has been changed at the last minute.

The signatories include noted singer KJ Yesudas, named this year’s best playback singer, Bengali filmmaker Kaushik Ganguly, best supporting actor winner Fahadh Faasil.

Till last year, when Pranab Mukherjee was President, all awards have been handed out personally. "In all the award ceremonies he has attended, he gives away major awards and takes photographs with all awardees. That has been the standard practice, which has been conveyed to the organisers well in advance," said the President’s press secretary Ashok Malik.

The winners of the 65th National Film Awards were selected last month by a jury headed by director Shekhar Kapur with screenwriter Imtiaz Hussain, lyricist Mehboob, South Indian actress Gautami Tadimalla, Kannada director P Sheshadri, Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury, Ranjit Das, Rajesh Mapuskar, Tripurari Sharma and Rumi Jaffrey.

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