The 65th National Film Awards ceremony was a departure from its 64-year-old tradition of the Indian President handing over the awards to all the winners. Many “hurt” recipients skipped the ceremony as President Ram Nath Kovind had time to present awards to only 11 out of 125 awards.

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Praveen Morchhale, the director of ‘Walking With the Wind’, which won three National Awards including Best Film (Ladakhi) this year, was among those 60 recipients who chose to give the ceremony a miss.”The decision was not taken by one person. It happened last night. During rehearsal, it was announced that the ceremony would be done in two parts. All were shocked,” Morchhale told IANS.(Also read: Boney Kapoor: Unfortunate Sridevi got her 1st National Award after she left)

“Our problem is that they chose to tell us in the last minute. Even the invitation says the President would be honoring us. Suddenly they said only 11 will be awarded by him,” he added.

Over 60 awardees even wrote a letter to the Directorate Of Film Festivals, President’s office and Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, to stop them from categorizing between winners.”Our protest is not against who is getting the award from the President. It is against discrimination. Everybody should be given by the President or the ministers. Discrimination is very humiliating. It is very hurting to us. It’s like artistes have been categorized into A and B,” said the director.

Actor Pankaj Tripathi, who received a Special Mention for ‘Newton’ (Hindi), was simply happy to get the honour. “Even I got to know (about not getting the award from the President) after coming here.”

“We had come here to collect the award from the President but there’s no problem. The award is an award. It doesn’t matter. My award is this – a large number of people gathering around me. We should be able to reside in people’s hearts. Awards…we will keep getting them,” said the ‘Masaan’ actor.

Filmmaker Boney Kapoor who received his wife’s Best Actress Award along with his daughters Janhvi and Khushi talking about the controversy said, “I would have been equally happy if the Minister (I&B) had given me the award. It is ultimately the recognition of your work. I don’t understand what the fuss is about.”

Singer Shashaa Tirupati who received the best female playback singer award for ‘Vaan varuvaan’ in ‘Kaatru Veliyidai’ was very disappointed upon learning that she won’t be receiving her award from Mr. President. The singer told IANS, “I feel terribly disrespected right now. It’s like the thrill of it is gone now. I was so excited. My father was going to fly down from Vancouver. I am thanking my stars that he didn’t. It would have been such an embarrassment because he would have flown down to see me getting the award from the President.”

“National Awards and the President go hand-in-hand. For 64 years, they have been given by the President. When you speak of the National Award, automatically people visualise the President handing over the award to the recipient, “ she added.

Central Board of Film Certification chief Prasoon Joshi said it’s a national honour.”I have won the awards and I know the feeling. I feel that the honour should be respected first though I understand the feelings of the artistes,” Joshi told IANS.

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