Published: Mon, May 07, 2018
Global Media | By Garry Long

Film awards rake up controversy

Film awards rake up controversy

Unlike before when the awards ceremony was interspersed with songs selected from the awarded films, this year it was devoid of performaces by any of the winners.

The controversy surrounding the 65th National Film Awards refuses to die down, with director Jayaraj now stirring up another controversy by lashing out the winners who stayed away from the ceremony and refusing to take the award from I&B Minister Smriti Irani. In the circumstance of not receiving a response for our grievance we are left with no option but to be absent for the ceremony.

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.

Nothing spoke of the sordidness of this prestigious event as that photograph with just two disturbed award winners, in a hall full of empty chairs. It was conveyed to the Information and Broadcasting Ministry several weeks ago and the ministry knew this all along.

The ministry has been maintaining since Wednesday - when the awardees were informed about the changed pattern of the programme at the rehearsal - that it was the President's decision to give away only some of the awards. At the same time, the organisers could have done a better job of giving adequate notice to the winners about the schedule of the President. They are the workforce. they work behind the camera, they carry heavy lights, they carry heavy equipment, they swing booms, they push trolleys, they work more than 18 hours a day!

"The empty seats were later filled with dummies", an award victor told the publication. Kovind also presented the award for best actress to Sridevi, which was received by her husband Boney Kapoor and daughters Khushi and Jahnvi.

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He wrote that the president said there were over 200,000 people working directly or indirectly for the film industry.

Irani is believed to have assured them that she would convey their "sentiments" to the President's office.

A Rashtrapati Bhavan spokesperson had said the organisers were informed about this development well in advance. Yet, the National Awards have always cut through the clutter and been considered awards of high honour, perhaps more than all other film awards, given that the President usually confers it himself. But it does not make any difference for me because declaration of the award for the movie itself is a matter of pride for me.

This is a departure from the tradition of the president presenting the award every year in the presence of the information and broadcasting minister. They are not called the President's National Awards for no reason. "You can't invite us for the President's award and then inform us that the President won't be handing them to us".

Jury head Shekhar Kapur tried to convince artistes that they were trying their best to get their demands met after he had a closed-door meeting with jury members.

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