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We are recipients of the 65th National Film Awards, an honour that we consider as the most eminent token of appreciation and encouragement for our work.

The artists who stayed back at the Ashok Hotel rather than participate in the "glamour show" at Vigyan Bhawan contend that theirs' was no "boycott" and no insult was meant to the office of the President of India nor, personally, to Mr Ram Nath Kovind.

For the first time in 65 years, the President of India has made a decision to present the National Award to only 11 out of 140 recipients, a move that has not gone down well with the awardees, many of whom have threatened to boycott the ceremony.

Ms. Irani spent almost 45 minutes during the dress rehearsal placating the agitated awardees, explaining to them the new protocol established by Mr. Kovind. The President's office said it was known that since Mr Kovind took office, he has never spent more than one hour at any event.

Saying that they were upset about the President not handing over the award to all the winners, they said that they were informed about this only on Wednesday. Union Ministers Smriti Irani and Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore were also present at the award ceremony. "These winners had already reached Delhi and they were in the middle of their rehearsals when they were informed".

"The fact that the president will be available at the awards function for one hour was communicated to the organisers weeks in advance", Kovind's press secretary Ashok Malik said.

However, many winners showed up despite their protest and received their award from the ministers.

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At the venue of the National Film Awards ceremony at Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi, several chairs meant for the award winners lay empty on Thursday evening.

"I would have been equally happy if the Minister (I&B) had given me the award". 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.

"She was trying to explain that this was the prerogative of the President's office, it was a protocol that needed to be followed and she was helpless in the matter". We are disappointed to know that the Hon'ble President will be presenting the Award to just 11 awardees and not the remaining of about 120 of us. You can't invite them to receive the President's award and then have them receive the award from someone else.

"I mean the point is with the expectation we all went for the awards that it'll be presented by the President".

Film editor and screenwriter Apurva Asrani, who won a National Film Award in 2001, claimed the awards have lost credibility these days.

"Every President, including the lady Pratibha Patil, has patiently given the award to each and every victor".

When your good office had given time to hand over the National Award to only 11 members out of the 125, those smallest people in the whole spectrum got sidelined! We have not attended the ceremony, because we feel the sanctity of the award has been lost. But at the same time, these changes keep happening.


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