Respected President of India, the National Film Awards amount to a day when regional cinema finds a rare moment of national recognition. And you deprived them of that
Just a while ago, I was discussing with colleagues about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s latest commendable outreach to the sportsmen. His interaction with all CWG 2018 medal winners at his official residence, complimented with personalised tweets through his official Twitter handle, was indeed an inspiring gesture to the sports fraternity. Hours later, I wish I could express the same for the President of India, Ram Nath Kovind, who stoked an unusual controversy at the National Film Awards. Due to ‘paucity of time’, the President skipped major part of the prestigious event and decided to honour winners only in 11 categories. Naturally, he drew strong backlash from the film fraternity as well as those who were excited to be awarded by him.
Multiple reports confirm that over 55 winners absented themselves from the ceremony, held at Vigyan Bhavan, Delhi, citing ‘discrimination’ and ‘disappointment’ . In a letter shared to the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, President’s Office and the Directorate of Film Festival, they wrote:
It is only a day before the ceremony that we have learnt through Chaitanya Prasad that a large segment of the Awards will not be presented by the President of India. It feels like a breach of trust when an institution/ceremony that abides by extreme protocol fails to inform us of such a vital aspect of the ceremony with a prior notice. It seems unfortunate that 65 years of tradition are being overturned in a jiffy.
Now, not turning up at the award ceremony is bit of an overreaction or not is a debatable question but it can’t be denied that the awards are of great significance for the film industry, simply because they are being annually distributed by the President for the last 65 years. Hence, it is shocking that the President has decided to discard the long existed tradition without any logical reasoning.
Literally, the National Awards amount to just one day when regional film-makers, who hardly have any encouragement of sorts outside their territory, are given one minute of national recognition for cinematic excellence that they dare to showcase despite plethora of constraints. Denying them from that honour is a matter of dejection and disgrace. The whole controversy also exposes the President’s lack of interest in the world of entertainment, if nothing more.
To those who have failed to understand the whole argument, I would like to give a small example. Suppose, you are a student and expecting to be awarded at your school’s annual function at a destination ceremony. Your school has earned decades of reputation of calling a certain figure to honour students at this event. And a day before the event, you are informed that you won’t be awarded by the chief guest as he/she has selected a handful of other students to do the honour. Now tell me, how would you feel? Got it?
Obviously, it is no big deal to those who have nothing to do with the business of entertainment. But the whole matter concerns those who love cinema and want it to flourish. I have got a suggestion for the President. Henceforth, skip the national film awards completely. Else, this selective appearance is an insult to the craft of film-making. After all, films entertain us throughout the year and let us forget our woes when hard-hitting policies are announced overnight.
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