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  Life   More Features  05 May 2018  Awards fiasco

Awards fiasco

THE ASIAN AGE. | SUBHASH K JHA
Published : May 5, 2018, 12:03 am IST
Updated : May 5, 2018, 12:06 am IST

Kaushik Ganguly feels the National Awards were politicised when they were given away by Smriti Irani.

The late Vinod Khanna’s son Akshaye Khanna and wife Kavita Khanna received the Dadasaheb Phalke Award  from the President on his behalf.
 The late Vinod Khanna’s son Akshaye Khanna and wife Kavita Khanna received the Dadasaheb Phalke Award from the President on his behalf.

Award-winning directors and actors said the sanctity of the National Awards was sullied when the President said he had no time to present them to all, barring a select few.

A day after the fiasco at the National Film Awards function in Delhi, Bengali director Kaushik Ganguly is still smarting under the blow. More than his own disappointment, Ganguly, whose film Nagarkirtan won Best Actor (Riddhi Sen), Best Costume (Gobindo Mondol), Best Make-up Artist (Ram Rajak) and Special Jury Award, is upset on behalf of his team. “We were all there waiting in the lobby, dressed up and excited about our film being honoured. Why weren’t we informed about the President’s inability to give away the awards? You can’t invite us for the President’s award and then inform us that the President won’t be handing them to us.”

Kaushik feels the National Awards were politicised when they were given away by Smriti Irani. “If not the President, the awards should have been given by the Vice-President. These positions are beyond politics. But the moment you bring the minister of information and broadcasting into the picture, you are politicising the National Film Awards,” he said.

What was worse was the discrimination. “To say the President would be available to give away a handful of the awards and not the rest is  just not done. I’d have been less unhappy if Ms Smriti Irani was asked to give away all the awards.”

Empty seats of the many awardees who boycotted the National Film Awards 2018 ceremony held at the Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi111Empty seats of the many awardees who boycotted the National Film Awards 2018 ceremony held at the Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi

But to have the President’s consent to give away some awards personally and not the rest is just not acceptable.”

“The President has been an integral part of the National Awards functions. Every President has stood there for  three hours personally giving the award to every winner. Look at  the last President Pranab Mukherjee. He  would get tired standing, his feet and  hands would hurt, he’d take a break and continue  giving out the awards to the recipients till the end. That’s what I’ve witnessed at all the National Awards I’ve attended so far. That’s the protocol.”

The absentees
Of the 65 winners who did not accept the awards, the most glaring absence was Parvathy T.K. who won a special jury award for the Malayalam film Take Off.

Kaushik Ganguly, Bengali film directorKaushik Ganguly, Bengali film directorResul PookuttyResul Pookutty

A source from the National Awards committee says, “It was very churlish and childish of those who boycotted the function. Smriti Irani personally pleaded with the President to spare more time for the awards function, but he wouldn’t budge.” Oscar-winning sound designer Resul Pookutty expressed the outrage of the entire technical community in Indian cinema. “The Hon. President mentioned in his speech at the National Awards ceremony that “it is indeed a special moment for each of the 125 Award winners”. I do not know if it was special for all of them but I’m sure it was special for some. The Hon. President also mentioned that there are two lakh people directly and many more indirectly working in the film industry. Most of the people who abstained from the ceremony on Thursday comprised the majority of those two lakh. They are the work force. It is their sweat that earns every state government its entertainment tax. The President crushed the dreams of the backbone of the industry. When the President’s office had given time to hand over the National Award to only 11 members out of the 125, it is those smallest people in the whole spectrum got sidelined!”

Tags: national awards, smriti irani