President Ram Nath Kovind will reportedly be handing out only 11 awards out of the total 140 at the National Film Awards ceremony that is scheduled to take place in Delhi on Thursday. The awardees came to know about this at the rehearsals held on Wednesday, and several of them were allegedly upset about the news.
According to reports, the awardees have threatened to boycott the ceremony because of the change in the 64-year-old tradition. Most of the awards, reports say, will be handed out between 3.30 and 5.30 pm by Information & Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani, Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore and Narendra Kumar Sinha, Secretary, Information & Broadcasting.
The President will arrive only at 5.30 pm, after a majority of the awards have been given. The winners will also be taking photographs with the President in groups of 45. The winners were reportedly informed that the President can spare only an hour for the ceremony.
Several people have slammed the move, pointing out that the partisanship is uncalled for and that it's insulting to the other awardees. However, so far, no official statement has come from the organisers or the awardees. One of the winners has told TNM that they are contemplating what action to take. As of now, 76 of the awardees have signed a statement saying they will need to know why there is a change in the tradition or that they will skip the event.
Established in 1954, the National Awards are given out at the Vigyan Bhavan, New Delhi, every year. This year, Malayalam films had reaped a rich harvest at the awards, with jury chairperson Shekhar Kapur noting that the quality of regional cinema was exceptional. Among the awardees are Fahadh Faasil for Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum and Parvathy for Take Off. Telugu film Baahubali: The Conclusion also fared well. Late actor Sridevi, who was posthumously awarded Best Actor for Mom, a revenge thriller, will be represented by her daughters Janhvi and Kushi.