The artists and filmmakers have said, "It seems unfortunate that 65 years of tradition are being overturned in a jiffy."

Wont attend National Awards ceremony Full text of artists letter to PresidentCourtesy: PTI
news National Awards Thursday, May 03, 2018 - 13:38

Several of the recipients of the 65th National Film Awards, scheduled to take place at Vigyan Bhavan, New Delhi, on Thursday have signed a joint statement announcing their intention to boycott the award ceremony.

The reason is that President Ram Nath Kovind will be presenting only 11 out of the 140 awards, going against protocol and tradition. The awardees were reportedly informed only on Wednesday during rehearsals that the President will not be presenting all the awards.

TNM has accessed a copy of the letter addressed to Chaitanya Prasad, Additional Director General, Directorate of Film Festivals, with a copy to the office of the President of India and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. The artists and filmmakers have said, "It seems unfortunate that 65 years of tradition are being overturned in a jiffy." 

Adding that appreciation does not come easy in the film field, they have said that they are disheartened to know that they will be deprived of the "once in a lifetime moment of pride and joy." Noting that they had asked the I&B Minister Smriti Irani for a response but that they had received none, the artists and filmmakers have asserted that they feel dejected. They've further made it clear that they are not boycotting the award itself but that they were forced to boycott the ceremony.

The letter has been signed by 69 artists and filmmakers. Those who have signed include Dileesh Pothan, director of Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum, and Fahadh Faasil who won Best Supporting Actor for the same film which won multiple awards. Jayaraj, the recipient of the Best Director Award for Bhayanakam has also signed the statement. The film won three awards for direction, adapted screenplay and cinematography.

Actor Parvathy, who won a Special Mention for her performance in Take Off, has also signed the statement. Others who have signed include the co-producer of Baahubali 2, Prasad Devineni, and RC Kamalakannan, who has won for the VFX of the same film, and director of the Tamil film To Let, Chezhiyan. Four members who worked on the film Mhorkya, including the director, have also petitioned the Directorate of Film Festivals.

Read the full text here:

Respected Sir,

We write to you collectively as film makers and artists from various states across our country. 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.

We have been invited for the esteemed ceremony with a letter stating that the awards will be presented by the Hon’ble President of India. We along with our family and friends have been eagerly looking forward to this prestigious moment that merits our tireless work and dedication towards our dreams.

It is only a day before the ceremony that we have learnt through Mr. Chaitanya Prasad that a large segment of the awards will not be presented by the Hon’ble 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.

We as film makers and artists put in all that we have and tenaciously stick to our dreams in a field of work where appreciation does not come easy. We are disheartened to know that we will be deprived of the honour of this appreciation of a once in a lifetime moment and pride and glory that the National Film Awards had promised us.

The National Film Awards, unlike other awards ceremonies, has been considered as the most pristine and unbiased. We request that the dignity and eminence of this award is maintained and that there is no display of hierarchy at the event. 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.

We would like to bring to your notice that we discussed this matter with the Hon’ble I&B Minister last evening and were promised a reply but haven’t heard back from anybody. We are left with no choice but to express our disappointment and convey to you that, at the end of the day, we feel dejected rather than honoured for our work.

In the circumstance of not receiving a response for our grievance, we are left with no option but to be absent for the ceremony. We do not intend to boycott the award, but not attending the ceremony to convey our discontent and are awaiting a more just solution.