"We were all there waiting in the lobby, dressed up and excited about our film being honoured".
After the dress rehearsal yesterday, I&B minister Smriti Irani tried to pacify the awardees, saying she will cut down the time for her speech so that more awardees can receive the award from the President, but that hasn't proved to be reassuring. "More than just box office successes, they tugged at our hearts and captured our emotions". These positions are beyond politics.
Traditionally the awards are presented by the President: so they deemed the ones to be handed over by the I&B minister and her minister of state to be of a lower category, which they perceived as insulting. National Awards and the President go hand-in-hand.
Shashaa is, however, quick to add that she has huge respect for Smriti Zubin Irani.
"But to have the President's consent to give away some awards personally and not the rest is just not acceptable". Yet, the National Awards have always cut through the clutter and been considered awards of high honour, perhaps more than all other film awards, given that the President usually confers it himself. This is what she's got after working for 50 years in the industry; she would have cherished this award all her life. Look at the last President Pranab Mukherjee. "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". "That's what I've witnessed at all the National awards I've attended so far.That's the protocol".
Sinha said: "What happened is very unfortunate and totally avoidable". The artistes of our country are the pride of the nation. "This is in violation of the convention followed for 64 years, since the first National Awards were held", one of the awardees told Outlook. I could've given it a miss, but I could not let down my parents, and jury members who found me worthy of the honour. They can not be given by anyone but the President. Any recipient treasures that one photograph with the President for life.
The ceremony on Thursday was divided into two sections. Many artistes from Malayalam filmdom, who won maximum number of awards, made a decision to skip the ceremony.
Asked whether the artists will accept the award if it was sent to them, they said they would, adding that they respect the National Award. However, they clarified that this does not mean that they are refusing the award.
Oscar-winning sound artiste Resul Pookutty, among others, took to social media to express his dissent.
The President will hand over the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, Nargis Dutt Award for Feature Films on National Integration, Best Book on Cinema, Best Direction (non-feature film), Best Jasari Film, Best Male Playback Singer, Best Music Direction (songs and background music), Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Direction (feature film), Best Feature Film and Best Editing. I do not know if it was special for all of them but I'm sure it was special for some of them. We felt bad because when your good office chose from the bottom of the list it was only the stars and star elements who got picked, or those 11 people could have been the young, and first-time, awardees.