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National Awards Row: Resul Pookutty Slams President Kovind, Rashtrapati Bhavan Blames I&B Ministry

Close to 55 filmmakers skipped awards function.

The National Awards ceremony was in news for all the wrong reasons this year. Many awardees expressed their unhappiness after it was announced that President Ram Nath Kovind will give awards only to 11 awardees, and Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani will hand over the honours to the other artistes. Irked with the turn of events, Oscar-winning sound artiste Resul Pookutty came down heavily on President Kovind for being selective in awarding artistes during the 65th National Film Awards. The Rashtrapati Bhavan asserted that Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B Ministry) “mismanaged” the situation.

In a long Facebook Post, Pookutty criticised the President for being partial in awarding only 11 out of the total 137 awardees at the ceremony held at Delhi’s Vigyan Bhawan on Thursday.

A National Award winner himself, Pookutty said, “When your good office had given time to hand over the National Award to only 11 members, it is those smallest people in the whole spectrum (who) got sidelined!”

Slamming the Central government for its insensitive attitude towards the country’s top artistes, he had earlier tweeted, “If the government of India cannot earmark three hours of its time, they should not bother giving us National Awards. More than 50 per cent of our sweat, you take it as entertainment tax, the least you could do is respect the values we hold dear.”

According to different media reports, as many as 60 of the 80 film personalities who signed a petition calling for a boycott of National Film Awards did not turn up for the event after it became clear that the President will be giving the awards to only 11 artistes and others will be given awards by the ministers.

Filmmaker Rahul Dholakia, who made Shah Rukh Khan-starrer Raees and acclaimed film Perzania, based on Gujarat riots, also took to Twitter to express his anger. “One of the reasons the National Film Awards are prestigious is because they are handed by the @rashtrapatibhvn – not a minister. This is a moment of a lifetime for filmmakers; please don’t deprive them of their merit/glory #NationalFilmAwards @smritiirani @Ra_THORe,” he wrote.

Ashwini Choudhary, who directed the critically acclaimed 2003 film Dhoop, also expressed his anger in a series of tweets.

“I think it is happening for the first time in 65 years that awardees of #NationalFilmAwards won’t be felicitated by @rashtrapatibhvn. Only 11 out of 141 will get awards from the President. This is how the best of Indian Cinema is being treated.#Sad,” Choudhary wrote.

“The Indian Film Industry should come out in open and take a stand against the humiliation of National Film Awardees who are going to skip the award ceremony today. Dark day in the history of #NationalFilmAwards. Just heard on a News Channel that #RashtrapatiBhawan has conveyed that The President can’t attend any event for more than an hour. So 26 January parade this year will be a one hour event #Justasking,” he added.

Director Hansal Mehta told The Indian Express, “It’s extremely disappointing. It’s unfair. Not to undermine any Minister but it’s the biggest recognition that an artiste gets from his or her nation and it’s given by the President. These winners had already reached Delhi and they were in the middle of their rehearsals when they were informed. That’s humiliating.”

Close to 55 filmmakers skipped the awards function. Sixty-two awardees signed a letter in protest for the President’s selective approach and threatened to boycott the event. According to a news portal, in a letter addressed to Chaitanya Prasad, Additional Director General Directorate of Film Festivals, the awardees wrote about being informed about the change just “a day prior to the event” and called it “a breach of trust”. The letter states: “We are disheartened to know that we will be deprived of this honour of appreciation of a once in a lifetime moment of pride and glory that the National Film has offered us.”

Besides, those who skipped the event, there were others, like singer Yesudas, filmmaker Jayaraj and others who signed the petition but showed up at the National Film Awards.

The President awarded Sridevi’s family her Best Actress Award, Vinod Khanna’s family his Dada Saheb Phalke Award, Yesudas for best playback singer, AR Rahman for best music and awards in seven other categories.

According to sources, Rashtrapati Bhavan had decided that it was not possible for the President to award “30-40 awards at one function.” The President, therefore, decided only to give major awards.

The Rashtrapati Bhavan has conveyed to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) its displeasure at the manner in which the President’s office was dragged into the controversy. It sees as mismanagement on the part of the ministry of information and broadcasting (MIB), said two senior government officials.

HERE IS THE FULL LIST OF WINNERS:

Dada Saheb Phalke Award: Vinod Khanna

Best Director: Jayaraj for Bhayanakam (Malayalam)

Best Feature Film: Village Rockstars (Assamese)

Best Actor: Ridhhi Sen for Nagar Kirtan (Bengali)

Best Actress: Sridevi for Mom (Hindi)

Best Supporting Actor: Fahadh Faasil for Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum (Malayalam)

Best supporting actress: Divya Dutta for Irada (Hindi)

Best Action Direction: Baahubali 2 (Telugu)

Best Choreography: Ganesh Acharya for Toilet Ek Prem Katha

Best Film for National Integration: Dhappa (Marathi)

Best Popular Film: Baahubali 2(Telugu)

Best Debut Film of a Director: Pampally for Sinjar (Jasari)

Best Film on Social Issues: Aalorukkam (Malayalam)

Best Child artist: Bhanita Das  for Village Rockstars (Assamese)

Best Children’s Film: Mhorkya (Marathi)

Best Cinematography: Nikhil S Praveen for Bhayanakam(Malayalam)

Best Special Effects: Baahubali 2 (Telugu)

Special Jury Award: Nagar Kirtan (Bengali)

Best Film Critic: Giridhar Jha

Special Mention for Film Criticism: Sunil Mishra of Madhya Pradesh

Best Film on Environment Conservation/Preservation: Irada (Hindi)

SPECIAL MENTION:

Mhorkya (Marathi)

Hello RC (Odiya)

Malayalam actor Parvathy for Take Off (Malayalam)

Pankaj Tripathi for Newton (Hindi)

BEST REGIONAL FILMS:

Kaccha Limbu (Marathi)

Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum (Malayalam)

Newton (Hindi)

Mayurakshi (Bengali)

Ishu (Assamese)

To Let (Tamil)

Gazi (Telugu)

DHH (Gujarati)

Hebbettu Ramakka (Kannada)

Sinjar (Jasari)

Hello Arsi (Odiya)

Walking With The Wind (Ladakhi)

Paddayi (Tulu)

MUSIC:

Best Lyrics: Muthu Ratna for March 22 (Kannada)

Best Music Direction (Songs): A.R. Rahman for Kaatru Veliyidai (Tamil)

Best Music Direction (Background score): A.R. Rahman for Mom (Hindu)

Best Location Sound Recordist: Mallika Das, Village Rockstar (Assamese)

Best Sound Design: Walking With The Wind (Ladakhi)

Best Female Playback Singer: Shasha Tirupati for Vaan Varuvaan from Kaatru Veliyidai (Tamil)

Best Male Playback Singer: Yesudas for Poy Maranja KalamfromViswasapoorva M Mansoor (Malayalam)

PRODUCTION:

Best Make-Up Artist: Ram Razak for Nagar Kirtan (Bengali)

Best Production Design: Santosh Rajan for Take off (Malayalam)

Best Editing: Reema Das for Village Rockstar (Assamese)

Best Costume: Gobinda Mandal for Nagar Kirtan (Bengali)

SCREENPLAY:

Best Original Screenplay: Sajeev Pazhoor forThondimuthalum Driksakshiyum (Malayalam)

Best Adapted Screenplay: Jairaj for Bhayankam (Malayalam)

Best Dialogues: Sambit Mohanty for Hello Arsi (Odiya)

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