65th National Film Awards: Despite protests, I&B Minister Smriti Irani felicitates winners

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Irani also hailed the noticeable presence of regional cinema and talent and also drew attention to how over 20 women were honoured at the stage.

The event was planned for all the other or less priority winners to receive the awards from Minister of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Smriti Irani, Minister of State, I&B Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, and the I&B ministry's secretary Narendra Kumar Sinha.

This is the first time in history that a serving President has not been available to present the award. "They said they had spoken to Smriti Irani but hadn't heard back, so "... we are left with no option but to be absent" for the ceremony. The president will arrive after most of the awards have been handed out, will present 11 awards, and then will have a photo-op with the winners in groups of 45, according to a report in the Mumbai Mirror.

Actor Riddhi, the Best Actor victor for the film "Nagarkirtan", will receive the honour from the President. The President's office has reacted sharply to this "11th hour" protest maintaining that President Kovind had set the tradition of allocating only an hour to a function.

The winners of the National Award wrote a letter, which was marked to the Office of the President and Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, and said they were informed about the change in the schedule on Wednesday by Chaitanya Prasad, Additional Director General of the Directorate of Film Festivals.

He added "Sridevi is this year's victor of the Best Female Actor Award and Vinod Khanna has been named for the Dadasaheb Phalke Award for his lifetime contribution".

The award for the late sensational actress, Sridevi was collected by her husband, Boney Kapoor and two of their daughters Janhvi and Khushi for her role in her last film, "Mom". And now have been reduced to "just an award" discriminating as well between the 11 and the rest.

Assamese Film Village Rockstars was awarded for the Best Feature Film.

Actor-director Balachandra Menon too shared his "not-so-happy" experience at the National Awards ceremony. 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. "It's like artistes have been categorized into A and B", said the director. "So, now I need to do films which entertain, definitely, but also give out a small message".

Most of the awardees got information of this only at a "dress rehearsal" yesterday and chose to pull out.

He stressed the need to build on the process and create jobs and opportunities for the creative and talented young people. "President should reconsider as awards presented by the office he represents carries different GRAVITAS". Several filmmakers said the issue involved prestige. Honourable President mentioned in the speech that India-based films have been successful and foreign studios are coming in. "But the moment you bring the Minister Of Information and Broadcasting into the picture, you are politicising the National Film awards", he said.

She expressed happiness that after two decades a film from North East has bagged the best film award.

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