The 65th National Awards ceremony became the latest controversy as 60 awardees skipped the event in a mass boycott. The boycott was planned after the announcement of President Ram Nath Kovind handing over just 11 awards personally. A petition was circulated for the event’s boycott after the awardees were annoyed for not being able to receive their awards from the hands of the President of India.
“Getting the National Award from the President of India is a huge honor. Any recipient treasures that one photograph with the President for life. We have given a signed petition to the directorate of film festivals stating that we will be absent from the ceremony if the awards aren’t given by the President,” director Indrani Chakraborty, whose Ladakh Chale Rickshawala was named as the Best Exploration/Adventure Film, told the Indian Express.
What was even more surprising is that the seats reserved for the awardees did not remain empty, nor were they occupied by humans. The seats of the absent awardees were occupied by dummies. Name-plates were removed, and people sitting at the back were shifted to the front, and the rest of the seats were filled with dummies. Majority of the awardees who skipped the ceremony did not have their names announced.
The president presented 11 awards, including late actor Sridevi Kapoor’s award for MOM, which was collected by husband Boney Kapoor, and daughters Khushi and Janhvi Kapoor. AR Rehman also received his award for music direction award for Tamil film Kaatru Veliyidai and background music for MOM. Bengali actor Riddhi Sen was presented his award for playing a transgender in Nagakirtan.
Late actor Vinod Khanna’s son Akshaye Khanna collected the Dadasaheb Phalke award on behalf of his father, the highest and most honorable award for cinema. Choreographer Ganesh Acharya received his second national award for his song Latth Maar from Toilet: Ek Prem Katha. Bahubali 2: The Conclusion received an award for best special effects, while Rajkumar Rao’s Newton bagged the best feature film award.