I support the winners who boycotted the National Awards, but I also feel that you can’t take away the inherent value of awards by external factors
On May 2, all of us who were going to receive the 65th National Film Awards the following day from the President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind, were rehearsing, when an announcement was made before us.
We were told that 11 awards would be presented by the President and the remaining awards would be presented by the Information & Broadcasting minister, Shrimati Smriti Irani and the minister of state, Shri Rajyavardhan Rathode.
The rehearsal is a general briefing given to the winners on the order of announcement and other details of the main function.
The announcement stunned everyone into silence – it was a break from a tradition of 64 years. And it wasn’t long before the winners realised that most of them were all thinking alike. It is such a prestigious award and we were all there to receive it from the President. Everyone was angry and upset. Many had decided right then that they would boycott the programme.
I had no technical ground to do so because I was among the 11 winners who would receive the honour from the President. And boycotting it would mean disrespecting the President.
The director of my film, Nagarkirtan (for which I won the National Award for Best Actor) Kaushik Ganguly, asked me to go ahead and receive the award. He and the director of Mayurakshi, Atanu Ghosh, have both boycotted the programme. Nagar Kirtan won a Special Jury award, Best Make-Up Artist award and Best Costume award. Mayurakshi won the award for the best regional film (Bengali).
I do support the boycott wholeheartedly. Yet, I feel the need to also say that the National Award doesn’t become any less valuable if someone other than the President presents it to you. This has been an amazing year for regional films. Shekhar Kapur heads the jury this time, and the entire jury has worked very hard to select the winners.
Nagarkirtan is a film on transgenders and so many people in our country still have such negative feelings about them. Newton is film that criticises the government. There is a film from Lakshadweep that was awarded – it is rare that a film from Lakshadweep has won a National Award. The government has nothing to do with the selection of the awards, it has been done by a very competent jury.
Therefore, I have mixed feeling about this. While I do agree with the decision of those who have boycotted it because it is truly disappointing to not receive it from the President, I also think that you cannot take away the inherent value of a prestigious awards due to such factors.