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We Checked... The President ALWAYS Gives ALL National Film Awards!

The winners were told that I&B Ministers Smriti Irani and Rajyavardhan Rathore would present the remaining awards.

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President Ram Nath Kovind confers the Best Music Direction Award on AR Rahman during the 65th National Film Awards function at Vigyan Bhavan on Thursday,  one of the 11 awards that President Kovind gave. 
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Over 70 National Film Award winners protested against the 65th National Film Awards after they were informed that President Ram Nath Kovind would only present the awards to winners in 11 categories, as opposed to the convention of the President presenting the awards to winners in all categories.

Barring the winners in those 11 categories, all others received their awards from Information & Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani and MoS Rajyavardhan Rathore.

Winning a National award is a dream come true. But President Kovind’s decision to only present 11 awards feels like an insult to my art and the hard work I put in. 
Prakash Oak, National Award winner (Best Marathi film)
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The fact that the award winners were informed of this unusual change in convention only a day before the ceremony, during rehearsals, did little to contain their outrage.

But Has the President Always Given the National Film Awards?

Let’s take a look.

2017

That’s then-President Pranab Mukherjee, presenting the awards to all the recipients of the National Film Awards in 2017.

2016

That’s President Pranab Mukherjee again, presenting the awards to all the winners at the 63rd National Film Awards.

2015

Again.

2014

And again.

2013

Once again, ladies and gentlemen, the President of India.

However, there have been exceptional instances where someone other than the President gave away the National Film Awards. In 2012, Vice President Hamid Ansari gave the awards away instead of then-President Pratibha Patil since her term was about to end, and she was on vacation.

Additionally, the Governor of Maharashtra, PV Cherian, gave away the awards at the National Film Awards in 1965.

Is the Outrage an Overreaction?

The President of India has given the awards to the winners of the National Film Awards, to all the recipients, since the creation of the awards in 1954, with very few exceptions.

It feels like a breach of trust when an institution/ceremony that abides by extreme protocol fails to inform us of such a vital aspect of the ceremony without prior notice. It seems unfortunate that 65 years of tradition are being overturned in a jiffy.
Excerpt from a letter to the Directorate of Film Festival, by the award winners 
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The letter from over 70 winners to the Additional Director General, Directorate of Film Festival says that “65 years of tradition” have been overturned with little notice, leaving them upset.

Additionally, a quick look at the website of the Directorate of Film Festivals explains the significance of the awards, which began in 1954.

The National Awards along with cinema’s highest honour, Dadasaheb Phalke award, are presented by the President of India in a solemn function in the presence of the Union Minister of Information and Broadcasting, Chairpersons of the three juries, representatives of Film Federation of India and Confederation of All India Cine Employees and senior officials.
From the website of The Directorate of Film Festivals

You can see a screenshot of the website below:

The <a href="http://dff.nic.in/NFA.aspx">Directorate of Film Festivals</a> explains the significance that the National Film Awards hold.
The Directorate of Film Festivals explains the significance that the National Film Awards hold.
(Photo Courtesy: Screengrab of Directorate of Film Festivals)

So why the sudden change in convention that’s continued for 65 years? And why convey this to award winners just a day before the ceremony?

(This story was updated on 8 May to reflect the instances in the past where the President could not give away all the awards)

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