Odisha actor receives National Film Award for Hello Arsi

Among the 11-awards the President gave away were also the two posthumous awards to Sridevi and Vinod Khanna that were collected by their respective families and Best Music Direction to AR Rahman. It was an "emotional and proud moment", Akshaye said. Baahubali-2 received the award for Best Popular Film for Providing Wholesome Entertainment.

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".

Sources said I&B Secretary N K Sinha met President Ram Nath Kovind on May 1 to inform him about the number and categories of the awards he would give. Their films like Lamhe and Mere Apne captured not only the box office but also the minds of the audience.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Kovind said, diversity is the biggest strength of India and Indian films not only express the diversity but also contribute to it. He spoke about the "transformational times for cinema" and how "India is gaining traction as a filmmaking destination". But today, the ceremony is drawing attention for a completely different reason.

All the officials who took to the mike thanked the President for his presence. But with no response forthcoming, many left for the airport.

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"...at the end of the day we feel dejected rather than honoured for our work", the artistes said in an impassioned letter addressed to the President and the government.

That the invitation that had been sent to the awardees had mentioned that they would get the awards from the President lent a poor taste when this simple assertion was violated. They discussed the matter with Smriti Irani the same evening and were promised a reply.

Best Playback Singer awardee Shashaa Tirupati said she was disappointed and felt "terribly disrespected" about not receiving the award from the president, according to IANS.

Hours ahead of the award ceremony, 66 awardees had threatened to boycott it. "It seems unfortunate that 65 years of tradition are being overturned in a jiffy", read the letter, signed by more than 60 filmmakers and artistes from across the country. The National Award is our nation's highest recognition; getting recognition from the President's hand is our privilege, our honour and our dream!

The Narendra Modi government and the office of the President deserve to do some soul-searching for the way they treated the bulk of the awardees of the 65th National Film Awards this time around. "If not the President the awards should have been given by the Vice-President". You can't invite them to receive the President's award and then have them receive the award from someone else. Nothing would have been possible without Kaushik kaku, who gave me this role of a transgender in Nagarkirtan and all that happened to the National Award winners was unforgivable.

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