NEW DELHI: Sri Devi and Vinod Khanna (both posthumous) are amongs tthe eleven selected to receive the National Film Awards directly from President of India Ram Nath Kovind. The others will have to do with Minister Smriti Irani and clearly the disparity has irked with several awardees --at least 80 of them---voicing their displeasure in a letter and describing the decision as a “breach of trust.”

Prasad Devineni, the producer of Baahubali, remarked as reported: "If an award is an award, you can send it by post."And this seems to be the general view with the awardees in tweets and comments making it clear that the National Film Awards were special only because these were given by the President. And now have been reduced to “just an award” discriminating as well between the 11 and the rest.

Most of the awardees got information of this only at a ‘dress rehearsal’ yesterday and decided to pull out. 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 awardees said they had contacted the Minister of Information and Broadcasting for an explanation but having received no response were left with little choice but to write the following letter:

Respected Sir,

We write to you collectively as film makers and artists from various states across our country. We are recipients of the 65th National Film Awards, an honour that we consider as the most eminent token of appreciation and encouragement for our work.

We have been invited for the esteemed ceremony with a letter stating that the awards will be presented by the Hon’ble President of India. We along with our family and friends have been eagerly looking forward to this prestigious moment that merits our tireless work and dedication towards our dreams.

It is only a day before the ceremony that we have learnt through Mr. Chaitanya Prasad that a large segment of the awards will not be presented by the Hon’ble President of India. 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 with a prior notice. It seems unfortunate that 65 years of tradition are being overturned in a jiffy.

We as film makers and artists put in all that we have and tenaciously stick to our dreams in a field of work where appreciation does not come easy. We are disheartened to know that we will be deprived of the honour of this appreciation of a once in a lifetime moment and pride and glory that the National Film Awards had promised us.

The National Film Awards, unlike other awards ceremonies, has been considered as the most pristine and unbiased. We request that the dignity and eminence of this award is maintained and that there is no display of hierarchy at the event. We are disappointed to know that the Hon’ble President will be presenting the Award to just 11 awardees and not the remaining of about 120 of us.

We would like to bring to your notice that we discussed this matter with the Hon’ble I&B Minister last evening and were promised a reply but haven’t heard back from anybody. We are left with no choice but to express our disappointment and convey to you that, at the end of the day, we feel dejected rather than honoured for our work.

In the circumstance of not receiving a response for our grievance, we are left with no option but to be absent for the ceremony. We do not intend to boycott the award, but not attending the ceremony to convey our discontent and are awaiting a more just solution.

The function is scheduled at Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi this evening. And the controversy does not seem to have abated. Perhaps this tweet by the producer of movie "Newton" Manish Mundra,summed up the sentiment: "The whole inherent and intrinsic value of #NationalFilmAwards is due to the fact that it's being given away by (the President). Otherwise it's just one amongst the other many film awards mushrooming across the country! #NationalFilmAwards.”