In a letter to President Ram Nath Kovind on Thursday, 69 of the 80 winners of the 65th National Film Awards have said that they would not attend the awards after they were told that the president would only present the awards to 11 people.
The awards are going to be presented this evening.
The recipients said in the letter that they were disappointed that after speaking to Information and Broadcast Minister Smriti Irani, they were assured that they would get a reply, but did not receive any.
It said, "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".
"We do not intend to boycott the award, but are not attending the ceremony to convey our discontent and are waiting a more just solution," the letter said.
Reacting to the protests, Rashtrapati Bhavan has expressed suprise.
Marathi film director Prasad Oak told ANI:
After reports emerged that President Kovind will be giving away only 11 awards. National Award winning Marathi film director Prakash Oak says, ' We feel insulted, 75 awardees are threatening to boycott the award ceremony today.' pic.twitter.com/GJTOwcAqVr— ANI (@ANI) May 3, 2018
Ashok Malik, press secretary to the president, was quoted by PTI as saying, "President attends all award functions and convocations for a maximum of one hour. This has been the protocol since he took office. It was conveyed to Information and Broadcasting Ministry several weeks ago and the ministry knew this all along. Rashtrapati Bhavan is surprised by the 11th hour questions that have been raised."
According to an unnamed source quoted by Hindustan Times, Smriti Irani had met few of the recipients of the awards at Vigyan Bhawan on Wednesday to speak to them after they expressed disappointment.
The newspaper reported that the recipients were told about the issue on Wednesday during rehearsals.