Pinarayi govt belittling Kerala’s cultural landscape: Ramesh Chennithala on Film awards controversy

Producer G Sureshkumar and many others criticised the CM and the state government for reportedly disrespecting the award winners
Suraj Venjarumoodu collecting the award from the table
Suraj Venjarumoodu collecting the award from the table

Controversies have followed the state government soon after the award presentation ceremony of the State Film Awards yesterday at Tagore Theatre in Thiruvananthapuram. Film producer and former producer of the Kerala Film Producers’ Association president G Sureshkumar has hit out against Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and the state government over their allegedly problematic following of the Covid protocol.

The producer claimed that the state government and the CM have disrespected the award winners by leaving the award on the table rather than personally handing it out to the winners. The government replied that such an action was to avoid Covid transmission, but the producers asked as to why they CM didn’t use gloves since it would have been a simpler process. He added that such behaviour hasn’t even been followed during the king’s rule.

Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala criticised Pinarayi Vijayan over the issues at the event. “By turning the award event into a venue to disrespect the artistes, Pinarayi Vijayan’s government is belittling Kerala’s cultural landscape,” he said. “If concern for Covid transmission was the issue then he could have sent the awards via mail, or used gloves and sanitisers, and it would have been a simple affair. Instead, placing the awards on the table like buffet food seems to be very disrespectful, especially considering how it wasn’t done at the State Television awards event.”

This year, reportedly owing to the pandemic, the award was left on the table, which was collected by the winners, and they would pose with the ministers for a photo session. Sureshkumar mentioned that the CM could have used gloves or allowed other ministers to hand over the awards. “It would have been better to send the awards to everyone’s homes and it wouldn’t have disrespected the people who came to collect the award from the Chief Minister. However, it was disappointing that nobody opened up about it despite feeling disrespected,” he added.

CM Pinarayi Vijayan unveiling the stamp commemorating the 25th year for IFFK
CM Pinarayi Vijayan unveiling the stamp commemorating the 25th year for IFFK

A few others have also shared similar notes. They have pointed out that the same Covid-induced procedure was not seen in the state television awards ceremony, and the same was not evident from the release of the stamp celebrating the 25th year of the International Film Festival of Kerala at the event on Friday. They also added that the concern, the minister showed at the stage in regards to the transmission of the virus, was not exactly clear when he was handling the podium, which others have also handled at the same event. Sureshkumar mentioned that it was good that Hariharan had not arrived to collect his JC Daniel Award, seeing as how the minister was not even willing to hand over something as important as that. It would have been very disrespectful to the director, the producer added.

Meanwhile, Kerala State Chalachitra Academy chairman Kamal was seen handing over plaques to the winners while wearing gloves. Moreover, there were certain confusions regarding the award distribution during and after the CM Pinarayi Vijayan’s speech, which Kamal had to finalise at the event. Moreover, there were almost a dozen members on the same podium alongside the CM, most of who were not wearing gloves. However, none of these seemed to be a problem for the minister.

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