In a Facebook post, the sound designer said the President’s selective handing out of National Awards was a ‘raw deal’ for film technicians.

This is the sentiments of an ordinary technician working in the Indian Film Industry.

The honourable President mentioned in his speech at the National Award Ceremony that, “it is indeed a special moment for each of the 125 Award winners.” I do not know if it was special for all of them but I’m sure it was special for some of them. The honourable President also mentioned that there are 200,000 people directly and many more indirectly working in the film industry. Yes, that is true, most of the people who abstained from the ceremony yesterday consists of the majority of that 200,000.

They are the workforce, they work behind the camera, carry heavy lights and heavy equipment, swing booms, push trolleys, and work more than 18 hours a day. It is their sweat that earns every state government its entertainment tax – UP charges the highest 60 per cent, in addition to the GST of 18 per cent, though we are strictly not a service industry. So, in effect, we became the highest taxed industry.

When your good office had given time to hand over the National Award to only 11 members out of the 125, its those smallest people in the whole spectrum got sidelined. Their aspirations and ambition got crushed. The honourable President mentioned in the speech that India-based films have been successful so foreign studios are coming in, we must encourage every opportunity to celebrate our values.

But the real people who put India’s name in the international map of world cinema are those technical force. Starting with V. Santharam who got recognized for Best Sound at Cannes in the early 50’s, Bhanu Athaiya who brought the first competitive Oscar to India to Santhosh Sivan who got recognized by the American Society Of Cinematographers to Resul Pookutty who got Asia’s first technical Oscar for Sound and many more, such exemplary examples exist in our filmic conscience.

When your good office chose the last 11 from the list of 125, it is these extraordinary small people who got left out in the national recognition. We learned from news that the President’s office was too busy and couldn’t have allowed more than one hour. We could have been called back on another day. We would have come back at our own expenditure, in trains or buses, would have stayed in the cheapest lodge to avoid extra burden of repeat call for @MIB, after all, we are used to travelling in trains and buses while our stars travel by first class flights, to save production money.

We wouldn’t have felt bad. We felt bad because when your good office chose from the bottom of the list it was only the stars and star elements who got picked, or those 11 people could have been the young, and first-time, awardees. We would have clapped in joy at Your choice but we felt bad because the people who got left out were those raw people, the technicians who are always called first in every award ceremony and edited out in every TV show.

Stars don’t care about us, business doesn’t care about us, and we thought our nation would care for us. The National Award is our nation’s highest recognition, being recognised at the honourable President’s hand is our privilege, our honour and our dream but I felt the nation’s sentiment got left out in the choices that were made yesterday, for it is the technicians who always get the raw deal.

I plead your forgiveness, for if I have mentioned anything out of line, after all I’m one of those sentimental ordinary Indian film technicians.

REsul Pookutty is a successful sound designer who won Best Sound Mixing for Slumdog Millionaire at the Academy Awards.

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