MUMBAI: Shatrughan Sinha has the unique advantage of being common to both cinema and politics. Therefore, he shares the distress of the National Film Award winners who boycotted the function due to the limited presence of President Ram Nath Kovind.
Sinha said: "What happened is very unfortunate and totally avoidable. I know the President personally. He used to be the Governor of Bihar and a fine human being. I am sure he didn't mean to hurt anyone's sentiments. Unfortunately, because of some miscommunication, lots of sentiments were hurt.
"This should not happen. The artistes of our country are the pride of the nation. You can't invite them to receive the President's Award and then have them receiving the award from someone else's hands."
Not that Shatrughan has any misgivings about Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani giving out the National Awards.
"She is a worthy member of the BJP. However, these are the President's Awards. They cannot be given by anyone but the President. And then some of the supposedly more special award recipients were handpicked for the President to personally give the awards.
"With due respect to the 10-11 specially-chosen recipients, every recipient of the National Award is equally special. It's like you invite guests for dinner and serve two kinds of food to two sections of the invitees."
While placing no blame on the President, he wonders why the President couldn't spare ample time to give the awards to everyone.
"Every President, including the lady Pratibha Patil, has patiently given the award to each and every winner. Why this break from tradition? And what pressing engagement could possibly call the President away from the glorious task of honouring the best artistes of our country?"