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National awards may be deferred again this year, this time on account of the COVID-19 lockdown

Former jury member Rahul Rawail told a daily that the jury for the awards this year has not yet been constituted.

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Shriram Iyengar

The 67th National awards are likely to be postponed in view of the countrywide lockdown to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. This will be the second time in succession that the annual awards function has been postponed. Last year, the 66th National awards had to be postponed because of the general election.

While there has been no official announcement yet, the lockdown in place means that the awards will not be able to keep up with its usual 3 May date. In addition, last year's jury member, filmmaker Rahul Rawail, revealed that the jury for the awards this year has not yet been constituted.

Speaking to The Hindustan Times newspaper, Rawail said, "The jury itself has not been assembled as yet. And we can’t blame the government, as they are trying to do their best and their priorities are much bigger right now. They can’t do anything until the lockdown is lifted."

In 2019, the awards were postponed owing to the seven-phase general election being held from April through May. This caused the announcement of the awards to be moved to July. Usually, the jury is nominated in the month of April, with the award ceremony being held in May.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced a near-total lockdown across the globe. Several film festivals have already cancelled or postponed their annual schedules causing a disruption in film industries across the world. 

The pandemic has also disrupted film releases for 2020. With some films choosing to go directly on to digital platforms and others shifting their release dates, it will be interesting to see if this affects the nominations for next year's awards.

Rawail suggested in his response to The Hindustan Times that it "won't be fair" to have an awards ceremony next year in view of the cancellations or postponements in film releases this year. The countrywide lockdown in India, imposed on 24 March, is in force till at least 3 May.

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