Singer Shashaa Tirupati is one of the National Film Award winners who will not be handed over the prestigious honour by President Ram Nath Kovind here on Thursday. She says she feels "terribly disrespected" and that the thrill is now gone.
The 65th National Film Awards ceremony, where 137 awardees will be felicitated, will take place here later on Thursday. But not many are excited about it as they were when the winners' list came out last month.
Shashaa bagged the best female playback singer for Vaan varuvaan from Kaatru Veliyidai, directed by Mani Ratnam. Its composer A.R. Rahman also won the music direction National Award for the Tamil film.
"Yeah, but not from the President. There are only 11 people who are going to get awards from the President," Shashaa told IANS.
"Dude, let's not talk about it. I feel terribly disrespected right now," she said.
"It's like the thrill of it is gone now. I was so excited. My father was going to fly down from Vancouver. I am thanking my stars that he didn't. It would have been such an embarrassment because he would have flown down to see me getting the award from the President.
"National Awards and the President go hand-in-hand. For 64 years, they have been given by the President. When you speak of the National Award, automatically people visualise the President handing over the award to the recipient."
What makes it more "disappointing" for her is that the recipients were told about this "when every one was here and families had left or reached Delhi".
"There was not enough time to intimate them. We come here to get the award from the President and not from another government official. The letter that we received clearly stated that the award will be presented to us by the President of India.
"When something contrary happens, you kind of lose hope in the system. Accepting it would mean, you are okay with anything basically... You don't know what to believe in and what not to," said the singer, who is accompanied by her mother.
"She is very upset," said the Phir bhi tumko chaahunga hitmaker.
What about performing at the awards ceremony?
"No, I am not. I don't think anyone is performing. They are saying it is going to be a very rushed thing. The President has got an hour in which he will be presenting those 11 awards. I don't think they have time for anything," she said.
But how has this victory changed people's attitude towards her?
"By God's grace, I have always been treated with a lot of respect. That continues and of course, there are a lot of people talking now because it is the National Award. I am blessed that it happened... an award of this stature was given to me for a song that's in a language that I don't speak," said the singer, who has roots in Kashmir and was staying Canada before moving to Mumbai six years ago.
"And also because it comes from Mani Ratnam and A.R. Rahman - the iconic and legendary combo so. it takes me back to the early 90s when the two worked together in Roja and Bombay."
So more offers?
"The work flow has been always steady and that's how it continues. I am singing for sure. I am also getting offers for acting and endorsements. My opportunities are broadening," she said.