Amidst agitation among the 137 winners of the National Film Awards this year, the award function witnessed quite a lot of empty seats at the Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi.

Special Correspondent

This was an after effect of the news that President Ram Nath Kovind won't be presenting the National Award to all the 137 winners but only to select 11 of them.

The winners were informed about the same just a day before the ceremony was to be held, i.e., on Wednesday. A majority of the awardees were not present at the National Film Awards 2018 ceremony, which began in the absence of President Kovind.

Most of the awards were presented by Union Minister Smriti Irani, in the presence of Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore. President Kovind made an appearance around 5:30 pm and presented the National Awards to Sridevi, Vinod Khanna, AR Rahman and 8 others, while the rest of the awards had already been presented by Irani.

Late veteran actor Vinod Khanna was honoured with the Dada Saheb Phalke Award for his immense contribution to Indian cinema. His wife Kavita Khanna and son Akshaye Khanna received the award from the President.

Late veteran actress Sridevi was awarded for Best Actor (female) posthumously for her last film Mom. Boney Kapoor, along with daughters Janhvi and Khushi Kapoor received the award from the President of India.

Music maestro AR Rahman received the National Awards for Best Music Director for the songs of the Tamil film Kaatru Veliyidai and for his heart rending background score in the film Mom, from President Kovind.

Riddhi Sen was presented the National Award for Best Actor for his role in Bengali film Nagarkirtan. Best Direction National Award was bagged by the director of Malayalam film Bhayanakam, Jayaraj. The Best Feature Film Award was given to Assamese film Village Rockstars.

In his address to the winners, President Kovind stressed on the importance of cinema in terms of the number of people it employs and the purpose it serves by not just entertaining the masses but also by imparting valuable life-lessons. He said that in our country, films are made in a number of languages but one doesn't need any particular language to understand the medium of cinema.