Actor Anupam Kher and filmmakers Madhur Bhandarkar and Ashoke Pandit are among those who have called the step 'disrespectful'.
Mr Bhandarkar, a National Award-winning filmmaker, said that returning an award was 'not only an insult to the honour' but to 'one's craft' as well.
In my view giving away the National Award is a disrespect to 1self & also 2 the actors, technicians,audience, jury members, & Hon. President- Madhur Bhandarkar (@imbhandarkar) October 29, 2015
Just wondering, ppl who r returning awards will thy not accept any appreciation or award 4 their work while Modi Govt is in power till 2019?- Madhur Bhandarkar (@imbhandarkar) October 29, 2015
Besides Dibakar Banerjee and Anand Patwardhan, the filmmakers who returned the awards on Wednesday include Paresh Kamdar, Nishtha Jain, Kirti Nakhwa, Harshavardhan Kulkarni, Hari Nair, Rakesh Sharma, Indraneel Lahiri and Lipika Singh Darai.
Mr Pandit slammed the filmmakers in a series of tweets and also extended his support to the agitating Film and Television Institute of India students in Pune.
Who funded filmmakers like#RakeshSharma #AnandPatwardhan s foreign trips regularly during the UPA rule?A matter of investigation.- Ashoke Pandit (@ashokepandit) October 29, 2015
Buddha In A Traffic Jam director Vivek Agnihotri criticised the move, saying that the filmmakers had 'already exploited' the honour to their advantage.
India is the first and the only country where people don't refuse awards but return awards after milking them to their advantage.? Vivek Agnihotri (@vivekagnihotri) October 29, 2015
Anupam Kher wrote:
The move by select filmmakers happened hours after three prominent alumni of the Film and Television Institute of Indiaannounced that they would return their National Awards to protest 'an atmosphere of intolerance' in the country in the last few months.