In the last decade, the number of award functions for honoring shoddy Bollywood movies and catering to star fantasies of holding any inane trophy has reached an alarming crescendo. You flip one channel and there is an award function going on where SRK is doing a gig. Flip again and lo! There he is again. So much that we have stopped caring which award function we are watching. Some actress is moving her hips wildly (dancing) with a hundred sweaty half-naked men around her. Someone is getting a weird looking trophy shaped like a sex toy and is misty eyed. If you sum it up, everyone in the industry gets at least one award each year. Everyone is happy. The supply in unfortunately and alarmingly greater than the deservers.
I don’t have a problem with all the needless awards. It gives the actors a relief from the obtuse films they are doing. It’s a mammoth PR activity for all the Toms, Dicks and Harrys who are organizing them. The nation gets to see stars making fun of each other and achieve nirvana in the process. And we all get the proof of how good an actor Amitabh Bachchan is by seeing his expressionless face every time Rekha appears on the stage. Again and again and again.
But I have a problem with a perticular award which regrettably is also the oldest one. Filmfare.
Back in the 90s when I started getting a beard and getting interested in Bollywood at the same time, Filmfare was the only award functioning in all its glory. All the actors would fall over each other every year to get one trophy. It was considered an achievement. No wonder they were called the Indian Oscars. And it was during the 90s, when the problem started. Suddenly mediocrity was in. Sometimes the nominations were baffling.
- 1984 Naseeruddin Shah – Masoom as D. K. Malhotra
And then this:
- 1996 Shahrukh Khan – Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge as Raj Malhotra
- 2012 Ranbir Kapoor – Rockstaras Janardan Jhakhar / Jordan
Do you see the corruption, the decay that has seeped in? I do not have a problem with Ranbir Kapoor winning the award. He deserved it but the nominations were truly WTF! Ajay Devgan, Salman Khan and SRK had no business being in the 2012 list. The movies for which they were nominated were big blockbuster craps and their acting in them was equally garish. Similarly for 1996, I could not understand what Govinda and Salman were doing in the nominations. How could India’s oldest award fall to such apathy? How could Filmfare, which nominated Om Puri for Ardha Satya could possibly nominate Salman Khan for Bodyguard? If this is not playing to the tunes of stardom, then I don’t know what is!
Looking at the nomination list might give you a feeling that most of them are just fillers because nothing better is available. Nothing can be far from the truth. Dhobi Ghat, Yeh Saali Zindagi, Memories in March, Shor in the City, I Am, Shaitan, I Am Kalam, That Girl in Yellow Boots, Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster were the movies which deserved a wider appreciation but were royally mistreated. Some of them were given a few nominations here and there but a majority of them were sidelined.
Being the oldest and the most respected award comes with a responsibility – to promote talent, to promote directors who dare to be different and do not turn into money making machines. Filmfare would have taken up this responsibility. Instead they use “Critics” award category so that the stars could be kept happy. And that is how Dabangg got the best movie award in 2011 instead of Udaan which was given the “Critics” awards. It was like saying – Look! We know Udaan is much superior but sorry we prefer giving awards to movies in which the hero rips off his shirt by expanding his muscles. So, better luck next time! There are numerous examples from the last decade where mediocre and puke-worthy films and performances have been nominated.
Yes, common man votes for these awards. Its 50% people’s choice and 50% Jury’s choice and that is how it has been since the 1950s. But the whole idea of a movie award is to give recognition to the best movies of the year, movies which had some substance in them, movies which were created for the love of the art and not just for churning cash. If the votes coming in each year are not at par and are actually a threat to good cinema, would it not be a good idea to abolish the practice and let only the jury decide?
I stopped watching telecast of Filmfare awards ten years back. I want to see Filmfare Awards honour movies that matter, to recognise performances instead of stars, to recognise art instead of commercial success.
I hope one day I will be able to watch the ceremony without flinching.