Can you be fair Filmfare?

Katrina – I don’t care which award function this is. I just have to move my hips.

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.

Sample this:

And then this:

Vyajanthimala – after she heard that Katrina was nominated for Filmfare award for Best actress.

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.

[images from 1,2,3]

34 comments on “Can you be fair Filmfare?

  1. totally agree with you… there was no logic to nominating the Sks for Don and Bodyguard… films like Yeh Saali Zindagi, SHaitan and Sahib,Biwi aur Gangster were so much better.. the acting felt so natural and in sync. Do you feel there is any Indian award show which really gives awards for actors who deserve them ? It’s a honest question… because I stopped believing the year Saif Ali Khan got the National Award for Hum Tum…

    • I think the last good movie for which SRK was nominated was Chak De India. I really do not understand why it is important to nominate him every year.
      I do not think any award is serious about quality cinema. Its more of PR stunts and earning as much as possible.

    • They can keep giving each other useless awards but surely they know in their hearts if their acting / directing etc is deserving or not. And thanks for the names of all those movies. When I go to the video library I feel lost. Now, I’ll be armed with a list.

      • It’s like you-scratch-my-back-i’ll-scratch-yours. And they really don’t care about good cinema. It’s all about good PR.
        Sure, please watch all these movies. These are some of the good movies which were ignored.

  2. I m so glad u wrote this. Like you said, I was appalled to see some of the nominations given there…. No one deserved to be on that list except Ranbir Kapoor. Particularly SRK and Salman. For Bodyguard and Ra.One??? Good Lord!! Talk about height of favouritism, chamchagiri, corruption and commercialism. 😡

    • Thanks Ashwathy. SRK was nominated for Don 2 but that was another crappy movie. I could not see Ra One beyond the first 20 minutes. It was a torture.
      The awards seems to be as corrupt as our government.

  3. completely agree. i thought jimmy shergill in saheb biwi aur gulam was phenomenal. waaayyy better than any of the nominees.

    • I think by asking the general public to vote for their favourites, you are actually killing the whole idea of giving an award to the best. You end up rewarding mediocre movies. Hopefully, next year will be bright because of movies like Kahani, Paan Singh Tomar and Vicky Donor in the run.

  4. oh, these award functions are total crap. not only filmfare, Dabang got national award as well; joke of the century. and we are not sure whether voting is manipulated or not.

    btw, i have subscribed to your blog, but didn’t get the new post notification. anyway, it’s for married people. so let them comment first, will read it later.

    • Wait a second! Dabangg got a national award???? Do they have a lucky draw system?
      Hey thanks for subscribing! Yes, do read it. Its about phuddu married men. 😉

  5. This is a great article. My thoughts on how Filmfare can redeem itself (apologies for the long post)-

    1) Abolish the public voting system. As long as they have the 50% public voting system, people like Shah Rukh Khan will keep winning awards over and over again, deserving or not. Also, as has been seen year after year, popular vote will always yield film nominees which are box-office hits. This year for example, all the six films nominated for Best Film were hits. Smaller films will not just have the inherent disadvantage of not winning, but they won’t have a prayer of being nominated in the first place.

    2) Have only 4 Acting categories. You are the Filmfare Awards, the most prestigious awards of Bollywood. For God’s sake there should be some prestige, a sense of achievement and success in winning the statuette. But the reality is that there are so many categories that you are bound to win in at least one of them. For example, Shah Rukh Khan has what 14 awards? whereas in Oscars, only five people have ever won 3 Oscars. Filmfare should project itself as if it is the ultimate achievement. Hence, cut all the Acting awards to the main four- Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress. Thank God they cut the pointless categories of Best Comedian and Best Villain in 2007. I say they could also do away with Best Debut Actor/Actress and also to an extent Best Debut Director and Debut Music Director. By doing so, Filmfare will not only create healthy competition and genuine excitement among the nominees and viewers, but can nominate the most deserving of the bunch. On a seconf thought, they could keep Debut Actor/Actress as it has a decent history and reflects Bollywood’s open arms to newbies mentality.

    3) Merge the Popular+Critics categories. Like you’ve said so wonderfully, Filmfare gives Best Critics award to films like Udaan as if saying “ok, that’s the best thing we can do to you, now we’ll give our main award to one of our own, Dabangg”. I immensely enjoyed Dabangg, but everyone can agree with me that Udaan was miles ahead in terms of actual cinematic achievement. The main ambition of Filmfare must be awarding the BEST of Hindi cinema, not awarding who was the best box-office draw, or “paisa-wasool” film. Similarly, Best Actor and Best Actress is not a popularity contest where a star with the most followers wins. I was so pissed last year when Rishi Kapoor won a Best Critics Male for Do Dooni Char while he was not even nominated for Best Actor. Ditto when Tabu won Best Critics for Cheeni Kum while not being nominated for Best Actress. How can this absurdity be explained?? If their performances were deemed by the critics as best of the year, how could they me sidelined in those ghetto categories, and not given a chance in the main, more prestigious Best Actor and Actress categories?

    4) To SONY channel and Filmfare tv producers- Don’t cut the speeches of the tech people in the telecast. That is such a blantantly unfair and rude act. Without the very art directors, cinematographers, make-up artists, costume designers, sound editors, etc, the movies would not have been made. They’ve worked equally hard as any leading actor, director. Give them their 2 minutes of spotlight for once.

    No matter how many people say Filmfare Awards have become crap just like the others (Zine Cine, Stardust, IIFA, et al), I still believe that majority of Filmfare’s nominees have been at least deserving. The tech nominees couldn’t have been better. It’s just the popular categories that needs fixing. The ultimate solution being that they need to majorly upgrade the prestige factor and make it as a purely industry award given out by an academy of industry folks (producers, actors, critics, directors, art directors, publicists, editors, etc) who can nominate people in their respective categories of work. Since they know what goes into film-making and have seen the work first-hand themselves, they can yield a good bunch of deserving nominees.

    • Thank you for your thoughts Vibhav.
      Yes, I totally agree with all your points. The most important ones are removing public voting and the critics awards. Also there are people in jury who are biased. The jury should be created so that they are not easily influenced.
      Filmfare has stopped making sense to me. I hope the oldest awards in Bollywood are saved in time.

      • Let’s see how this year pans out. I must say this year is especially strong for actresses, just looking at the type of roles and films some of the actresses have chosen. For me personally, Kahaani for me has been the best film of the year so far. Hope it holds up untill the year-end.

  6. Obviiusly these are fixed. Stars agree to perform for an award. Ra one, all salman khan movies, Singham, dont deserve any award nomination also. I think I liked Shahrukh only in Chak De. Ye Saali Zindagi was a superb movie.

  7. Nice article. Not too late to comment on this I guess. Even the TV shows are moving in the same direction. In Indian Idol 6, a contestant Poorvi Koutish came to top 4 and got eliminated. Hell, she should have been eliminated in the beginning itself. Reason is bias of judges towards her. And happy to hear that there are many ppl who dont watch these crappy award functions.

    • Thanks for your comment Miku. I understand your point. I have never understood the logic behind public voting. They are not the experts in the art and give votes based on whether the contestants live in their neighborhood or not.
      And yes, the judges are partial as well at times.

  8. I totally agree with you on the list of movies that should have got their due attention… a sorry state of film awards too…

    On another note: aren’t we all too much sorry for lot of things happening around? Sorry state of ours? Ha!

  9. Pingback: The Utopian Indian Society | Bhavia's Blog

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