“These awards are a joke….. its a place where the industry likes to get-together and pat each other’s back……” – Naseeruddin Shah, CNN IBN
Its raining awards in Bollywood.The biggest blockbusters are making their ways into the nominations for the best film, director, actors, supporting actors. the list is endless. The question which arises over here is are these films indeed the best works of the previous year or are we overlooking better films simply because they could not make it big at the box office ?
Thankfully since the last few years some good films have managed to earn sizeable profits as well -generally termed as a ‘hit’- and hence we have had some credibility at the awards. But a large number of deserving candidates still remain un-nominated, forget about winning.
Take this for example. Abhay Deol never got any nominations for his superlative performances in Manorama – 6 feet under, Oye Lucky Lucky Oye or Dev D (the last one was at least a decent success at the box office) but got one for Zindagi Naa Milegi Dobaara this year. Reason : it was one of year’s biggest hits. Sometimes certain nominations are forced into unusual categories, because the organisers are clearly aware of the fact that the actor might not win the more popular award owing to stiff competition from a bigger ‘star’. I still remember Sanjay Dutt and Saif Ali Khan winning the best actors in a comic role award for Munnabhai M.B.B.S and HumTum respectively. In Hollywood we don’t even have such categories . There’s simply the best actor in a lead and a supporting role. Add to these, the Critic’s Awards: the organisers way of saying “these are the people who deserved; but we are too shy to acknowledge it.”
But this was not the case with Bollywood always. If you look at the winners of Filmfare two or three decades ago, you will be surprised to find names like Naseer-ud-din Shah, Govind Nihalani, Shyam Benegal over there. The reason why Amitabh Bachchan won so few Filmfares when he reigned over the box office was because meaningful cinema was given more importance those days. So when did this change happen ? What forced the organisers to start catering to popular taste ?
“There are a lot of pressures. It has all become a business….. When they have awards, they need to have a full show. That show has to go on television. The television needs to have a TRP. That means you need a lot of stars coming there. So whoever comes they have to give him the award……” – Ajay Devgn, Koffee with Karan.
With the increasing no of T.V. channels and subsequently award functions there is a race amongst them to grab the maximum eyeballs. Now someone like my mom who watches only 5-6 films a year and that too the ones with Khans and Kapoors in them would automaticlly loose interest in a T.V. program which is continuously giving away prizes to a lesser known film like ‘Stanley ka dabba’. Lets face it. The audience which is a hardcore movie-buff and the one that watches general entertainment channel contributing to its TRP are two different people. And the channel owners are right in playing the game by its rules. So we can have a popular entertainment ‘news’ channel quizzing movie stars entering an award function as to why a certain Khan with two 100 plus crore films to his credit this year did not win a single nomination. But nobody will ask ” Why did Prateik Babbar and Irrfan Khan not win nominations for their performances in Dhobhi Ghaat And Yeh Saali Zindagi respectively ?”
The question which arises over here is whether these awards really matter ? For smaller films the answer is yes. A lot of Hollywood studios release their low-budget films in Los Angeles Countey, California before the end of year in order to qualify for the Oscars. Once the list of nominations are out, they use it to market their films and have a bigger release worldwide. In fact, the Academy unjustly ignores a lot of blockbusters for the nominations only because they want smaller films to get noticed. It happens with Christopher Nolan’s films every year. While that is wrong, what the award functions are doing over here is even worse. What is the point in highlighting a film which is already under limelight because of its cast and box-office results. While some award functions do try to be different (the Screen awards in particular which has nominated Kukunoor’s ’3 Deewarein’ in popular categories, Rajpal Yadav for best actor in a leading role for ‘Main Madhuri Dixit Banna Chahti Hoon’ in the past) they have to somewhere down the line also bow down to commercial pressures. The industry had even started its own Producer’s Guild Awards to undo the bias these award ceremonies are usually blamed for. But seems have faded into oblivion now.Its therefore heartfelt to see movie-buffs comin up with Twitter-awards on the popular social networking site to honour performances in good cinema.
But then how does one define ‘good’ cinema in first place. What might be good for me might end up as boring for you. Imtiaz Ali once said in an interview – “The performance of a film can’t be gauged over its weekend collections. That only determines whether it recovered its costs or not. The real performance of a film can only be judged many years after its release on whether people still remember the film or not.”
We might forget who won the Filmfare or Screen tommorow but can easily remember films like Satya, Khosla Ka Ghosla, A Wednesday frame-by-frame. And none of these films had received fair number of nominations at most of the award ceremonies; forget about winning. It is high time the industry comes up with a body which has the discretion to separate the wheat from the chaff and applaud the efforts of those who have dared to be different.
P.S.: Last July’s release Delhi Belly was undoubtedly one of the best films of 2011. A script like that doing well at the box-office will open new boundaries for us in the future. I just have one doubt. Isn’t it an english language film (less than 10% of its dialogues are in Hindi) ? What is it doing at Bollywood Award functions which is for movies made in Hindi language ? By that logic even ‘Memories in March’ should have qualified for the nominations. Okay maybe people haven’t heard of that film. After all it was neither produced by a mainstream production house nor had a release across 1200 screens. Thank you Aamir. Its ironical that a person who doesn’t attend award functions is changing some rules over there.