Monday, February 7, 2011

The Cabaret of Indian Award Functions

I thoroughly enjoyed this year’s filmfare awards. Why? Because I was happy with who won the words and was satisfied with their selection and heard myself saying that it was the perfect choice? Not really because a day before the awards I gathered who all had won awards in the newspaper. So what made the show happening for me? The performances, the hosting of the show by ranbeer and imraan, (who still loom in the shadow of the shows put up by their senior counterparts, shah rukh and saif) or just looking at the beaming faces of all the film stars present at the mega event? But as a matter of fact I enjoyed any other award show as much as the grand Film fare affair, although the attendance at the film fare out does any other award function. So what is it that makes it outshine the other award functions, merely the fact that it’s in its 56th year and is associated with the oldest and the most popular film magazine of all times? With a dozen of other award functions that appear before and after Film Fare, the mega award ceremony seems to have lost its sheen. If u are berated and not acknowledged at one award’s function some other award function can very well come to rescue and if you happen to be the ‘it’ thing, they might go so far as to come up with a new category altogether that might be befitting.
While awards are meant to be recognition of outstanding achievement and performance in cinema for a given year, given the commercialisation of Indian cinema and the market forces that operate it, awards have been only reduced to an exercise in encouragement of new comers into the industry or the legitimisation and reaffirming the status of the veterans. Although the only salvaging grace of Film Fare is that being the oldest award function it has to bear the onus of excellence and, even if in mere semblance, has to wear the facade of fair play and egalitarianism. It would be no wrong to say that the bollywood industry is no less than a feudal setting where the sections of performers and artists are stratified and there is a clearly marked hegemony. Where excellence is determined by popularity and impartiality is traded for alliances. While the Film Fare still maintains a set standard of democratic decision making and also goes so far as to declare its jury that can be held accountable, most other award functions squirm through this exercise without announcing the jury and also manage to distract the audiences by the dazzle of a spectacle on stage. While the Film Fare this year felt responsible to award movies like Udaan that had accumulated international recognition albeit, at the same time it also felt the pressures of recognising the big players of the industry, viz., the Karan Johar Camp and the Salman Khan brigade. Also, since the Film Fare comes after a few awards have already appeared the anticipation for the awards have a great bearing on their decision making. The other award functions are not even worth mentioning because they are solely driven on PR and marketing.
In midst of such commercialisation and capitalisation, the film industry has been reduced into a huge estate where people pool their money and success is the stake they bank on. Movies like Om Shanti Om will go down in history as one of the most popular only on the basis of the commercial success it raked notwithstanding the shoddy direction and poor performances. There is no surprise that it might have even garnered some awards to its credit had a bigger commercial success, 3 idiots wouldn’t have stolen the limelight.  The awards therefore are mere celebrations of the completion of a successful commercial year at the box office, boosting the new talent, patting the success of the seasoned, just in time before the closure of the official financial year in March, where the bollywood income and its stakes are finally filed.

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