Reflections – Are awards a sham?

‘1995 – That was the time when I was a school going teenager and there were only one recognised awards – ‘The Filmfare Awards’. Nominations were eagerly awaited, bets were placed on the eventual winner, homework was finished well in advance to watch the coveted awards ceremony (albeit it was ‘deferred live’, but the who cared) on Doordarshan and phone calls were made during advertisement breaks to share notes on what was the winning score by now (on the bets being won when nominations came spot on).

2012 – The scenario has changed. Well, completely.

This week’s ‘Reflections’ is about the innocence lost with commercialisation taking over everything and everyone.

Those were the days…

Allow me to get nostalgic as I talk about the ‘good old days’ here. Frankly, for the generation that has started watching/following movies after the invention of cellphone, here is my not-so-subtle declaration – ‘Guys, you are indeed missing the excitement that was once the hallmark of film awards’. It was a different charm altogether when winning or losing an award didn’t just mean a lot to a celebrity but also us, the members from the audience, who waited for an entire year to see the best of the best occupy the stage and share that winning speech. No wonder, that unforgettable emotionally charged drunken ‘live act’ by Dharmendra (when he went on stage to fetch the ‘Lifetime Achievement’ award) is still etched in everyone’s memory.’

‘Nevertheless, on topic, the kind of anxiety and curiosity attached to these awards was higher than ever. The reason was simple – ‘There wasn’t going to be a second chance’. Yeh award mil gaya toh theek hai warna mass level recognition ka koyi chance nahi’. Of course even in those times there were a few award ceremonies that were held at some level or another but if at all there was a nationwide event, it was the one associated with ‘Filmfare’ award.

Since there was an exclusivity attached to this solitary awards event, the controversies too enjoyed far greater shelf life than the ones today. And that despite the fact that there weren’t 100 odd news/entertainment channels or dozens of websites and tabloids to keep a constant tab on who said what after someone missed an award. Still, the handful of film magazines that kept these developments alive made sure that actors were much more than just vocal about their displeasure/appreciation after losing/winning these awards.

Why I can still be seen talking about this is due to the fact that there was a certain meaning and relevance to these awards. On the other hand today the situation has gone totally out of control.

It’s a sham. Period.

Frankly, after around half a dozen award ceremonies were ‘invented’ in the last decade or so, I for sure lost all interest (stemming from loss of faith) in practically each of them. When it is becoming much more than just crystal clear that these awards are either functioning on a barter system or are merely working on a mix-n-match mode, the very essence of ‘He is better than the other’ has ended up losing its relevance. Really, how can you trust who is indeed better when a jury picks one individual while masses pick someone else for being ‘popular’? Or just in order to please three celebrities, one award each is invented with a fancy name attached to them all so that all can go back home happy while placing that trophy amidst a dozen other that have been already accumulated from different sources.

This is the reason why the sheer unpredictability factor (and hence the excitement) is completely lost as you are well aware that within an award ceremony if an actor will miss out on a particular award, he would be compensated in some other category. Even worse, if that doesn’t happen in Event X, he is sure to walk away with the honours in Event Y. Pretty much like a scratch card scheme where it is proudly declared – ‘Assured gifts for all participants’!

Thankfully the stars are saying it too

2012 will go down as the year when maximum celebrities have gone on record to state how they have absolutely no faith in awards. From Salman Khan to Emraan Hashmi, each of them has made his stand quite clear. So while Aamir Khan and Ajay Devgn are pretty much carrying the same belief, the likes of Shahrukh Khan, Hrithik Roshan and Ranbir Kapoor are in no mood to give these events a cold shoulder. On the same lines, the ladies out there, right from Kareena and Katrina to Priyanka and Vidya have never ceased to bite their nails and wait for those nominations to be announced. They have believed in awards. They still do!

Their fans too are singing the same tune. So while Salman’s fan following prides on declaring the ‘Bhai is right to shun awards’, the ones who support Shahrukh believe that the man has earned every trophy that he has gathered since his Deewana days. Aamir’s fans continue to take that intellectual trip while Emraan’s followers wonder if the man would stick to his beliefs when he actually gets nominated for the top honours one day.

Meanwhile award organisers don’t seem to care

Current awards season has made it clear that for the organisers out there, it’s the ‘commercial viability’ of hosting, distributing and celebrating these awards that holds the utmost importance. So if a Salman isn’t ready to fetch any awards despite his Bodyguard being the highest grosser of the year, the choice has narrowed down to a Shahrukh, Ranbir or Hrithik since Aamir would anyways not be available. On the other hand, if leaving out Vidya Balan for The Dirty Picture would be (rightfully) termed as a sacrilege, something or the other would be invented for a Kareena or a Katrina to ensure that no one misses out in the bargain.

The idea is to keep the glam quotient alive, come what may. After all with commercialisation setting in a big way, media tie ups being today’s reality and not just the way of the future, glossies waiting to be sold, endorsements eyeing the awards results and personal equation with the celebrities playing a major role as well, just about no one with some promise of a ‘return of some kind’ can be ignored.

No wonder, less ‘return friendly’ affairs like Pyaar Ka Punchnama, Shaitan, Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster, Yeh Saali Zindagi or a Mujhse Fraaandship Karoge, just to name a few, don’t quite see much going in their favour despite being some of the most liked (if not revenue generator) affairs of the year.

After all, more than the combined force of a Karthik/ Divyendu/ Rayo, Gulshan/ Kalki/ Shiv, Jimmy/ Mahie/ Randeep, Irrfan/ Chitrangda/ Abhimanyu or Saqib/ Saba/ Nishant walking up the stage and collecting an award, it is that single priceless expression of Shahrukh (when asked to comment on Salman’s exclusion from an award) which ends up bagging the highest TRP/viewer traffic. Right?’

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