Bollywood is one of the biggest obsessions in India. With its distinct, colorful brand of cinema, it has even captivated an audience outside of the subcontinent. As it grows and succeeds, it is only rational to expect it to mature and give rise to secondary industries. One such activity is that of the annual film awards which have already established a television term of their own. They are popular, entertaining and an audience across demography looks out for them. However, they have also been observed as repetitive, deferred and predictable media properties by some.
To understand these awards let us acknowledge a more mature international paradigm. There are 3 categories of film awards – critics’ awards – voted on by a group of critics; festival awards, awards presented to the best film shown in a particular film festival; and industry awards, which are selected by professionals working in various branches of the movie industry.
Most Indian awards loosely follow the industry awards model.
The following popular awards make up the award calendar (mid Jan – early Feb):
Amongst these, Filmfare has been the most sought after for years. However, over the past few years, the Filmfare awards seem to have lost their sheen. This is partly because of the emergence of other players in the awards business and partly because Filmfare Awards as a brand has failed to capitalize on its advantage.
After Filmfare 2011, Tushar Khandelwal (New Delhi, India) reacted on an indiatimes blog –
02 Feb, 2011 08:46 PM
Guys completely boycott this SRK fair .The cheapness of this award is an all time high. SRK win 8 awards equal to Dilip Saab .This is the biggest insult to the best actor of all time .Dilip Saab’s acting can never be compared to anyone and people who are close to his calibre are : Amitabh Bachchan, Motilal, Sanjeev Kumar, Naseeruddin Shah,Om Puri and Pankaj Kapur.
The reaction might be exaggerated but the point is well made. Owing to the disreputable practice of allowing factions of the industry to adopt these awards, the Filmfare has lost a lot of ground. They are also called the SRK show now.
With all of this baggage where is the Filmfare caravan headed and where would we rather see it go??
Where it’s headed and why
With every passing year the caravan’s ideology has eroded and credibility reduced. It is turning into, if it hasn’t already into an overrated circus. The tricks are jaded and someone will soon call the bluff.
That soon is now:
1. Lack of Methodology – Due to its seeming lack of independence, Filmfare has not published its methodology for nominations or final selections. No one knows who or how the nominees are selected. The only disclosure about the procedure to select the final winner is a semi democratic expert committee and public voting system. The big concerns with that are:
– Public voting reduces awards to a popularity contest when it really should be a merit based system
– Neither the committee members, nor the weightage to their votes are revealed
– Filmfare being a film gossip magazine does not warrant any credibility of its own and does not appoint an external agency to validate its system
– Having categories such as debut and upcoming performers is representative of a flimsy ideology that a new entrant cannot compete with experienced performers irrespective of the product he/she creates
All of this adds credence to the idea of awards being patronized by factions of the industry and have end up simply being propaganda for a few of them. It is believed to be the reason some acclaimed professionals (such as Ajay Devgan, Aamir Khan) boycott these ceremonies.
Notice this table that is a compilation of Filmfare Awards for the last 5 years. It lists the Filmfare Winners and other “more acclaimed” performances/films that did not make the cut. The point whether the final winner was the most deserving one is highly subjective but the Filmfare awards process has left much to be desired.
For instance anybody who’s watched the following films would agree that they deserved a better fate at any awards worth their salt:
- Maqbool,2005 (not nominated for best film, direction)
- Omkara,2007 (not nominated for best film)
- Dev D,2010 (forced its way into the nominations but deserved more)
- Love Sex aur Dhoka,2011 (band baaja baraat, got nominations ahead of this one in film and direction categories)
Take on the other hand the most sought after film awards in the world, the American Academy awards (Oscars).
Voting @ the Academy are honorary members whose ranks include more than 6,000 film artists and professionals. It is a time tested well laid down and accepted process where artists vote in their respective categories to choose the nominees. Actors constitute the largest voting bloc, numbering 1,311 members (22 percent).
In addition, votes have been certified by the auditing firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (and its predecessor Price Waterhouse) for the past 73 annual awards ceremonies.
The reputed BAFTA (UK) and other international awards, have similar formats with a few exceptions. In fact every major industry award including the Grammys and the Emmys follow some variations of this model where an industry body is the nucleus of the awards.
The Academy Awards Process – All movies released in the year are entered and category specific nominations are made by members. Actors nominate actors, directors nominate directors and so on. After the nomination stage, all academy members vote across categories for the final awards. (Note – The entire academy votes for nominates for categories such as Best Picture)
The process followed by the Academy does have its flaws and has been criticized by some who complain of lobbying but it is definitely one of the most robust awards process that brings the industry to the center of the awards. Any awards establishing relative creative aptitude are bound to be criticized by some but till the time we are able devise an algorithm to measure creative talent in cinema, the Academy model stands supreme for robustness of process.
2. Please stop the music – It’s not easy doing that considering the Filmfare Awards are hosted regularly at Yash Raj Studios , just in case you were wondering why they have the feel of a pretentious Punjabi wedding. They run for 3-4 hours, with one Shiamak Daburesque performance after another. The hosts are not funny, with clichéd gay jokes being a legacy of the Filmfare ceremonies.
Most facilitators and awardees lack spontaneity. To add to the misery, they are not aired live, have already been reported about in yesterday’s daily and have pathetic production standards.
Compare this again to the Oscars, it is a mega live crisp event. When an artist wins the trophy it is real and emotional. That is what the television audience is a sucker for. They like heartbreaks, tears, spontaneous laughter, applause – all of which is reduced to a damp squib in the Indian version. The Filmfares are getting reduced from what they should be – the biggest night in Indian cinema to just another naach gaana show in the TRP race. Has anyone noticed the shoddy quality of the performances? With actors coming underprepared, there is a huge difference between how they perform on screen and how they perform on stage. Contrast this against the Grammy performances aired last night, Production quality – tight as hell, with smooth transitions from announcement to performances – costumes, lights, camerawork – immaculate. If India’s growing up to International standards in every other facet, why should we be subjected to sub standard entertainment? It is only time before the audience smartens up and demands a commitment.
How can this domestic caravan put up a more credible show?
a) Stop awarding SRK (jus kidding). More seriously, they should follow the academy’s model of corporate management where general policies are overseen by a Board of Governors, which includes representatives from each of the craft branches. The Filmfare should take the lead in creating this industry body and making this move will actually also help the Filmfare brand to go beyond the tag of “India’s #1 Filmi Gossip Magazine”
b) Each discipline voted for with max weightage by members of that category itself
c) Invest in the advancement of the arts and sciences of motion pictures like film education, critique, museums etc. Imagine a Filmfare Awards museum with film memorabilia spanning decades
d) Do away with the public voting model and just keep a separate People’s Choice Awards for the top categories – Film, Actors and Director
e) Appoint an auditing body to reinforce the legitimacy of the awards
f) Make it a live event and reduce the length of the ceremony to 2 hrs. Build up the awards ceremony for what it is – a recognition of cinematic excellence rather than a show where actors crack lame jokes and come underprepared for performances.
Hosting the Oscars ceremony is considered to be an honor for any artist and there is a selection process for it. We need to bring the same kind of rigor to the Filmfare ceremony
a) Enhance the performances by planning them better, with surprise elements built in
b) Interview nominated stars and what a nomination means to them
c) Create a buzz with red carpet fashion etc
d) Talk about the body and the activities it is engaged in, the trophy and the history of the awards
Eventually, a film award is a brand in itself. The prestige of recognition is directly linked to the prestige of the recognition provider. In the case of the Oscars, recognition is directly linked to revenues.
For instance , Forbes reports “The average Best Picture Oscar winners over the last four years saw a bump of 22.2% (or $20.3 million) in box office revenue after they were named a nominee, and an additional 15.3% (or $14.0 million) following their win at the award show.” This is if the film is still running. If not, the impact could be gauged by DVD sales/downloads.
To round off, we had a word with a group of 5 girls who’re in their 2nd year at Jesus and Mary College, Delhi. On asking them