Aao Award Award Khelein

Feb 3, 2011 Shrey Khetarpal

Filmfare Awards, Star Screen Awards, Zee Cine Awards, IIFA, Stardust Awards, Apsara Awards, National Awards and many more awards are there to celebrate excellence in Hindi cinema today. However, the big question here is whether these awards actually salute excellence or reflect the popularity of the year’s blockbusters in competition.

The credibility of these awards is a different matter altogether; actors and filmmakers have often accused organizers of playing favourites, selling trophies and pleasing the powerful. These days, new categories are introduced to please some stars and sponsors, all in the name of encouraging talent and public voting! Leaving aside the credibility issue, the biggest question any awards ceremony needs to address is what they stand for; are they going to felicitate the biggest hit or a technically superior film that may not have set the box office on fire.

One school of thought is purely merit based, where big and small films compete on the same platform and the same judgment parameters apply to all. Public voting system may not work well here as whenever you try to go mass, the stars’ emotional connect and popular appeal may take over.

The only possible solution is having a qualified jury based judging process like our National Awards and the Star Screen Awards; though there are always questions on the jury’s decisions. Internationally also the most prestigious awards are jury based, like the Oscars, which have a much more complicated judging process and a much larger jury.

These merit based awards help smaller, well-made films gain recognition and some more business. In fact, success at Oscars have helped some small films reach blockbuster status; case in point, Slumdog Millionaire. The flipside to this process is that many popular films are overlooked and the fans are left disappointed.

At last year’s Oscars, James Cameron’s magnum opus, Avatar was beaten by a much smaller film, The Hurt Locker for the Best Picture trophy. The masses who had loved Avatar had not even heard of The Hurt Locker and many had complained of it being boring. This year the same thing happened at the Star Screen Awards where the year’s biggest hit, Dabangg did not find a nomination in the Best Film shortlist and a lesser seen but much superior film, Udaan won the big prize.

On the other hand are the popular awards that celebrate the biggest blockbusters, the most popular stars and are usually voted for by the audience. These awards promise ultimate entertainment but are not about cinematic excellence. After all why shouldn’t Dabangg win awards as it was the biggest film of 2010 and how many people even saw Udaan?

The problem arises when they do not clarify their positioning and good films end up losing to money-spinners that are not well made. For instance, Zee Cine Awards this year nominated Golmaal 3 in the Best Picture category while Udaan, the biggest winner at Star Screen did not figure in any of the key categories.

There is nothing wrong in that provided the organizers had clearly highlighted their intent of felicitating popular films and not indie cinema.

This lack of positioning and utter disregard to quality cinema led to a group of film buffs on social networking site, Twitter to start a movement called the Tweeple Film Awards aka the TwiFi Awards.

The idea of having fair and unbiased film awards gained immediate interest amongst the Twiterrati and within hours they had over 100 followers. Rules and regulations for the awards were decided on Twitter only and a jury panel was put together with India’s most respected film critics and 30 film buffs chosen through a voting process. They decided to have a separate expert panel for music categories with 11 music critics and 11 music buffs.

Currently the nomination categories and other processes are being decided through on-ground discussions amongst the jury and other film buffs. Once the categories are frozen, the jury will draw up the nominations that will be opened for online voting. The instant success of this idea clearly means that there is a need to have Film Awards that are clear about their objectives and are just not mindless entertainment evenings attended by badly dressed actors.

TwiFi Awards, though democratic will also have to address the question of popular voting that may swing the decision in favour of the least deserving nominees, though they all would certainly be good films. At least it’s a start and with the right intent; the organizers and the jury will learn as they go along. To know more about the TwiFi Awards, follow them on www.twitter.com/Twi_Fi_Awards or join www.facebook.com/TwiFiAwards.

Another interesting format that has emerged online this year is the Ghanta Awards. Inspired by Hollywood’s Razzies, the Ghantas promise to reward the worst of Bollywood including but not limited to categories like the Worst Film, Worst Actor and Worst Actress.

Decided by popular voting again these awards will be streamed live online on February 6th coinciding with the 56th Filmfare Awards’ telecast. I don’t think that’s a coincidence and it shows that the Indian film buffs have found their own voice. To know more about the Ghantas, log on to www.theghantas.com or follow them on www.twitter.com/theghantas

Declaration: The author of this article has grown up watching film awards and has almost always enjoyed them. He wakes up at odd hours to catch the Oscars and stays up late to watch the star-studded Bolly film awards that come with never ending commercial breaks. In the last few years, he has been disappointed with the state of Hindi film awards but has not lost faith. He is also part of the TwiFi Awards’ Film Buff Jury.


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