Filmfare is often to Oscars because they are the oldest awards with years of history and heritage. The truth is far from it though. During the past 20 years that Filmfare has changed. Before that, it was about celebrating the art of cinema and the famed black lady statuette was hard to get hands on. Curiously, it’s a case of competition making everyone worse rather than the other way around. And television combined with celebrity tabloid culture is clearly responsible for this development. The Indian film awards are run by media houses. They have an agenda. They want the maximum eyeballs and TRP’s. But here’s what is puzzling- unlike 6-7 years ago, today, the news of who won a Filmfare are live tweeted by journalists and flashed on news channels. That is one whole week before their actual ‘exclusive telecast’ in the age of instant information flow.
I am convinced that the Filmfare or any other ceremony is a boring event sprinkled with a couple of doses of laughter. It is these very select moments and stray smiles that are canned and then edited and packaged to give the audience a ‘sleek product’. That the awards are making a monkey out of the audiences is a point that gone amiss and what’s more, the people still tune in and it doesn’t matter to them. For them it’s the performances and the song and dance routine which makes it more of a nautanki than an award which is revered and holds gravitas.
If Indian films awards are so good, do them live.
But here is why they won’t do it. When its live, there is nowhere to hide and edit and polish a dull show , where the presence of an actor or nominee is directly related to whether he/she knows beforehand if he/she is winning or not. And then in a deal of scratching backs, the nominee performs on stage! Voila! It should be the awards night, not the emcee night or the superstar night. The audience is again taken for a ride, because some award producer has decided that this what the audiences like.
Granted television audience is required, Even the Oscars need them, so they keep on thinking of ways to be fresh and appeal to the widest possible demographic. And it’s not as if the show is only aired in the US. It’s seen worldwide – from the employees calling in late on Monday in Melbourne to otherwise late wakers but early for Oscars in Mumbai as also people in United Kingdom, probably after their Sunday mass.
Even the Oscar frontrunners are jittery because they have the most secretive voting process. Once the secret ballots are polled, the auditing firm PricewaterHouseCoopers oversees the proceedings and no one knows who won until the envelope is opened on stage in front of a live audience.
In that respect, Filmfare is a long long way off. The novelty, the thrill, the suspense, the excitement ;call what you may is gone. The list of nominees are ridiculous and shows shameless pandering to the stars. It’s like watching a fixed match except we are not the bookies and don’t get money out of the whole scam. More than often, it’s a straight cut deal, you perform on the night and you get a trophy. Sometimes the presenters are a dead give away of the eventual winners. They are either parents, sons, girlfriends, cousins or relatives. All’s well in a nepotistic family. Contrast to the Oscars where the previous years winners are the presenters. Eg . Christian Bale who won for supporting Actor last year presented for Best supporting Actress this year and gave the statue to Octavia Spencer today.
The other thing that is usually lamented online by keen cinéastes is the sheer number of awards coming up .In fact the truth is, India has far less awards. In the US, prior to the Oscars, there is long list of awards - Golden Globes, SAG, Actors’ Guild, Producers’ Guild, Directors Guild, Editors Guild, awards from various Critics Circles, Film festivals and many more. What is the key however is that each of these awards have a credibility factor. None of the Indian awards can claim that. On a live chat session earlier today, IBN’s Film Critic Rajeev Masand answering to my question on Oscar’s credibility replied “ Its because the voters are the same professionals of the industry”
What must be added is that the academy is almost 6000 members string and impossible to influence. Yes, one can try publicity and canvassing in the Oscar season but doesn’t guarantee anything.. Eg Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close.
Filmfare is an award where public voting also is taken into account and its concept is similar to MTV Awards where invariably the best films never win in any case. And those Indian awards which have a holier than thou attitude of being co-judged by the jury, the jury comprises of a select dozen people which not a suitable number by any stretch. I will close this up by pointing to the difference in quality between The Oscars and awards in India. In the Best Actor category this year, Ranbir Kapoor is sweeping the circuit clean with not a single upset as there is no other option. However, today if anyone among Demian Bechir, Gary Oldman, Brad Pitt or George Clooney had won instead of Jean Dujardin for Leading Actor, it would still have been well deserved. The nominations truly mean something, they are not vacuous. And speaking of quality and class, the announcement is not preceded by parroting the names of sponsors but a simple line
The Oscar goes to….