Sunday night is awards night. That is pretty much a given. Channel surf any time after 8 pm, and chances are you'll find some Bollywood starlet doing her thing before an audience comprising bigger starlets, a smattering of stars, directors and the ubiquitous music composers.
The format is the same. After a minute or two of frantic, canned applause, the cameras roam the aisles, stopping for a few seconds at every celebrity, major or minor. Then, to more canned applause -- tragically heard at moments when the cameras pinpoint bored people who aren't moving their hands at all -- the anchors step on stage. There are always two of them. And they are always, always bad. They stare out at their teleprompters to mouth sentences, in bad accents, that often begin with: "And now, to set the stage on fire "
Then, the fog machines go off, there's a relatively minor display of pyrotechnics, and another star hits the stage backed by women in shiny clothing. It almost makes you wish they'd set the stage on fire.
Where do these awards come from anyway? In the past, it was assorted film magazines that took on the onus of awarding the blazing talent our industry routinely displays in products such as Hero No 1. Then, corporates began stepping in, tagging their company names to the word 'Awards'. Now, it's anybody's guess. Telecom companies, television channels, random groups comprising producers' wives -- everyone has an award show going. Worse, they all promise to be annual affairs.
What makes the whole thing a little absurd is the fact that there are, in any given year, just about 10 films worthy of praise. Even 10 may be a generous figure, but I am no movie critic so let's just leave it at that. Now, take the said 10 films and juxtapose the 50 award shows. See what I mean?
It explains why India is possibly the only country in the world where a film like Kaho Na Pyaar Hai can gather a staggering 102 awards in twelve months!
Don't get me wrong. Rakesh Roshan may be a good director. The film may be a good one. Possibly, a great one. And Hrithik Roshan isn't bad looking at all either. But 102 awards for a rather twisted love story?
It wouldn't be so bad if the award shows were entertaining. But they are anything but. When you've reconciled yourself to the bad anchors, there are the lacklustre performances to get over. Performances both on and off stage. On, it's the half-hearted lip-synching I have never managed to make sense of. The stars don't really sing. The little skits they perform are badly choreographed. And the songs are either random hits from recent films, or classics revived for newer stars to prance to. So, what exactly is the point? Why not have stuntmen, mimicry artistes, singers or comedians instead?
Offstage, it's performances of another kind. First, the famous faces have to feign interest in happenings onstage whenever there's a camera pointing at them. Then, they have to feign excitement at the prospect of yet another nomination or award. At one award show a couple of Sundays ago, a television actress punched the air a couple of times, giggling madly and rushing towards the stage when she found out her serial had won something.
She plays a mother-in-law or a daughter-in-law. They all do.
There's a reason awards exist. They are meant to congratulate some and encourage others. They are created to boost morale and enhance quality. To make appreciation a more tangible thing. Our film awards, sadly, have more to do with sponsorship and television ratings than any of the above. If they can't get the stars they want, categories are often invented to accommodate those who condescend to attend. It's easy to figure that part out when almost everyone who wins somehow turns up on stage. This happens week after mind-numbing week.
At some point, the stars may simply stop coming. There are just so many awards one can take, after all. And only so many shows one can attend and smile at. Maybe when that happens, we can go back to a time when there were just one or two awards that actually meant something.
For those who feel the desperate need to initiate a new award, consider this. Instead of throwing away more statuettes at film stars who rarely deserve them, why not have more awards for students instead? Or entrepreneurs? Or for people who risk their lives daily? Why insist on creating more awards for an industry that simply churns out five decent products a year?
Initiate an award that makes sense. Then, whether you name it after your favourite aunt or your pet dog, at least its reasons for being are justified. Then that happens, I promise to sit up and pay attention.