Why Bollywood Award Shows Struggle To Stay Relevant

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What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of ‘Oscars’ or ‘Golden Globes’? Prestige. It’s not the same when it comes to desi counterparts like the 60 year old ‘Filmfare Awards’ or the much younger ‘Life OK Screen Awards’ (21 year old). ‘Oscars’, ‘Golden Globes’ and ‘Filmfare’ have one thing in common – a long legacy spanning over a half century. Oscar celebrates 87th year in 2015 whereas Golden Globes celebrates 72th year. Hollywood awards are known for their fair and transparent process in selecting the winners. Over 6000 elite Academy members vote for Oscars to select the yearly winners. As for Golden Globes, it constitutes 93 prominent journalists from all over the world, who are members of Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), in the voting panel. When looking back, we can see that these two major awards had a smooth run without many controversies questioning their legitimacy & the selection process. Of course, a calculated campaigning can still sway the Oscar & Golden Globe voters – to some extent (as we witnessed in the case of Shakespeare In Love in 1999 and Crash in 2015)! Brushing aside such minor hiccups, these awards continue to stay relevant and prestigious. The same cannot be said about the Bollywood awards. Especially since we have a dozen new award shows, the prestige is the last thing they are bothered about.

Where are Bollywood awards heading?

Well, it’s not heading to a nice place – that’s certain! Controversies and corruption make it very hard for the Award shows to stay relevant & significant. Speaking of Filmfare awards, it’s a popular award. The subscribers of the Filmfare magazine decide the winners through voting (however, they introduced critic’s choice awards for few major categories to make it less dull). As we all know, public is not always the best judge when it comes to quality of movies, acting and technical prowess. As Oscars realized, the people who work in the business are the best to judge the merit of a movie or artist. Now it’s too late for Filmfare awards to change their format. So, let’s not hound them on that matter. However, at least they can be honest and fair in the manner in which they select the popular awards. If you take a closer look, despite giving good performances and milestone movies, Aamir Khan and his movies always missed Filmfare awards. Same can be said about Ajay Devgn as well. To refresh your memory, both Aamir Khan and Ajay Devgn spoke against the politics behind award shows. Aamir Khan boycotted all the award shows (of course, except National Awards and Oscars). Time and again, we hear allegations that these awards are ‘fixed’. It’s not just stars, fans also have spoken against the dirty picture behind awards.

Award shows have become a huge televised event in India involving big money. So TRP matters. Who brings TRP? Big stars, who else! Don’t think that it’s different in Hollywood. ABC, which is under contract to broadcast Oscars until 2020, resorts to all sorts of circus to increase the TRP of Oscars (did you forget Ellen Degenerator’s selfie stunt during last year’s Oscar Ceremony?) However, in Hollywood big stars don’t ask for money or favours to attend these awards. If they are nominated they will definitely show up at the red carpet and graciously cheer the winner despite their bitter losses. They understand the fact that maintaining a healthy ecosystem of awards is a necessity for ensuring quality. In Bollywood, we hear all sorts of stories about the insane demands of stars when it comes to attending award shows.’ If you are not going to give me an award and then don’t bother sending an invitation’ – this seems to be the motto of most of the major stars, according to various reports. This leads to hilarious award categories. For the ‘best actor’ category, some award shows give up to 5 different awards (best actor in a thriller, best actor in a drama, best actor in a comedy and goes on)! Then they invent very creative award categories to accommodate a certain demanding actor! There was a recent controversy regarding music awards, where Honey Singh was given best music director award ignoring A R Rahman & Amit Trivedi!

Bollywood fans have been discussing about the pointlessness of Bollywood awards on social media like Twitter and Facebook. It looks like everyone except award show organizers is aware of this growing criticism. Speaking of Oscars, we have something similar in Bollywood. IIFA (Indian International Film Awards), which came in to existence in 2000, is a global Bollywood award show where nominations & winners are selected by peers in the industry. The glossy award function is usually held at an international venue outside India. Nevertheless, they keep honouring the least deserved winners. Moreover, they are not far behind when it comes to hilarious categories.

In short, Bollywood award scene is a big mess right now. This can be largely attributed to the fact that industry is disorganized to the core. They don’t have unity – they don’t have functional organizations for the actors and technicians. If they had, it would have been easier for them to conduct their own award show modelled on Oscars. In that case, a trusted outside agency (an agency named PricewaterhouseCoopers has the responsibility for tabulating Oscar votes) can handle the voting process to avoid politics and corruption. Also, it would force the stars to attend the awards without asking for favours. Such a move could clean up the system. But who is going to do that? The leading actors are at loggerheads all the time. They fight over everything and their cold wars and camp systems are infamous in Bollywood. So it would be too much to expect them to do something about this mess.

But who will bell the cat?

That’s the biggest question. Until we find an answer, we will have to deal with the nonsense in the name of awards!

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