Article

Comment: Maturing industry needs real awards


Why can’t the Indian film industry come together and set up independent awards rather than hankering for handouts from media houses for whom these occasions are a way to promote otherwise comatose publications and channels and collect ad revenues?

Akshay Kumar does not feature in the Filmfare nominations for best actor despite delivering three Rs100 crore films last year.

Rajeev Pai

Rajeev Pai

The film awards season is on. And if the awards are here, can controversies be far behind? So Akshay Kumar fans are wondering why the actor, who turned in strictly okay performances, does not figure among the nominees for best actor despite delivering three Rs100 crore films last year. After all, isn’t the box office the ultimate arbiter of success?

To be fair, no harm would have been done if Akshay Kumar were to be nominated for at least one film. It’s not as if there are a limited number of nominations in any category. These are not the Oscars or the BAFTAs. Like everything else here, the number of nominations is flexible. Indeed, the number of awards, too, is flexible. You can always create new categories to keep everyone happy.

That is exactly what the problem with Indian film awards is. No one, not even the organisers, takes them seriously. Everyone knows it’s just another occasion to enjoy, be seen, and party. If you do get an award, that’s icing. This is one area where the government actually scores over private enterprise, as the National Awards are prized far more.

Considering that the Indian film industry is 105 years old, you would be forgiven for thinking it had grown up. The Oscars were instituted in 1929, the BAFTAs in 1948. While they do have their share of controversies, the awards do not lack credibility.

So, why can’t the Indian film industry come together and set up similar independent awards rather than hankering for handouts from media houses for whom these occasions are a way to promote otherwise comatose publications and channels and collect ad revenues?

Industry members are not blind to the reality. For the longest time, Aamir Khan has avoided these events. Shah Rukh Khan and Akshay Kumar have lampooned them though they continue to attend and perform (there is good money and publicity to be had, after all.) Kunal Kohli on his FM radio show also mocked the surfeit of awards like jury choice, critics’ award, people’s choice and what-not.

Everyone — stars, filmmakers and audiences — knows these awards are a charade. It is time for the veterans to come together to set up awards that are truly respected. Our changing film industry needs it. A country with a democratic tradition for 70 years deserves it.