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When Filmfare was known as the Clare awards

The first awards ceremony recognized only five winners and was a relatively small affair.

Sonal Pandya

The first Filmfare award function was held on 21 March 1954 at Bombay's landmark Metro cinema. Bimal Roy's Do Bigha Zamin (1953) walked away with the Best Film and Best Director statuettes while Dilip Kumar was adjudged Best Actor for Amiya Chakrabarty's Daag (1952). Meena Kumari was awarded the Best Actress honour for Baiju Bawra (1952) and Naushad's compositions in the same film were deemed the best of that year. This was to be Naushad's only win as Best Music Director at the Filmfare awards.

Dilip Kumar and Meena Kumari

Now, the awards are referred to as 'the black lady' or just the Filmfare Awards. But formerly the awards were named the Clare awards in memory of The Times of India's film critic, Clare Mendonca, who passed away earlier that year. In her two decades as a film journalist, Mendonca was co-vice-president, with Khwaja Ahmad Abbas, of the Film Journalists Association from its inception in 1939. Filmindia editor Baburao Patel was the president.

The ceremony was short and sweet as only five awards were handed out. Back then, the awards were quite a democratic process. The winners were decided by the readers of the magazine, and no other competing names were announced. Five lucky readers even got to hand out the awards to the winners, under the supervision of George V Allen, the then US ambassador to India. The awards were hosted by the actor David and comprised musical performances from Nalini Jaywant, Talat Mehmood, Mohammad Rafi and Geeta Dutt. Actors Vyjayanthimala and Kamini Kaushal gave beautiful dance performances on stage.

The awards ceremony was attended by actors like Raj Kapoor and Nargis, along with filmmakers Sohrab Modi and Mehboob Khan. Hollywood star Gregory Peck was due to make an appearance at the ceremony as a guest of honour. But his flight from Sri Lanka was delayed and he could only make it to the after-party at the Willingdon Club where he mingled with the stars from the Indian silver screen.

The year after, the Filmfare awards included more categories, honouring supporting performances and writers and adding technical categories for cinematography and sound recording.