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HindustanTimes Thu,25 Dec 2014
Oscars and the Desi Makeover
Gautam Chintamani, Hindustan Times
March 01, 2013
First Published: 14:19 IST(1/3/2013)
Last Updated: 14:23 IST(1/3/2013)
Gautam Chintamani

What makes Indian film awards especially the ones connected with commercial Hindi cinema different from any other award in the universe? Till a few years ago we would look at the international film awards and wish how our desi awards could be like them. While some wishes are blessed enough to come true, some are cursed to come true in a way you never wished. Our standards might not have gone up but the dream of local awards becoming global has finally come true with the Oscars now resembling our film awards in more aspects than one.

One of the biggest mysteries of popular Hindi film awards is that no one knows how the nominations are decided but a look at this year's Oscar nominees and you'd see how the world's most popular awards have started bungling up. The scientific process behind the members of Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences, the body that awards the Oscars is known to throw up surprises but what could explain the omission of Ben Affleck from the Best Director category? The Academy nominated Argo for seven awards including Best Picture but didn't find the director who made it all possible good enough to make the cut? Similarly the manner in which Kathryn Bigelow was snubbed speaks volumes about the Academy's hypocrisy but such things never trouble Hindi films. Here categories such as 'Powerful Scene of the Year' or 'Beauty of the Year' are created with the sole intention of honouring a select few who miss out on a nomination. There are times when a person hasn't had a single decent performance or even a release in the year but still end up with a statuette for simply showing up. At the end of the night a single award or a bagful of them somewhere mean the same and Affleck's win for the Best Picture, he was one of the producers of Argo, would make everyone believe that the Academy made up for its follies. In our films the drama doesn't end with the lights coming on. No sir, our award functions are as dramatic as the films they honour. Remember how at the 1992 Filmfare awards Dimple Kapadia held envelope against the light and 'read' out Anil Kapoor's name for the best actor citation for Beta over Aamir Khan's bravura act in Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar? And if you thought that it was one time thing then try explaining how Aamir Khan's mere name still evokes commotion at award functions!

The Academy Awards also have their fair share of theatrics and the seating is one that speaks volumes. The seating at the Oscars depends on the number of nominations a film gets and the ones who are in the running for Best Picture and Best Actors awards are usually seated in the front. And then there's a different category of people who might never be nominated again like Life of Pi's Suraj Sharma who was seated so far off that even Ang Lee couldn't locate him while giving his speech after he won the statuette for Best Director. Suraj single-handedly carried 80% of a film that notched up 11 nominations and good seats was the least the Academy could have done for not nominating him. In India it's the Bachchans and/or Hrithik Roshan & family or Shah Rukh Khan and gang who get the front row like Hollywood where Jack Nicholson, Warren Beatty and Steven Spielberg are in a section of their own. We still manage to outdo Hollywood when it comes collecting awards as there's no foreign equivalent of Jackie Shroff walking up with his infant son in tow to collect an award (Best Actor Filmfare, Parinda) or a bemused Amitabah Bachchan calling Sanjay Dutt and Aamir Khan to share the award he won for Hum as he thought he didn't deserve it. But who said they have their crazy ones - Sally Fields' crazy You really like me realisation on winning her second Oscar for Places in Heart or Anne Hathaway loudly whispering '…Finally' on getting hers for Les Miserables this year or George C. Scott refusing his Oscar for Patton as believed the whole thing was 'a goddamn meat parade' and didn't want any part of it.

The Oscars are as desperate for ratings as any desi awards. We get our actors dolled up to prance around in the name of performing items on stage and they get stand up comedians (Chris Rock), young eye candy (James Franco & Anne Hathaway) or the politically incorrect (Seth MacFarlene) in order to retain audiences. We have controversial in-house jokes to attract the viewers; they have the loser song and even thrown in an Obama so that a miracle can happen. Perhaps the biggest complaint against Indian film awards is that they are handed out to almost everyone from the A-List to placate so while there's one Best Actor in the popular category there's one award in the Best Actor Critics category, sometimes if a director's written the script then he/ she gets it for writing so someone else can be handed the award for direction. But after this year's Oscars it seems like they went out of their way to please everyone- Lincoln got the Best Actor, Life of Pi got the Best Director, The Silver Linings Playbook got Best Actress, Django Unchained and Les Miserables got Best Supporting Actors, Argo managed Best Picture. With the Oscars and our awards now looking different but same, same we can safely say that the magic of cinema has worked… after all by time it ends everything's fine and if it ain't then picture abhi baaki hai mere dost!


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