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Let the money rain, say stars

Award shows are more than festivities for the stars performing at the events.

india Updated: Jan 23, 2006 13:19 IST

The filmaward season is as much about the winners as it is about the assortment of stars featured to entertain TV and live audiences. An award show is no longer just a platform for genuine performance appreciation. Instead, though a trifle ironic, it has become an elaborate entertainment exercise, with a bit of song (star performances), a sprinkling of humour (highly scripted emcee speeches), a touch of emotion (lifetime achievement felicitations), in brief a complete masala package.

Come January, as the award season begins, star performers fix their rates for the events (you surely didn't think the performances were courtesy goodwill), which undergo a market readjustment depending on their box-office fortunes and overall popularity in the year gone by.

"Everything is charged and paid for at these shows - from compering to dance performances, skits and retrospectives. Even the senior stars who come on stage to perform, charge a fee. The market value and popularity of a star decides their inclusion in a show. The only freebie opportunities could be where the stars per form or promote their forthcoming films," says the editor of a film magazine which hosts its own film awards.

For instance, Abhishek Bachchan has seen his stock rise dramatically this year.

The Kajra Re performance at the recent IIFA awards was a big hit with the audience. People grooved with Ash and Big B to the tunes of Shankar-Ehasaan and Loy.

Sabbas Joseph, director, Wizcraft, which organises IIFA informs, "There has been no drastic change in star prices this year, apart from the fact that Abhishek Bachchan and John Abraham are heavily in demand. A lot depends on a star's overall appeal, the hype and success that they have achieved during the previous year and the number of hit songs picturised on them." Fardeen Khan and Zayed Khan may not have had a great 2005, but both had hit songs picturised on them (in

Ek Khiladi Ek Haseena

and

Dus

respectively) and that's what matters at an award show performance.

The selection of stars also depends on the budget of a show and their entertaining potential for both the ground and TV audience.

That apart, some shows sign exclusivity contracts with a star (which means in that particular year, the said star will perform only in their show), often for prices higher than their going rates. "However, stars are more amenable to reduce costs for award shows abroad and do compromise on their prices," adds Joseph.

And the time spent on rehearsals? "While the lower rung stars or those performing on songs by senior stars put in more practise sessions, the top stars, who generally repeat steps of their own hit numbers, are generally done with a three-four hour dress rehearsal," says the event manager of a forth coming award show.

The other way of getting a star to perform for a discounted price is by guaranteeing an award. However, some organisers contend that though insinuations abound about some award shows cutting on star rates or getting stars to perform for free with the promise of an award, it is quite a risky proposition. Also, news about backstage deals do get out and create bad blood if stars in the same league come to know of differential payments.

Joseph explains, "Awards based on viewer polls might do that, but it is not possible with awards having credibility and history attached to them. As regards IIFA, the tabulation is done by Pricewaterhouse Coopers and the results remain unknown till the last moment. So sometimes it happens that we manage to fly in four of the nominees in a category with the winner getting left out."

However, with shows getting more professional, the award season means quick and big bucks for the happening stars of the day.

"For newcomers these awards sure are a big high, but for the older generation, award ceremonies have become more of an occasion for social gathering and entertainment. Everybody comes in to catch up with other members of the fraternity and have a good time. Earlier, when the TV aspect of these shows wasn't that big, the awards did have an exclusivity or seriousness to them. However, once they started getting marketed as entertainment events, with big sponsorship money riding on them, everybody who is a somebody in the industry is getting into it for a quick buck. And so do the star performers," says an organiser of a recent awards show on condition of anonymity.