Shobhaa’s Take 28th Jan 2009
Sorry…. The Jury is out on this one…
Kitney aadmi the ??
All awards are essentially bogus. That’s the horrible truth. I should know. I have been on several juries and what do you know, even received the odd award . Most of them fully faltoo . Which is why I can say this authoritatively - I don’t know of a single award that is either fair or free. Genuine and legitimate. Strings attached?? You bet. It’s a toss up between manipulation and money – you need one or the other (both, preferably), to make those lists. When even the lofty Nobel’ s credentials have been questioned ( cherchez the Japanese!), what remains?? Now India’s once- prestigious Padmas ( distributed like channas on Chowpatty beach these days), have come under a cloud and the aam janata is left wondering why so-and-so got it and so-and-so didn’t. From movie stars to cricketers, top cops to biz leaders, there is heart burn and suspicion( “ Woh kiska chamcha hai…?”), as the also- rans accuse the powers that be of favouritism and prejudice. Don’t they know ? It’s all about tel-maalish-champi (Johnny Walker – where are you when we need you the most?)… and fierce lobbying with Dilli ‘contacts’ ( kitney aadmi the?). A senior journo commented with a laugh, “ It actually begins and ends with the boy and girl in Delhi. If they like you and recommend you , that’s it. You have to become their BFFs.” Any guesses as to the identity of the ‘boy’ and ‘girl’ ? Come on… take a crack at it. The First Children, of course! Whether or not this is correct, it is true that this year’s rather strange list of recipients has got the chattering classes talking. We know Singh was Kinggggggg at the box office last year… but since when does an actor receive a Padma only because his movie raked in serious lolly? Does the commercial success of a nonsensical movie demand this recognition? I have nothing against Akshay – he’s pretty cute. But come on guys…. define the criteria. Akshayji ne kiya kya? Kaunsi kamaal ki cheez? Ditto for the lovely Aishwarya. What was her special achievement during the past twelve months?Or is that a stupid question. That leaves just one member of the Bachchan parivar who is still to receive this honour – Abhishek. Koi baat nahi… there’s always next year, bachchu.
As for our Olympicswallas (Vijendra Kumar and Sushil Kumar) who are most upset at being left out, clearly these chaps cannot be silenced . They failed to get the Padma ball rolling, and are peeved as hell. Abhinav Bindra stuck his neck out to question their omission – good of him. If it is any consolation at all,check out similar awards across the world in any category – beauty, movies, business, sports, science, the arts… you name it. Dig a little. Are any of them transparent? Naah! No lobbying, no award. Illey.I guess you can’t please them all - just as you can’t win them all. Jo ho gaya so ho gaya. The whole procedure has been demeaned and politicised to such an extent, that several self respecting worthies have decided to boycott awards altogether. Aamir Khan was the first Bollywood actor to take a position on this issue. A bold stand to take in that incestuous world.
Awards, as anybody in the know will tell you, are directly linked to commerce. Think back to the time our girls were winning each and every beauty pageant in sight. Was it really because India had the sole monopoly over beautiful women? Did no other country in the world produce beauties? The answer , my friend, was blowing in the wind. India’s humungous market was gradually opening up – there were shampoos, creams, lipsticks and blush-ons to be sold. The desi middle class had to be smoothly converted to using a range of useless cosmetics nobody really needed. The vast beauty products’ constituency had reached a saturation point back in America, South America and Europe. ‘Head East, young man’, was the clear message to those sharp marketing fellows peddling global brands. Voila! India became the juiciest destination….. and surprise, surprise ,our lovelies won crown after crown . This was no happy coincidence.Foreign shampoos and eye shadows are still rolling in. Watch – the next international pageant will be won by Miss China.
Business Awards? Strictly by rotation. The Old Boy’s Club makes sure of that. Tie that up to advertising budgets and you get a neat quid pro quo.Meanwhile tv channel partners scramble to interview the big honchos assembled for the honour – never mind that the same person may get picked up down the line for committing a major fraud (yoo hoo Ramalingam)…. but not before he has picked up a major award first. From Businessman of the Year to Conman of the Century is but a small leap! This embarrasses nobody. The chief guest (generally the finance minister, if not the prime minister) pretends to suffer from memory loss after the chest- thumping awardee is declared a persona non grata overnight, plus done time, or died….whatever. It’s back to business as usual the next time round.
Don’t even ask about film awards – those depend on heavy duty ‘setting’ (how I love that word!). These days, with a film award happening on a weekly basis, the matter has been further simplified – the actor who shows up at the function gets the award – baat khatam. A no- show automatically means no award. Got it, bro?? Categories? Not an issue – those can always be created at the nth moment. Nobody cares, so long as there is a star on stage and a statuette to take home. Sometimes, actors are required to sing and dance for their supper, err, award. Actors who perform at these shows are ‘guaranteed’ an award – provided they dance for free, or reduce their killer rates. If they are also sporting enough to keep the organisers’ beds warm, that’s a bonus. No pain, no gain – that’s the Bollywood mantra. Merit, talent and other incidentals - well, such traditional attributes are add-ons.Favour for favour is how it goes in the no nonsense, to- the- point world of movies. It has become so blatant, don’t be surprised if a complete dud walks away with a top award one of these days – check out the ‘setting’ and you’ll get the answer as to how he did it. Showbiz is ‘like that only’ - whether it’s tv or films. Audiences and fans are conned into thinking their opinions count. But each time they sms their choices, they only enrich the service providers and organizers, who laugh all the way to the bank! Oh oh… and don’t get fooled by those sealed envelopes that have been secured by top auditing firms – ha ha ha – isn’t that the biggest laugh? Pricewater House, are you reading this?
Awards R us…! They reflect our rotten world and represent our failings. If we applaud frauds and scamsters, go along with the pantomime, never question the credibility of award givers, accept mediocrity and refuse to challenge the credentials of dodgy recipients … well then, we deserve the dubious achievers thrust on us.Wonder what Symonds thinks of Bhajji’s Padma Shri. Well deserved or a monkey trick??