Each new season of film awards ostensibly celebrates the most successful and glamourous of Hindi cinema. Increasingly, as the “act” gets bigger with each passing year (more sponsors, more business-suited bigwigs bringing in monies and handing out trophies), these events also peel away the illusion-if any was left--of filmi functions as formulaic evenings. They caricaturize the industry more than represent it. Parts of it are laughable if not extremely predictable. At least that’s what the three recent events: Big Star Entertainment Awards 2012, 19th Annual Colors Screen Awards 2013 and Zee Cine Awards 2013 reflected. Each one was a clone of the other. It is a simple formula. At each event, the sets are a blinding mix of multi-hued laser beams, gold and gaudy backdrops, gilded chariots, palanquins, or cages that descend on stage with a self- absorbed star biding her time inside. Khiladis or anadis, they all ride in hauteur in leather and aviators on buzzy bikes, the last symbol of machoism in Hindi films. The same item numbers rock every show, lustily performed by the actors of the moment. Supporting dance troupes which used to mean a dozen talented people dancing around a star now are large hordes of orthopedically blessed dancers with elastic limbs whose body dynamics are as good if not better than the celebrity in the limelight. Limelight itself is now red in colour. The lyrics are folksy; accents English. Fevicol (Dabangg 2) is the product of the season, the fire brigade and the sigri (Khiladi 786) compete with Kareena Kapoor as good conductors of heat; daughters can be Vitamin ki golis (Matru Ki Bijli Ka Mandola) and Pandeyji (Salman Khan in Dabangg 2), the moron of the year.
And here, let’s be a tad argumentative: for all the media debates that Bollywood objectifies women, what about the way it represents policemen? Salman Khan’s Pandeyji in Dabangg 2 whistles like a road Romeo while on duty (thana pe aiye on duty, bajaye Pandeyji seeti). If the item girl is an object, what pray is Pandeyji?
What’s most predictable is the way these events are edited. We can all preempt those overwhelming expressions of delight, envy, love, respect displeasure, fun or bored reluctance (best represented by Karisma and Kareena’s father Randhir Kapoor). The camera will unerringly pan towards a ponderous if not sulking Jaya Bachchan and an elated Rekha the moment Big B is mentioned; Ranbir Kapoor will sportingly clap for Deepika Padukone (new breakup rules demand social elegance). Neetu Kapoor will blow kisses and wipe away a tear when her son Ranbir goes up the stage, Parineeti Chopra will whistle when her cousin sis Priyanka Chopra speaks, sings or just preens anywhere in the vicinity, Katrina Kaif will do everything under the sun not to smile when the anchors are at their idiotic best. All are repetitively dressed in designer gowns. So let’s not just blame Vidya Balan’s kanjeevarams. It’s the same difference.
Oh and anchors--all in black tuxedos, they alternate between effortful comedy and hysterical hamming trying to fit in the many new, meaningless award categories in their gab fest. If you didn’t cross check the facts, it’s difficult to remember who said what, where. Ayushman Khurana as the new flavor as is obvious, but Karan Johar, SRK, Abhishek Bachchan and Ritesh Deshmukh have said their pieces.
Finally, as the credits roll, stand by for the sponsors—there are so many behind each event, starting from airline partners to jewellery and mineral water sponsors that poor Husain Kuwajerwallah (of Indian Idol fame) almost choked while naming each sponsor at the Zee Cine Awards recently—it was the longest, verbally spoken, smiling monologue that listed sponsors. Can’t bet, but it looked like a top star had refused to recite this sponsor data by rote and Husain was called to be the foot soldier.