IIFA nominations open secret
Of late, Bollywood award nights have come under serious scrutiny. While veterans like Aamir Khan have openly shunned Bollywood awards and questioned their credibility for years, it took Kareena Kapoor's candid remark in February to finally spark an open debate.
"Those who don't attend, their names are never declared in award ceremonies. Those who don't deserve get the awards and those who deserve land up enjoying pizzas at home," she said, blowing the lid off what is perhaps Bollywood's worst kept secret.
More often than not, it seems as if the award ceremonies have been designed to appease stars and not to honour true talent. And if you pore through the winner list, you may even wonder if the awards are dictated by a star's popularity — and their attendance (or not) at the actual event.
At the recent Star Screen Awards, for example, both Khans — Salman and Shah Rukh — turned up and both walked home with the Best Actor trophies in very similar categories. While King Khan won in the Best Popular Actor category for My Name Is Khan, the Dabangg star won the Best Actor (Jury) award.
To get to the bottom of it, tabloid! caught up with actor Anil Kapoor upon his return from Canada where he unveiled the The International Indian Film Academy [IIFA] Awards, to be held there in June. Kapoor is also nominated at the awards, as best actor in a comic role, for No Problem.
"To be honest with you, it has become more of a TV event," Kapoor said over the telephone from Mumbai. "I don't have to say it, I think everybody knows about it. There is no science to it or rocket science to it. Basically, it's all very clear — all these events are based on who or which star gets the maximum TRPs [television ratings].
"But I am not trying to run down everybody or anything. But that's how things are and what can you really do about it?"
His fatalistic attitude is revealed further when he adds: "Everyone has — to a certain extent — to succumb to it, which is sad. But what to do — that's how it is."
So what made him a supporter of this year's IIFAs?
"When IIFA first asked me to come many years back, I was like ‘Arre yaar yeh koi TV ka event hoga' [this must be some TV event or something]. I didn't take them seriously. I didn't even meet them once or twice. And I thought, since I am not attending they will give the award to someone else. But that year, I won two awards," Kapoor said.
Translation? Every popular Indian TV channel hosts a Bollywood awards nights, replete with incredible star wattage. While Star Plus has the Star Screen Awards, Zee TV hands out its own set of awards at the Zee Cine Awards. Bollywood magazines like Filmfare also hand out their own clutch of awards. Unlike Hollywood events, where most nominees for an award put in an appearance, at Bollywood ceremonies, the stars who attend the ceremony invariably walk home with the statuettes.
But as Kapoor claims, despite him turning down the invitation to attend the IIFA ceremony, he still won awards for his films Taal and Biwi No 1 in 2000, "that proved that there was integrity and credibility in the winning process at IIFA.
IIFAs director Sabbas Joseph echoes Kapoor's sentiments. "We don't have a magazine to run, we don't have a television channel to run and we certainly don't have a film company to run," he said.
"It is completely credible, the winning process. For instance, Amitabh Bachchan did not come to the IIFA last year nor did Vidya Balan, but they still won the Best Actor awards. Shah Rukh Khan has not come to the IIFAs for all the three times that he actually won the award. So, there have been times when we have taken all the effort to fly in nominees from around the world, but the winner is somebody who did not make it."
The Oscars' accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers — who count the Academy votes and keep them secret until the envelopes are opened — are the official auditors of IIFA, Joseph stressed, and stars are only paid if they perform at the event, not to attend. "Because there are so many award ceremonies out there, it's tempting to put IIFA in a box. For us, star attendance doesn't matter. PwC audits the entire process."
Said Kapoor, "Everybody is made of different mettle and everybody handles Bollywood in a different way. I have been fortunate since there are times when I got awards when I least expected them. I keep wondering why they are giving me awards. You see, I take everything as a journey where I have a lot of fun. If I go for an award [ceremony], I go to have fun. I don't take it too seriously."
Celebrating the worst
There is a flip side to the back-slapping. In 2010, the Bollywood equivalent to Hollywood's Razzies, the Ghanta Awards, were launched, inviting Bollywood buffs to vote on the worst of Bollywood. "I remember reading an article about it being the 30th anniversary of the Razzies last year and thinking: How does such a prolific industry like Bollywood not have something like this? That's how the idea was born," said Prashanth Rajkhowa, founder of the Ghantas in an e-mail.
"I wanted it to be a celebration of the worst of Bollywood and didn't want it to be a show of ridicule and mockery. The movies that were nominated had to actually be badly-made films rather than films you didn't like."
While Aishwarya Rai Bachchan won the dubious honour of the Worst Actress for Robot and Raavan, Uday Chopra's romantic comedy Pyaar Impossible [PI] was adjudged the worst film. Though industry insiders didn't look kindly towards the cheeky rebuff, actor Chopra was more sporting. After being bestowed the distinction of acting in the worst film, he tweeted: "I know I shouldn't be tweeting this but found it hard to resist. PI wins worst film. Im actually excited by this..lol."
His sportsmanship hasn't gone unnoticed.
"Uday Chopra's tweet showed that people are sporting enough and can laugh at themselves. We hope to reach a point like Razzies where actors like Sandra Bullock and Halle Berry acknowledge it," added Rajkhowa.
Despite the storm brewing regarding awards, the stars are generally upbeat.
Rising star Ranvir Singh — who won eight awards this year for his debut performance in Band Baaja Baarat — feels the biggest award was when he heard the audience laugh at his character's dialogues.
"I was welcomed with both arms by Bollywood. But the award that is closest to my heart, is a moment. The moment when I sat in the theatre and heard the ripple of laughter from the audience. There's no beating that. That to me is my biggest award."
Kapoor agrees. "I take my work seriously. Everything else is more about fun and enjoyment. And remember: sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. You have to take all that with a pinch of salt and move ahead in life."
Zee’s selection process
tabloid! spoke to Mohan Gopinath, Business Head of the Zee Cine Awards, on how their awards are selected.
How are Zee Cine Award winners chosen and nominations filed?
We have an in-built expertise team to shortlist the names in each and every category — this is a thorough screening process. [After] that, we throw open a few categories to the viewers' discretion. There is a healthy [balance between] the viewer and internal jury selection.
There are at least six award ceremonies held every year in Bollywood. How does ZCA maintain its credibility and fairness?
Meritocracy is the only parameter in the nomination and the winning process. If you were to look at the awards given over the years, there were instances where the performance gained merit over popularity.
What do you have to say to all those who feel Bollywood awards are led by star-attendance rather than on merit?
Holding on to the viewers' interest is as important as the performance of the stars during an awards ceremony. But we take a holistic approach to the entire event.
The emphasis is to ensure that the event is smooth, fair and is talked [about] long after the curtains come down.
Aamir Khan and Kareena Kapoor are very vocal in questioning the credibility of Bollywood award shows.
Salman Khan (Dabangg) and Shah Rukh Khan (My Name Is Khan) won Best Actor trophies in very similar categories at the recent Star Screen Awards.
IIFA 2011 nominations
Best Film Nominees