Monday, November 20, 2006

And the Filmfare goes to...

Filmfare Awards continue to remain the Big Daddy of Indian film awards - probably because no other award has the might as big as that of Times of India behind it.

Starting from the 1950's, it was more of an exercise in bonhomie than any serious competition between actors. For the first quarter century or so, the awards were announced earlier and the ceremony was held to hand them over. And more often than not, one of the losing nominees landed up to hand over the trophy. For example, Amitabh Bachchan (Deewaar) handed over the trophy to Sanjeev Kumar (Aandhi).
Incidentally, Filmfare has a penchant for awarding the wrong ones... Sholay won one - just one - award as Deewaar swept away with everything except Best Actor! Anil Kapoor was given a prize for Beta, which was announced (by Dimple Kapadia) without opening the envelope! This angered Aamir Khan (in the running for Jo Jeet Wohi Sikandar) so much that he has boycotted the awards ever since!

But the legend continues - despite the predictability.
Every time, whenever Amitabh Bachchan wins a prize, there is a close up of Rekha. And vice versa. Salman dancing. Ergo, Katrina smiling. Whoever performs on stage HAS to be given an award. All things being equal, the bigger hit gets the award. Yash Chopra - if in the running - has to be given an award. If not, then Karan Johar needs to be given the award. Else, give a guy who will never get a nomination again!

The Oscar ceremony, I am told, has a time limit for acceptance speeches. Thankfully, the Indian 'guest is god' philosophy has resisted putting up any such norms - which is why the ceremony routinely overshoots the time limit of public functions in Bombay. Only the presence of the Chief Minister in the front row stops havaldaars from walking in and disconnecting the PA system!
Also, this has allowed some of the most hilarious, poignant and sometimes predictable moments of the awards.
Amitabh Bachchan, of course, should be given an award for accepting awards. All winners of the Best Playback Singer award obligingly sing a stanza from their winning song. The Best Villain trophy is always given out by the Police Commissioner and there is a charade about arresting the winner.
But the memorable ones far outweigh the predictable ones...
In 1969, Satyajit Ray turned up to give away the Best Actress prize to his protege - Sharmila Tagore for Aradhana.
Anupam Kher shared his Best Comedian trophy with Satish Kaushik - and Deven Varma (who was giving it away) asked for one of the backstage carpenters to come and carve up the trophy!
There is the slightly infamous incident when Shahrukh picked up his trophy and asked whom to pay for it!
Gulzar took a look at the envelope for Best Supporting Actress in 1989 (Rakhee - Ram Lakhan) and wistfully said, "Agar kuch saal pehle hota to pukar sakta tha - ajee sunti ho..."
In recent times, Abhishek Bachchan ran down the steps to the winner of the Best Supporting Actress. You can take liberties like that with your mother!
Ashok Kumar picked up his Lifetime Achievement award and quipped, "I have a new girl to sleep with tonight. I hope she comes alive..."
Dharmendra - after a Lifetime of no awards - gave a speech so long that he is probably still going on at the SNDT grounds!

Unlike Oscars, it has evolved into a full-blown ceremony only in the last decade thanks to burgeoning sponsor interest. Till the late-80s, it used to have awards in only about 10 categories.
It is, however, quite interesting to see that whenever there has been a 'landmark' performance, which has failed to make the cut in the standard categories, they have added a category to award it!
Aamir Khan (QSQT) was the first receipient of the Best Debut award.
Sadashiv Amrapurkar (Sadak) was the first Best Villain.
Shahrukh Khan (Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa) was the first Critic's Choice awardee.
Chinni Prakash (Jumma Chumma, Hum) was the first Best Choreographer.
A R Rehman (Roja) was the first winner of the RD Burman Award.
Sandeep Chowta (Satya) won the first award for Best Background Score.
And the funniest - Amitabh Bachchan was given the first Filmfare Lifetime Achievement the year his Agneepath lost out to Sunny Deol (Ghayal)! He has won more Filmfare awards AFTER the Lifetime Achievement trophy than before!
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