The 90th Academy Awards held yesterday was not just a celebration of the movies but also a powerful platform that artists effectively used to speak about pressing issues like diversity in Hollywood and better opportunities for women. Sadly, Indian award shows are nowhere near achieving that. Here they are still largely entertainment shows for television packed with dance performances by stars, and awards are arbitrarily handed out to whoever chooses to attend. That explains why people from the industry, many of whom have even won awards themselves, question the integrity of such functions. They agree that these are blatantly populist, people-pleasing spectacles and serve more as a song-and-dance shows than award ceremonies. Here’s what artists have told us about these events:
Saif Ali Khan
“If we’re taking ethical stands and we think about it – there’s no such thing as an awards function that I’ve been to. It’s the biggest joke in the world. Every channel has their own awards show, so they give these guys awards for turning up. And then they make amazing categories like ‘Most Beautiful Smile’ and ‘Most Glamorous Diva’. You don’t remember who got Best Actor or for what.
We all turn up because let’s face it – we’re suckers. What really disturbs me is that it’s a lie because the material’s not funny. Nobody is making a funny joke but they intercut it with everybody laughing because there’s a laugh track. You make a bad joke and people at home would say, “I don’t know if that’s funny” but everybody in the audience is laughing, except they’re not. So it’s a con and the only people really being cheated are the audience that’s there.
It’s actually a disturbing thing deep down. It’s completely false. There’s not enough money spent on the humour. There’s not enough money spent on the entertainment. Of course the songs and dances and everything that suits the sponsor is happening. I am worried about TV. I think they all try and create an alternate universe when that box is on and it’s got nothing to do with reality. When things are funny, they should be genuinely funny. Personally, if I need the money, I’ll go. But if I can help it, I would stay a mile away.”
“I don’t believe in them. I know how it works. How many awards are there? Countless. And their criteria isn’t giving awards – it’s to have a show which is sold on television as software. And to have that software and to get more money out of it, like filmmaking, you need as many actors as possible.
They tell you, ‘If you come, we will give you this award.’ Is that award fair? Do I have to waste time to go there? At the end of the day, what am I feeling even if I get that award? Nothing. I went, attended or performed and got this award. There is nothing more to it. So I don’t believe in it. There’s a lot of money involved in it but I think there are better ways to make money than to do anything and everything.”
“I only go if they’re giving me an award. I tell them, ‘Either you pay me because I do television and I know how it works, or you give me an award.’ You’ll never see me there if I’m not getting an award because it’s all manipulated. If I’m giving you three hours of my face for television, give me an award or give me money.”
“They treat you like a liability. It’s just about respect. It’s not about how you send invites. You send one to an actor – it’s a real invite. For writers and other technical crew, you don’t even invite. Two years ago, the DoP of Masaan Avinash Arun was nominated. He didn’t even get an invite for Filmfare! Nobody gave a fuck about this thing. Will it happen that Salman is winning an award and he’s not even invited?”