It’s no secret that the Bollywood awards circus is an absurd exercise in glamour and spectacle, devoid of any sort of credibility or actual recognition of excellence. From award shows lasting till the early hours of the morning, to categories being invented on the spot, to ensuring all attending stars getting an award in return – we’ve all heard our fair share of infamous Bollywood award tales. Who can forget the grand categories over the years like ‘Best Superstar Of The Next Gen’ or ‘Best Global Icon Of The Year’ or my personal favourite the ‘Nothing To Hide Award’.
As we submit ourselves to yet another nonsensical Bollywood awards season, to celebrate the spirit of the sheer unintentional entertainment value, we asked a number of industry insiders what their most ridiculous award show experiences are.
Karunesh Talwar, Comic
I wrote for an awards show a few years ago. It just after the Nirbhaya case had happened in Delhi. Before the show started, the organisers decided they wanted to play a horrid AV that talked about the incident in graphic detail. It was very disturbing and also bragged about the award show’s parent company and their stellar coverage of the Nirbhaya case. So they came to the writers and gave me a blank piece of paper and a pen and said, “We want you to write a funny link that goes from the AV to the beginning of the show and then the host will take over.” They also said “you’re going to have to say this on the microphone”. I refused outright. Finally what happened was pretty much that. The AV ended. There was a hushed silence in the whole room and everybody was just sad and then the host comes on stage in a white suit and shouts “Movies must be magic!” and just went on with the show like none of that ever happened.
Saiwyn Quadras, Screenwriter
I was nominated for Neerja in the Best Screenplay category. Usually, the technical awards, including writing, are given out first because hardly anyone comes and it’s a random set of people giving you the awards. The technicians don’t even get the chance to speak. This time, the Best Dialogue and Best Story category was announced but the Best Screenplay was nowhere. I waited because I thought they had forgotten about it. Then they started announcing the popular awards and that year Mr Bachchan won Best Actor for Pink. Finally, after that, they announced the Best Screenplay awards and I thought ‘wow for the first time they’ve realised the importance of a screenplay and how it’s the hero of a film and that’s why they’ve put it at the end!’ I won and I went on stage and during my speech I even said that it’s so great that the screenplay is being given so much importance. Later a friend in the events team told me it was only because Mr Bachchan had to leave early, so they had to reshuffle things and put all the popular categories earlier. Later, when the awards finally aired TV, they had edited it around so that the original order was maintained.
Anonymous Account From A Former Presenter Hosting The Red Carpet
I was around 24 when I got my first opportunity to attend a Bollywood awards function. I was asked to cover it for a radio channel. It was a gig I wasn’t paid anything extra for, but just to be there, surrounded by all the biggest names in Bollywood, I thought I had made it. I realised there’s a reason these awards aren’t broadcast live – no one arrives on time ever. The red carpet is not an event that occurs before the award ceremony, it’s something that goes on simultaneously. Winners receive awards, losers go home empty handed, and celebrities keep walking up and down the red carpet the entire night. It was fascinating to see Shah Rukh Khan be taken back to the red carpet after the whole ceremony was over, so a camera crew could film him entering the venue and it was edited later into the opening montage.
Anonymous Account Of A Young Filmmaker
Around 6 years ago they called Salman Khan and told him he’d get an award if he turned up, but he said can’t make it. So then they called Akshay Kumar instead and he agreed. On the day of the event both of them turned up and Salman realised he wasn’t getting an award so he stormed off and sat in his car. When Akshay Kumar realised that Salman Khan had turned up for the same award, he also walked off and sat in his car. So both these megastars were sulking in their cars and the event guys with walkie talkies were running up and down between them saying ‘no, no even you’re getting one’. Finally, they invented random categories so both their egos could be satisfied. One got something like Best Entertainer and the other Best Popular Choice.
Ritesh Shah, Screenwriter
Many of these award shows are ticketed and after a point, nobody follows the rules. People just cross over and sit where they want to. On one occasion I won an award and I was sitting there thinking about what it means and how sacred it is. Then random guests came and casually started borrowing my trophy so they could take selfies and videos with it and act as if they’d won it. Initially, it was just 4-5 people and eventually, it became 50 people passing it around and I was in mortal fear of losing the award. I had to track it down later. So it’s not like you’re seen as a winner where people care who you are. You’re some guy with a trophy they can take selfies with.