Time For Film Award Ceremonies To Undergo An Overhaul, Says Halitha Shameem

In a guest column, writer-director Halitha, who made the lyrical Sillu Karupatti, questions the goings-on in award ceremonies, and asks that all films be treated equally on stage.
Time For Film Award Ceremonies To Undergo An Overhaul, Says Halitha Shameem

I've personally never been fascinated by the glitz and glamour of the film industry, especially when it comes to foreign tours and award functions. My films, too, are set in a universe far removed from them. But I see these events as a way for actors to bond with each other, which is good.

What upsets me is the way award ceremonies function. To invite all nominees and declare the winner at the event is too much to ask for in our industry. What happens here is that awardees are asked when they would like to come by and collect their awards and who they would like to present them the award. 

How lovely it would be if the entire fraternity turned up to applaud for all winners. It calls for patience and a heart, though. A few years ago, I watched dismayed as one team walked in to loud applause, accepted all the awards the film won, and left. The team of the next important film walked in, only after the first team left. Depending on this, the order of announcing the awards changed. When this happens, the event organisers are compelled to focus on a team and give away the awards they have won, before moving on to other categories. 

For example, if a film has won for best costume designer, stunts, and best actor, the presenters give away the awards to them in this particular order and see the stars off. The idea seems to be to ensure that enough stars attend the event, but at their convenience. Is this healthy at all?

Thanks to this, we are missing out on something so vital: order. There is a reason award ceremonies the world over stick to a pre-determined order that makes creative sense and is just. The acting awards must be given in a stretch. The writing awards: story, screenplay, dialogues and lyrics must go together. The director's award must join this group too. The technical awards must be grouped together. They cannot be scattered and given away piecemeal, depending on the popularity of the awardees or their availability.

A still from <em>Sillu Karupatti</em>, directed by Halitha
A still from Sillu Karupatti, directed by Halitha

If the focus is only on TRP and filmmakers such as me, who are not often in the public eye, don't feed this TRP, the smart choice is to not invite us, rather than call us and let us know we are not that important, after all! I've won two awards at the Chennai International Film Festival, organised by the Indo Cine Appreciation Foundation, with the support of the State Government, where I felt respected as a creator.

Yes, we make films and we are invited on stage to entertain the presenter, usually a heroine, for the sake of TRP. I am even willing to dance to their tune or teach someone on stage, but seeking a little respect is not asking for too much.

I see a desperate need for change: from the film fraternity (which needs to be there in strength, to support every artiste and technical person), from award anchors (do understand that we are creators/artistes, and treat us with a little dignity and compassion) and from those organising the awards ceremony (appreciate the stars, but also the art!)

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