In defence of awards…

In times when it’s fashionable to slam film awards, the wonderful response to the 21st Annual Life OK Screen Awards and its outcome, points to the merits of having them

Written by Priyanka Sinha Jha | Mumbai | Published: January 30, 2015 1:00 am
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With the 21st Annual Life OK Screen Awards behind us, one has the luxury to reflect and reminisce about the bitter- sweet moments. Well, let’s start with the sweet memories: I have to put in a special mention of Rajkumar Hirani and Vidhu Vinod Chopra. With a blockbuster hit like PK to their credit, it was but natural to assume that they would be riding high on what a producer friend terms, “the arrogance of creativity”. However, that was certainly far from the truth. My faith was happily restored in the film industry’s heart being in the right place when Hirani, universally acknowledged as Bollywood’s best director, graciously landed up to collect his award for the Best Dialogues instead of the Best Film. If he was disappointed, he did not show it and he certainly did not go about casting aspersions on the Jury’s choice for Best Film and Best Director (both categories, in which he was a serious contender for the top honours). The award in the aforementioned categories went to Queen and its director Vikas Bahl respectively, but Hirani was the perfect nominee. Co-producer Vidhu Vinod Chopra too called and reproached me for thinking that they would be upset at not winning the award. He went on to praise Queen, the winner of the Best Film Award, acquiescing that it was a very good film, totally deserving of the award bestowed on it! To say, that you could have knocked me down with a feather would be an understatement!
In times when everyone is issuing a cynical diktat on award ceremonies, their gracious acceptance of the Jury’s verdict was a welcome surprise.
But there were several others who showed solidarity and support in myriad ways. Film-maker Prakash Jha who is known to keep away from award functions (he did not come even in the year that his film Aarakshan won the Ramnath Goenka Memorial Award) bought into my argument that awards, in order to have even a degree of credibility require the film industry’s unstinting support. And much to our collective delight he dropped in unconditionally just for the cause of good cinema. Padmini Kolhapure was there too, with son Priyank to root for sis Tejaswini, Ramesh Sippy and Subhash Ghai showed solidarity, and Saif Ali Khan stepped in to felicitate Sajid Nadiadwala. Senior actor Jeetuji (Jeetendra) too became a part of the proceedings and presented the Lifetime Achievement Award to erstwhile co-star Hema Malini. Kiran Shantaram and Ila Arun, Sudhir Mishra, Neetu Chandra, Anshuman Jha, Richa Chadha, Aditi Rao Hydari, Alka Yagnik, Bappi Lahiri, Ramesh Taurani, Sonali Bendre Behl, Goldie Behl, Tusshar, Ramesh Taurani and our esteemed members of the Jury: Biswajit Chatterjee, Milan Luthria, Prem Chopra, Rajkumar Gupta, Sanjay Chhel, Subhash Kapoor and Vijay Krishna Acharya, all turned up to support good cinema; cinema that innovates and reinvents.
Even noteworthy nominees did not pull rank and trooped in and joined the celebrations—Juhi Chawla, Randeep Hooda, Riteish Deshmukh, Resul Pookutty, Ketan Mehta, Omung Kumar, Siddhanth Kapoor, Niharika Singh, Kiara Advani, and Kriti Sanon, Armaan Jain, Sandhya Mridul, Darshan Kumar, Aarti Bajaj, Rishikesh Joshi, Girish Kulkarni, Vineet Kumar Singh, Tejaswini Kolhapure, Mrinal Kulkarni, Sonali Kulkarni and Rajkummar Rao being among them. May this tribe increase.
Given the industry support and goodwill, one is compelled —even at the risk of sounding prejudiced—to overlook the cynical view that surrounds award functions. And considering that like every year divergent and undiscovered gems (Ankhon Dekhi, Filmistaan, Manjunath and Ugly to name a few) have made their way into the mainstream consciousness, there is reason for cheer. Talent, films and subjects that existed in the periphery till now, have taken centrestage. For that alone, awards with warts and all, are good news.

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