Indian Film Awards: A Study in Discrepancy?

Dhanush

Actor Dhanush receiving National Award for Best Actor from the Honorable President of India

Typical Indian films have a lot of information stuffed into one movie package. It has multiple attributes and most films will easily fit into multiple genres. There are movies that come out with strong social themes, which are relevant and essential, pertaining to the times we live in. With radical shift in culture and life practices, the young generation expects much more from an Indian movie than what is  offered now. For a hard-core movie buff to stand proud of our movies in the global arena, not only is there need for a marked improvement from the part of movie makers but also from the administration who are involved in censorship, awards selection and related activities. Many questions arise when we look into our recent past on the not so successful journey of Indian movies in the international stage.

Awards and their Dominance

There is a high negative correlation between the Indian films which receive National Award for Best Feature Film and the film that gets nominated for Best Foreign Film category from India for Academy Awards. Only once in the past two decades has the movie been same in both the cases (the Malayalam movie, Adaminte Makan Abu). One other fact to observe here is, 75% of the Best Feature Film awards has been bagged by Bengali, Malayalam and Hindi movies. Though Tamil and Telugu stands among top three in the number of movies produced per year, they very rarely get this award. Why are these aberrations? Should something be done?

Critics Version of Awards

When the Rajinikanth starrer Shivaji was released, it was screened in maximum number of theaters in  South India. The producers of the movie, Sun Pictures, had a keen watch on how the film performs in the Bollywood markets. Only after seeing its good show they committed on spending huge money for Enthiran (Robot in Hindi). Both the movies were seen by a wide range of audience across the country. Yet they were not in the good end of major National Awards. The Awards Committee has a different way of looking at things. Why is this difference between a movie made for commercial entertainment and a movie made for critic’s enjoyment?

Content Originality

The three movies which managed to get nominated for the Academy Awards (Mother India, Salaam Bombay and Lagaan) dealt with social problems and an attempt to overcome them while holding love and dignity above everything else. A look into the past would suggest any person to look for movies that has a similar theme. What made the selection committee  choose Jeans (1998), Devdas (2002) and Eklavya (2007) when there were so many other original options available? How can a theme borrowed or put into Anurag Basu’s (Director of Barfi) words, ‘inspired’ from multiple Hollywood movies attract an Academy Award?

Eklavya- The Royal Guard

Did Eklavya really deserve to be nominated for the Oscars?

The Quest for Awards and Recognition

If we look at the Hollywood movies which receive Golden Globe and Academy Awards, they seem to be, more often than not, box office successes. Be it the Titanic or the Lord of the Rings (Part III), they were both successful at awards and revenue collections. It had the liking of world audience, too. But in the Indian scenario, the award winning movies rarely run a houseful show in theaters. There are few exceptions for the Indian movies which got selected for Academy Award nomination. Movies like Lagaan, Jeans, Indian and few others were hugely successful in satisfying the producers and distributors.

There are many other questions that linger unanswered too. The salary commanded by top movie actors are so high that the prize money through Best Actor Award will look negligible. The International Indian Film Awards recognizes only Hindi language movies. Despite winning maximum awards, Bengali and Malayalam film industries are struggling for their survival. In spite of the growth in use of predictive intelligence, only 10% of the movies made gives profitable returns to producers. The love for movies latent in our heart yearns for positive replies for such and many such questions in the near future.

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