Thursday, January 29, 2009

Rewarding Mediocrity

Ash and Akshay get Padmas. What's next? Bravery award for Raju? ... goes the MTV tickr

Spot on. Bollywood is filled with extremely un-creative people. A Hum Aapke Hain Kaun spawned a million clones. In any other movie industry, the HAHK phenomenon would be accepted as a meme and the industry would proceed to make a few clones with increasing sophistication. But no siree not bollywood. We'll make a few thousand clones all worse than the last. Anyone with half a brain can tell that the "Formula" only works if the next one is better but the marketers believe that Bigger is better. Script? screenplay? direction? huh? wazzat? pour money into glossy cinematography and other technical stuff imported from the southern film world, market ad nauseum and run away with the money to the bank after the weekend is over. Marriage dramas, "Phamily" kitsch, glossy gangsters, gangster comedy, encounter dramas etc. etc. are well abused memes. The latest one seems to be college gang chronology.

Getting back to Ash and Akshay... now what the hell is Ash's "contribution" to the Indian movie industry? Can she even act? Has she done critically acclaimed, hard to do, stereotype breaking, socially conscious roles? Has she been a force multiplier getting young women to look up to a forceful, conscionable personality? What the hell has she done except being the Bachchan bahu? Akshay while probably being more deserving (more of course is relative) has done nothing much either. He does more than the average bollywooders share of socially responsible stuff like his support of the mumbai constable's family, helping Indian sport by adopting wrestlers etc. but does that deserve a Padma for Art? The likes of Abhay Deol, Rahul Bose, Konkana Sen who are good versatile actors are few and far between. Even the average actors who can pull their weight at the box office like Priyanka, Akshay, Hrithik are scarce and actors who are both good, versatile and box office heavyweights is actually singular. Aamir.

This award is all the more unconscionable when juxtaposed by the blind-eye the awards have shown to our olympic pugilists. In a country of a Billion with fewer than 50 million middleclass where almost half the burden of emancipation of women, the poor and the socially downtrodden is taken up by activists and social workers can't we find people more worthy of a national award equivalent to a knighthood? Aishwarya and Akshay are my Knights? Are you bloody kidding me? We have so many cultures and art forms and you can't find a koothaadi or a lavani artiste? We have an exciting advertising industry that has been reaping awards, can't we award them any? If we can RTI the admission criteria for IIMs, we can RTI the award criteria for the awards.

That we need to relook if the Govt. is capable of judging Indians worty of celebration is a point taken for granted. But since the Padmas aren't going to go away anytime soon, we need to make the awards process transparent and the lobbying system banished.

Bollywood doesn't have a professional body to give awards. The supposedly impartial judges at say an IIFA can't even make the difference between Indian Cinema and Bollywood. And even if it did have an academy, the awards will probably go to incompetents like Kat Kaif and Karan-Chopra types. We might insititute a raspberry awards clone and award one for EVERY bollywood movie and actor except the 4 or 5 a year that make it past the average quality mark.

The Padma's and other such awards are supposed to be a celebration of excellence by Indians in various fields. You and I pay for it. Its time we started to demand accountability for our money in this too.

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