The 89th Academy Awards just concluded and it was made of many memorable moments.
From Dev Patel bringing along his beautiful saree-clad mother as his Oscar date…
...to Sunny Pawar rocking the Red Carpet.
From candy being showered on the guests…
...to the names for the biggest award being mixed up.
The envelope announcing Moonlight as Best Picture, held up by Jordan Horowitz, producer of La La Land, which was mistakenly declared the winner.
And from real-life hero Katherine Johnson, 98, appearing at the ceremony with the leading ladies of Hidden Figures…
...to Mahershala Ali becoming the first Muslim in Oscar history to hold the coveted trophy- a win that could not come at a better time.
From all this glory, cut to India where many watched this ceremony in the early hours of Monday morning. Many Indian movie buffs are bombarded with one question every Oscar season- why are we so excited about them?
Framing the question the other way round: why can’t we be so excited about Indian movie awards?
Here’s my submission.
1. There are so many of them it just doesn’t make sense.
Filmfare, Stardust, Cine Awards, Style Awards, and I lose track of any more. All I know is that Stardust honours those star babies who make a debut that year. So even if your kid is Athiya Shetty, there’s a consolation prize for you.
2. We barely ever recognize good films
There is always that one film that you know will sweep the awards- without having the slightest idea why. Extravaganzas which suck up more of your money and maybe give you cheap costume inspiration, take away all the prizes.
Fun fact: Best Picture awardee Moonlight was made with a budget of $1.5 million, a fraction of the budget of Dangal, and a smaller fraction of Bajirao Mastani.
3. The Bollywood Mutual Admiration Club
This is not to say that Hollywood isn’t one. But the inside jokes, meaningless performances, (more) token dances and the applause they receive, make our award shows look like a disgustingly repetitive super-posh Annual Day for people in showbiz where parents and kids cheer for each other.
4. Speaking of performances…
When was the last time you actually loved a dance or music performance in a Bollywood award show? Obscenely grand sets, actors descending from cranes or riding in on a bike, actresses being borne by backup dancers, barely waving their hands doing what qualifies as ‘dancing’. The heavy use of sets and fireworks makes the dance look like a farce.
Meanwhile, this is how you recreate a medley on stage.
5. Lifetime Achievement Tamasha
AKA the hunt for that one 60+ actor on whose songs we haven’t choreographed a medley yet. Seriously just stop.
6. This madness
Rekha’s face HAS to be zoomed into every time Amitabh Bachchan so much as sneezes. Because we cannot grow up.
7. We cannot unite for a cause
Except for the one event by the Mumbai Police every year. Even there, we see innumerable constables standing as the officials and stars enjoy a show supposedly dedicated to our guardians. Hypocrisy much?
To put this in perspective, think of Meryl Streep, her speech at the Golden Globes, and the “undeserved” standing ovation the “overrated actress” received today.
The Oscars this time were bluntly political, what with host Jimmy Kimmel leading an “undeserved” standing ovation to Meryl Streep just to flip a gigantic bird to POTUS Trump, and Best Foreign Film-winning director Asghar Farhadi accepting the award in absentia, in protest of the immigration ban by the US.
Many other guests, like Best Makeup awardee Alessandro Bertolazzi and Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal wore the ‘immigrant’ tag proudly. The accolades won by Moonlight- a story about a black, gay young man- also served to alleviate some of the #OscarsSoWhite accusations.
Our film industry refuses to own up to its accusations of nepotism, popular appeasement, unoriginality and superficiality. When we try to laugh at ourselves, the backlash to the AIB Roast is the result. When our stars comment on the political situation of the country, they are asked to leave the country and their films are boycotted.
But did the outrage to Aamir Khan’s statement stop anybody, almost a year later, from making his film the highest grosser of the year? And that, even before we came to know that the film plays the National Anthem, again, reinforcing his love for the country. Ditto with Shah Rukh Khan in Raees and Salman Khan with his numerous ‘redemptive’ flicks.
The Oscars aren’t infallible and Hollywood is definitely not the gold standard for cinema. But the award functions in our film industry- which leaps at the recognition to the late Om Puri in the ‘In Memoriam’ montage which was not accorded to him here- still have a long way to go.
Title image: bookmyshow