January 07, 2011

Why Awards Matter

I am not a fan of the Oscars. But I still give a lot of importance to them. And, in my opinion, it is good to give just the right importance to everything. How to judge that is tricky, but worth a try.

There was a time when Filmfare awards meant a lot. I remember watching them for the first time with my brother and mom. I also remember complaining when Anand Bakhshi won the Best Lyrics Award for ‘Tujhe dekha toh ye jaana sanam’. My 11-year old self believed his ‘Ho gaya hai tujhko toh pyaar sajna’ was more deserving. Seven years later, I suffered my first heartbreak when the music of ‘Devdas’ lost to that of ‘Saathiya’. Filmfare lost its importance for me. But not its significance. I am not a fan of the Oscars. But then I am not a fan of any award given for cinematic excellence. Still, it is impossible for me to ignore them altogether.

An award should never be taken very seriously. The winner of the Best Film need not be the best film of the year. In fact, it need not even be the best among the nominees. The winning film is just the most popular first choice among the jury (with or without the audience vote). But the film that wins does manage to generate a reaction. The Academy nomination of ‘Lagaan’ had resulted in the release of that film in countries oblivious to Hindi cinema. I have friends from the US who have not watched many Indian films, but have watched ‘Lagaan’. This increased penetration of a film into untapped audiences is the greatest advantage of winning an award, especially a popular one. And this means a lot more to a small, off-beat film.

Some unavoidable circumstances had forced me to spend a month with my family at Patna. All work had to be paused. This also explains my silence on this blog for such a long time. This morning my brother and I got the news of ‘Udaan’ winning the Best Film and the Best Director awards, and two more, at Screen Awards. It was the morning we took our train to Mumbai, and this was the best news we could have shared with our parents while leaving. I am on the train at this moment and the news of these awards is truly the biggest inspiration for both of us. For the first time in more than two decades, an unconventional, ‘small’ film, that didn’t do well at the box-office, has been awarded the Best Film award at a popular award function in this country. Being a part of that film is special. But even more special is the hope that it has rekindled in me, that good cinema will eventually find its way to its audience.

Last night a friend of mine was talking with me about the fourteen nominations ‘Udaan’ got at the Screen Awards. The results were not out then. But just those nominations, he said, were enough for his financial banker colleagues to take a notice of this film that they had missed. They now want to grab the DVD. If nominations could do that, hope the wins cause a more widespread awareness for the film, something its limited publicity could not achieve. For films like these, at least, awards do matter a lot.


  1. Awards act as a great boost for 'small' films. And Udaan is my one of the all time favourites.

    So many scenes in the film looked so real, I felt as if I was standing next to Rohan and listening his conversations with his father.

  2. There are two things a filmmaker desperately seeks:
    1. Audience for his current film
    2. Finance for his next

    Winning an award opens the doors for both. More than a proof of his excellence, an award opens the door for increased opportunities. For an artist practicing such an expensive art, it is all that matters. Going on the stage and giving the victory speech is just a part of PR exercise.

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  4. Udaan winning wards has reimposed my faith in the indian awards system...No rigging or underhand dealings here atleast...films like Udaan deserve to be araded for the fearlessness of the script, for the intensity of the work and above all for the paradigm change films like this can bring about in a country such as ours...

  5. Even before I watched the movie, I knew it would be special. I sort of have a blind faith on Anurag Kashyap. And then I watched it. I had goosebumps when Rohan was reciting "Chhoti chhoti chitrayee yaadein," felt pity for the dad and frustration for Rohan who cannot convince his father, when he recited "Jo lehron se aage.." and almost could feel the same anger and hatred when his dad burns his diary(I don't know what I would have done if someone did that to me). I became a fan of the movie and of course, you. And even though I, much like you, don't give any importance to awards, I am still very happy that Udaan won something. I hope more people watch it now and know what they missed.

    ** Udaan was my favorite movie of the year 2010.

  6. सत्यांशु, उड़ान को सर्वश्रेष्ठ फ़िल्म और सर्वश्रेष्ठ निर्देशक का पुरस्कार मिलना जैसे हम सबकी साझी खुशी है. अभी कुछ दिन पहले मेरे पसन्दीदा लेखक उदय प्रकाश को साहित्य अकादमी मिला, और अब ’उड़ान’ को मिला स्क्रीन अवार्ड. हमारे लिए तो दरअसल यह इन पुरस्कारों की विश्वसनीयता बढ़ाने वाली बात है.

  7. Watching Rohan recite Choti choti chitrai yadein...made me realise i havent read any after school. Jo beet gai so baat gayi by Harivanshrai Bachchan....was d only one that has stayed with me. And now thanks to You and Udaan, Choti Choti... will remain with me forever. Congratulations and i wish that u continue writing ever so beautifully.

  8. :) :) :) :) :) :) :)

  9. Thanks all...

    @Deepti: I have a bad news to share. Over the last three years, I feel my poetry has lost a lot of itself. I had written 'Chhoti chhotti chhitrayi yaadein' three years ago... And I can't still beat it... Guess I have stopped growing. :(

    BTW, after 7 Filmfare awards, I felt great again. But With Karan Johar winning Best Director for My Name Is Khan, I feel embarrassed to say that Filmfare awarded 'Udaan'...

    It spoiled all the fun...