Sorry for blog silence. University stress hit me like a ton of bricks and my head hasn't been in the right place for Indian film watching/pondering. Except now. Thanks for the overwhelming response to the celeb Tweet posts, I promise I'll try to do more in the future.
So news hit today of various National Award winners and though I haven't seen that much response coming from people who enjoy Bollywood, there is some, and it is somewhat puzzled. People are used to thinking of Filmfare, Stardust etc as fluffy award ceremonies - watched for the stars, the performances, the red carpet photos and acceptance speeches. Nobody is necessarily under any illusion that the best movie will win, or the best actor, or indeed anybody. And yet the consensus seems to also be that it's nice to see your favourite films get a bit of honor.
National Awards is a different ballgame. This is the respectable, considered stuff. This is the stuff some Malayalam film you've never heard of wins. This is the awards Shyam Benegal has piles of in his cupboards. This is the awards that truly seems to look at Indian cinema at a whole; all industries. Therefore the winners are typically from Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Bengali.. the biggest non-Hindi industries, with the occasional Hindi winner here and there (for example, the category for Best Popular Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment is pretty much always a Hindi film). The winers are typically from alternative, more arthouse cinema.
The reason I lay down these basics is that it seems some people are puzzled and a bit miffed that Priyanka Chopra got the Best Actress Award for Fashion. It does seem a bit odd. If they are looking at all 2008 Indian films, it would seem odd that Priyanka Chopra's, whose skills have frankly never really impressed me, rates above all of them. I haven't seen Fashion, but even so. I'm not against her winning; I just find it somewhat surprising.
With that said, I'm stuck because I keep landing on the question; does it matter?
The pictures in this post are of past National Award winners (none in the films their won for). Vikram won Best Actor for Pithamagan in 2004 and the next year, Saif Ali Khan won the same award for .. wait for it ... Hum Tum. Shabana Azmi has won Best Actress more times than I can count.
Vikram I'll honestly agree with, because I think even if I distanced myself from my insane love for his masala fare, the step he took as an actor in Pithamagan and Bala's direction complementing it is well enough. Saif's an odd choice. Especially for Hum Tum. I mean, I love him and I adore the movie - it's among my most rewatched Bollywood flicks of all time - but ...a National Award? In the same year he had Ek Hasina Thi? Oh, if only they'd known to wait for Omkara..
So there have definitely been quizzical choices in the past. And I'm sure every time somebody you've seen in a movie that didn't blow you away will grab one of these, it'll be a bone of contention. If it's a Southie flick you've never heard of, you're not likely to argue the issue, right?
But as I asked before, does it really matter, what wins and what doesn't? Be it National Awards, Filmfare, Stardust or Na-real? The more the global media is getting psyched about the Oscars and whether Avatar (ugh let's not go there again) will sweep it, the less I realize I genuinely care. I mean, don't get me wrong, I love some Oscar-winning films a ton. And sometimes those awards, be they from European movie festivals, Indian award ceremonies or the Oscars, make me appreciate the films I love even more. But in general, I don't really care. I rarely end up watching the Oscar-winning films. I don't necessarily even bother to keep up with what's winning what on the Bolly side of things.
What makes a film stand the test of time? I mean, we forget about stuff all the time, because there's only so many things you can remember. I suppose the worst thing for a film is not necessarily to bomb in the box office or not win any awards, but to be forgotten in the public consciousness. Not be remembered as a film worth watching, or simply not remembered at all. I remember looking through the list of past Filmfare winners and noticed some films I'd never even heard of. Consider for example, Be-Imaan, which swept the Filmfares in 1972. You seen it? You heard of it? '72 being the year of such films as Seeta aur Geeta and Pakeezah. How come those two are much more well-known and watched than this award-winner (as far as I know anyway)?
I don't know, how do you feel about this? Do awards matter in the long run? Or are they just good for entertainment, a bit of TV programming with stars, glitz and filmi jokes? What truly makes a film classic, one people will remember decades from now?