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.