There’s a certain degree of prestige and acclaim that goes with awards and award functions. Movie awards are the most visible, and perhaps the most watched, of all award ceremonies. And while the number of movie awards has grown exponentially in the last couple decades, the Filmfare Awards have always been the biggest deal. There was a time when the Filmfares were to India what the Oscars are to America.
Indian kids of the 80s and 90s grew up believing in the sanctity of awards, and because some part of their childhood unfolded before the advent of cable television, a lot of us put a lot of stock in the Filmfare Awards. So much so, that there was a time we would argue that a Filmfare was as prestigious, and perhaps as difficult to earn, as an Oscar.
With time, however, the Filmfares have lost their sheen. They don’t shine as bright as they once did. And not only because a veteran actor like Rishi Kapoor recently revealed that he bought his first Best Actor Filmfare for ‘Bobby’.
Sometime in the 90s, instead of being an acknowledgement of excellence in cinema, the Filmfares morphed into popularity awards. Year after year, we sat and watched as mediocrity began being celebrated, nay awarded, and cinematic excellence was given a cold shoulder.
Here is a laundry list of the many times the Filmfare Awards got it so very very wrong!
In 1990, Salman bhai’s debut film (as hero) won Best Film, not because it was a better movie than its contemporaries, but because it was more popular. A lot of people still believe that this great movie should have won.
In 1993, Anil Kapoor was named Best Actor for that horrifying movie, ‘Beta’, while this actor’s stellar performance was completely overlooked.
Also in 1993, Madhuri Dixit was given the Best Actress Award for ‘Beta’ while this actress’s gut-wrenching performance of a woman driven to madness while waiting for her lover, was ignored.
In 1994, Juhi Chawla was awarded Best Actress for ‘Hum Hain Rahi Pyar Ke’ while a much better performance by another actress was sidelined.
Also in 1994, ‘Hum Hain Rahi Pyar Ke’ was named Best Film when it clearly wasn’t.
In 1995, the Filmfare award for Best Actress was given to the right actress, but for the wrong role. The award was given for the very popular ‘Hum Aapke Hain Koun..!’, when that same year, she blew people away with this role.
Also in 1995, ‘Hum Aapke Hain Koun..!’ got the Best Film award even though there were much better movies nominated for the same accolade.
In 1996, DDLJ swept up awards like a Hoover. Shah Rukh Khan was labeled Best Actor for giving a rather run-of-the-mill performance, while this actor’s superb performance was, once again, left unacknowledged.
That same year, the same disservice was done to a laudable performance in the Best Actress category. DDLJ ensured Kajol’s win, while this “hatke” performance lost.
In 1997, Karishma Kapoor was hailed as the Best Actress for ‘Raja Hindustani’ — because we all know how difficult it is to partake in the longest, most lustful kiss Hindi cinema had ever seen, and also scream “Rajaji, Rajaji” a billion times — while a far far superior performance by this actress was ignored.
In 1998, Shah Rukh Khan and Madhuri Dixit won Best Actor/Best Actress for ‘Dil To Pagal Hai’ which was a mediocre movie with mediocre performances at best. In so doing, the Filmfare Awards cheated two better actors who truly deserved to be recognized. Both Anil Kapoor and Tabu got their recognition in the form of a Critics’ Choice Award for ‘Virasat’, instead!
The next year, in 1999 that is, the Filmfare jury was still on board the Popularity Express and gave Shah Rukh Khan the Best Actor award for ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’ while this moving performance by Ajay Devgn went unrewarded.
Not to be left behind, Kajol bagged the Best Actress award for ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’. Once again, mediocrity won praises galore, and a stellar performance by Manisha Koirala was considered good, but not “good enough”.
Over the next few years, the Filmfare awards continued their haphazard journey into disrepute. Every now and again they’d get it right and give Critics’ Choice awards to the people who truly deserved them. This was when one considered all the other awards a joke and learned to set store only by the Critics’ Choice awards.
In 2003, Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s ‘Devdas’ was hailed as the Best Film while Ram Gopal Verma’s ‘Company’ was brushed aside.
Ajay Devgn continued to just miss out on the Best Actor award, when in 2004 Hrithik Roshan’s performance in ‘Koi… Mil Gaya’ was deemed worthier than this performance by Devgn.
2005 was a bad year for the nominees in the Best Actor and Best Film categories. The meh story line of ‘Veer-Zaara’ was considered better than this truly great film by Ashutosh Gowarikar.
Only the brain dead, or the creatively challenged, would dare consider Rani Mukherji’s decidedly inside-the-box performance in ‘Hum Tum’ even in the same league as, much less better than, Urmila’s fantastic performance in this RGV film.
In 2009, Hrithik Roshan, again for reasons unknown, won Best Actor for ‘Jodha Akbar’, beating other, better, actors nominated in the same category. Ye baat kuchh hazam nahin hui! Especially because this brilliant brilliant actor was among the contenders.
In 2010, the Filmfare Awards added the final nail to their coffin when they awarded Best Film to the insipid but popular ‘3 Idiots’ instead of this film, which is remembered as a path breaking film for Bollywood even today.
Over the last two/three years, the Filmfare Awards have been trying to find their way back to their glory days of old. It’s been a hit here, a miss there, kinda endeavor. This year, they finally made a little headway when two absolutely brilliant performances — by Manoj Bajpayee in ‘Aligarh’ and by Aamir in ‘Dangal’ — were both given the recognition they deserved.
Dare we hope that there will come a day when getting a Filmfare Award will mean what it once did?!!