Have you ever seen the black and white photographs of the Filmfare Awards from days gone by? There are men in bow ties and women in glamorous dresses, everybody looks happy to be there and you get the feeling it was an intimate party for industry insiders. But that’s not the Filmfare Awards I grew up watching.
That was a chaotic affair held in some open air stadium / fairground with half of Mumbai invited to gawk at the stars as they put on a stage show that significantly differed from the one put on by the neighborhood kids only in that it cost more. It was all very entertaining, especially when they’d call the name of the winner and nobody could tell whether or not that person was in the house because there were just so many people there. I’ve always wondered if some poor soul ever battled through the hoi polloi to get their award, only to find out that the show had moved on. Sometimes, the show would drag on too long and the police would come shut it down. I bet a lot of Oscar-watchers wish they’d do the same in L.A. huh?
But then I heard that Filmfare had reverted to the old format and made it an exclusive black tie event as well roping in Shahrukh Khan and Saif Ali Khan to host, so you know I had to watch it. It’s been years since I got the chance to watch one of these things and I wanted to see how it stacked up against my memories. And I found that:
It’s still badly produced with hosts (A-list or not) who relish making incredibly lame jokes; song numbers that languish this side of tacky (but these days people drop from the ceiling or rise from smoke); frozen stars who only come alive when they’re mentioned (except Karisma Kapoor who was absolutely stoned out of her mind); a completely superfluous laugh track that was carefully crafted in the Times of India building by forcing the staff to cackle into somebody’s grandma’s Sony tape recorder circa 1975 (and most hilariously trying to con us into believing that that crowd of super snobs went wild over the phenomenon that is The Himesh); and Yash Chopra (winner of the renowned ‘Power Award’, y’all! Don’t ask me what that is though – coz “power means different things to different people” as Karan Johar helpfully pointed out before launching into a list of things he liked to do with his power. And no, I don’t mean that in a dirty way, you perverts!) smiling benignly through it all because he’s old enough and rich enough not to give a crap about any of it anymore. And Rekha, of course, looking the same as ever because the real Rekha was kidnapped by aliens in the early 1980s and replaced by a robot that gets more and more scary with each passing year.
I had so much fun! It was like a trainwreck except nobody died. And it definitely beat the pants off what passes for entertainment on Indian TV these days. Also, the Oscars can kiss my ass. A few highlights:
Hosts – I’ve always thought that Shahrukh Khan was one of the bravest actors in Bollywood because he’s absolutely willing to play the fool. The man has absolutely no problems humiliating himself. This has frequently led to some ginormous turkeys (hello there Duplicate) but can sometimes be fun. That said, I could have lived the rest of my life without seeing him and Saif Ali Khan dancing about in towels. My eyes! My eyes!
Also Saif kidding that that fugly-ass tattoo says “Karan” (for KJo) instead of “Kareena”? Is much funnier when you consider he’d probably do it too if that helped his career in some way. You can build your muscles, deepen your voice and star in all the Yashraj movies with nonsense names you like, Saifoo, but you can’t make me forget your early career. I refuse!
Performers – Talking of Saif v. 1.0 reminds me of the one performance that really made an impact on me: Akshay Kumar’s. It not only allowed Saif to come up with the one true zinger of the night (“Fantastic actor blah blah blah … and quite a good editor too.” Hee hee.) but it’s the perfect illustration of the magic that can happen when you use props that you don’t fully understand.
I posit that there is no other country in the world in which you can convince a macho action star that it’s absolutely cool (and sexy even) to writhe around with a red feather boa for minutes on end. Just look at the sheer believability of that man as he dances with that thing. This is why Akshay is the king of the box office.
I’d also like to give props to Kareena Kapoor for devoting the greater part of her ‘performance’ to holding a pose and making faces at the crowd. I bet she practiced really hard for hours.
Clothes – I don’t know who bought Bollywood a fashion sense but they need to be taken out immediately. They’re interfering with my enjoyment of awards shows. Just look at them, all dolled up and tasteful like we don’t know they’ve got stylists shopping for them. Boo! Thank God, then, for Gauri Khan a.k.a. Mrs. SRK who is on a personal mission to prove the maxim that money can’t buy taste. Love that shade of lipstick! But the true star of the night was Vidya Balan. The hair, the orange dress with tinsel embroidery in all the awkward places, the pancake – top honors hands down. Well, at least she’s got a sense of humor about it.
Also Shahrukh – maybe the time has come to invest in some bow ties that don’t smack of the clip on, hmm? Just a suggestion.
PDA – KA-reli! KA-reli! KA-reli! She sharmaos, he sharmaos, she laughs at his jokes, he kisses her cheek, awww! I have cavities just watching them. This footage is going to be sooo much fun in another year or so when they break up and the trashy newschannels air it over and over and over again.
Class – Rishi Kapoor. Who knew ol’ Tubby Wubby Knobbly Knee was such a class act? I even lapped up the obligatory “We’re the motherfuckin’ Kapoors beeyotch!” speech. And him thanking his wife for the part she’s played in his life? I wasn’t even born when he and Neetu Kapoor nee Singh first hooked up and they’re still my favorite Bolly-couple.
Absentees – The Bachchans. Coz they hate Mumbai and Maharashtra and you and me and everybody else who isn’t short, fat, royal and called Amar Singh. Say it with me – KA-reli! KA-reli! KA-reli!
PS – Aspi gives out his own awards.