It truly did come as a shock at first to know when Mr Bachchan announced his disassociation with IIFA, the ‘A’ of which pretty much symbolises the man himself, the living Bollywood legend – Amitabh Bachchan. For many in the industry, the allegory is somewhat like an inside joke, but the fact remains that without Big B, the International Indian Film Academy wouldn’t have garnered the kind of respect it enjoys globally, and let me also add that the Academy wouldn’t have become self sustaining (which it has become clearly by now) body, had not Mr Bachchan been its mascot for almost over a decade.
Come on we have to accept it, Bollywood is synonymous with Amitabh Bachchan. He is an institution in himself, the millennium superstar represents the face of Indian cinema at the global arena.
So when IIFA, with its novel concept of promoting Indian films worldwide, was kicked off back in year 2000, the best ambassador it thought of to establish its credentials was Amitabh
The growing affinity between Big B and IIFA gave way to the idea that the Bachchans’ have hijacked IIFA. Over the years, the event, originally meant to showcase Bollywood in its totality to the world, was somehow perceived as hell-bent on shunning any mention of other superstars of the Hindi film industry - be it Shah Rukh Khan, Aamir Khan or Akshay Kumar - and keeping the focus steadily on its brand ambassador Amitabh Bachchan and his clan.
So, as I tried to figure out the probable cause of the severed ties between Big B and IIFA, the break-up seemed quite apparent.
Interestingly, a relatively new actor on conditions of anonymity shared his views about the IIFA-Big B bond - “The Bachchans want to use IIFA as a platform to promote themselves because they realise other superstars are edging forward at the global level. Today, wherever Hindi films are seen, people know of SRK, Aamir, Akshay or Salman. The Bachchans have found a convenient way to be in the global limelight every year. They needn't have done that, actually. Amitabh Bachchan will always be a respected and towering figure for Hindi film fans anywhere in the world, IIFA or no IIFA. So why be insecure?”
That may be a relevant view, but as I dig deeper, I find multi-layered reasons. If last year, it was the threat of Tamil backlash which made Bachchans skip the event in Sri Lanka, a year ago in 1999, Big B was miffed with the IIFA members because Sujay Ghosh, ‘Aladin’ director had signed a deal with IIFA without informing AB Sr about his performance for the promotion of his film at the awards.
So, evidently the relations were getting soured since a couple of years and the current situation is but the testimony accentuated differences.
While on the other hand let’s look at IIFA – The International India Film Academy, yeah, it’s made to sound too pompous and has hardly lived up to the very idea behind it.
Not very long ago, Vikram Bhatt wrote a cover story in daily questioning IIFA’s aim “to promote Indian cinema globally”. What has it done in the last ten years? And how has it promoted “Indian cinema”? It goes to those countries where NRIs would pay obscene amount of money to see their favourite stars do ‘chiggy-wiggy’ and it’s all strictly Bollywood. There is nothing ‘Indian cinema’ about it.
Nobody knows what actually the Academy does or how it’s even an Academy? Just to make it sound authentic like the Oscars, an event management company decided to do yet another Bollywood awards and formed the Academy.
Like every other awards in this country, stars go, dance, get awards, get money and come back. And a few days back, in reply to a fan’s query, Bachchan posted the following tweet about this year’s IIFA at Canada:
“Not coming to Toronto IIFA...IIFA says my services are not required.”
To which one of the directors of IIFA said:
“Due to unexplainable reasons, after announcing the event, Brand Ambassador, Mr. Bachchan couldn’t participate in the IIFA Weekend in Sri Lanka last year. Following this, IIFA aborted the concept of a Brand Ambassador. Keeping in mind the huge respect that Wizcraft and IIFA have for Mr. Bachchan and the deep relationship that we’ve always shared, we are not having anyone replace Mr. Bachchan. The Bachchan family has been an intrinsic part of IIFA every year, and in this regard we have already shared with them a proposal about their participation this year too. Mr Bachchan’s reason for non-participation is best known to him. IIFA and Mr. Bachchan are inseparable. We will continue to pursue his participation for this year too.”
Well, you don’t need to be too smart to read between the lines. Abhishek’s career is going nowhere. Aishwarya doesn’t have many films in her kitty and if IIFA entertains only the Bachchans, they cut out the rest of the industry.
Probably, this wouldn’t have been the case if ‘Raavan’, KHJJS, ‘Guzaarish’ and ‘Action Replayy’ turned out to be hit. But still, when you can get Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan to do ‘chiggy wiggy’ and make some more money, why would you go with just the A or the B.
(The views expressed by the author are personal)