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Filmfare Awards have lost their gleam over the years

Gayatri Sankar

The year 1913 was an eventful year in the history of Indian Cinema. ‘Raja Harishchandra’, India’s first full length motion film was made that year by Dada Saheb Phalke, who is also known as the father of Indian Cinema. The Indian film industry has seen a sea of change since then. Hindi cinema, popularly known as ‘Bollywood’ has successfully grabbed eyeballs of movie goers both in India and abroad.

Talking about Bollywood, Filmfare Awards find a special mention. The annual felicitation ceremony of the cine artists and technical geniuses is one of the oldest events in the country. Introduced in 1954, the Filmfare Awards were launched by the Times Group. The Filmfare is equivalent to the Oscars for India. The National Awards too were launched in the same year. Yet, the two felicitation ceremonies had distinct features. The year 1956 saw a huge development in this sphere where a dual voting system was launched. The system said, “In contrast to the National Film Awards, which are decided by a panel appointed by Indian Government, the Filmfare Awards are voted for by both the public and a committee of experts.”

Unfortunately, Filmfare has lost its importance of late. With a number of other award ceremonies being held annually, the gleam of the Filmfare has been overshadowed by its counterparts. With IIFA Awards, Star Screen Awards and other equivalent honours being introduced in the cine domain, the significance of the first ever awards have been greatly reduced. In the earlier days, Filmfare was the sole judging private body that rewarded artists and technicians on the basis of their performances. So, its worth was infinite and matchless. But over the past decade or so, its uniqueness and its genuineness have taken a backseat, making the pioneer look like “one in the crowd”.

Over the years, award ceremonies have multiplied. The award events no doubt pull large crowds but while doing so, have diluted the standards that adjudicate winners. Apparently, the award ceremonies no longer felicitate those who deserve, but reward personalities who represent the award committee. And with immensely talented actors like Aamir Khan and Ajay Devgn boycotting them, it only confirms the loss of its authenticity.

Awards hold value only when they are duly given after thoughtful consideration to those most deserving. The factors and the standard principles that decide the winners have a unique place and are in no way compromised. But with the growing number of award ceremonies being held annually, their authenticity does raise eyebrows. Spanning over five decades, the Filmfare has held an esteemed position in an actor’s life.

The ‘Lady in Black’, as the award if lovingly addressed as, has been a reason for many artists proud of owing her.

And Filmfare has certainly lost its worth and its standing so to say. An actor or a technician now has his options wide open. He knows some event or the other will recognise his hard work for sure. Moreover the yardstick adopted by the organising committee for the judgment too varies disproportionately.

Indian cinema is now on the threshold of completing 100 years. This remarkable feat will highlight the transformation of Indian cinema, giving Bollywood a special place in world cinema. Whether or not the ‘Lady in Black’ is still the best yardstick to assess successes and failures is something to ponder over.

Possibly, the influx of multiple awards ceremonies have only led to the deterioration of the magnitude of Filmfare’s worth. In the earlier days, Filmfare awards played a pivotal role in increasing the price value of winner as it gave the recipient an edge over his contemporaries.

Here’s a look at the first ever Filmfare Awards. On 21 March 1954 at the Metro Theatre of Mumbai, the five set of awards were presented which included Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Music Director. The first movie to clinch the first Filmfare award was ‘Do Bigha Zameen’. Legendry director Bimal Roy was first recipient of the best director award for the classic ‘Do Bigha Zameen’. Stalwarts Dilip Kumar and Meena Kumari were named best actor and actress for their films ‘Daag’ and ‘Baiju Bawra’ respectively. Music maestro Naushad bagged the best music direction award for ‘Baiju Bawra’.

To conclude, it would be best to say `too many cooks spoil the broth`.