Lights, Camera, Awards!

It is award season in Bollywood, which means it is time to celebrate the best of 2012 by giving out trophies to whoever is performing at the function. It is also that time of the year when organisers carry out virgin sacrifices to summon Rekha from her crypt.

2012 was pretty good for Bollywood, with releases like Paan Singh Tomar, Kahaani, Vicky Donor, English Vinglish and my favourite, Gangs of Wasseypur, which showed us that even poor people can look cool, as long as they’re bloodthirsty, gaali-spewing criminal masterminds. The Wasseypur ensemble is now the most famous set of Biharis in pop-culture, second only to Shekhar Suman’s nipples. These relatively small films proved that you could have fun at the movies even if you didn’t fit the industry’s usual target profile, i.e. people with the IQ of cabbage.

However, 2012 was also a ‘Mine Is Bigger Than Yours’ contest, with film-makers competing to see who could cross the 100-crore mark with the most rubbish script possible. This club includes gems such as Ek Tha Tiger and Dabangg 2, both of which had Salman playing the role of Salman, and Rowdy Rathore, where Akshay Kumar played a man desperately trying to be Salman. Jab Tak Hai Jaan also made 100 crores, and was seen by audiences as the final hurrah of an old, withered man. But enough about Shahrukh.

Then there was Rohit Shetty’s Bol Bachchan, which was an official remake of Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Gol Maal, and featured Abhishek Bachchan as a limp-wristed gay caricature. Now why would you mess with a classic like that? It’s like saying, “I cloned Madhubala and threw in some Sherlyn Chopra DNA.”

Another 100-crore masterpiece was Son of Sardaar, featuring the evocatively worded song, “Pon Pon Pon Pon Pon”, which is Urdu for “wrote this after getting stoned during a traffic jam.” I especially love the choreography to the song, because the key step involves the actors staring at the camera while mock-rinsing their mouths repeatedly. It takes a brave choreographer to look at Ajay Devgn’s mouth and think, “I want the audience to focus on that dental warzone.”

(A special mention must go out to Sonakshi Sinha, for serving as a showpiece in not one, not two, but three masala hits this year. Actresses in these films are like naphthalene pellets in a urinal – you expect them to be there, but you wouldn’t miss them if they were gone. The job would still get done.)

This slavish approach to the 100-crore club got even more ridiculous at a recent award function, when the eight directors whose films had hit the magic number this year were thanked and given special awards for their contribution to cinema. The only way this could have been more sycophantic is if the channel execs had personally given each director a Thai massage.

In keeping with the theme of handing out random awards to keep stars happy, at the same function, SRK and Katrina Kaif won the award for “International Icon”, whatever that means. Soon they’ll stop pretending and just hand out awards like the “Best International Icon-cum-Saviour of The Planet Who Lives At Bandstand And Hasn’t Been To Jail Yet” award. Another silly moment was Ek Tha Tiger winning the award for Best Marketed Film. After all, Bhai’s films involve a hugely complex marketing strategy, i.e. “Let’s release it on Eid.”

2012 also saw SRK’s first on-screen kiss, because only in India can a loverboy hero have his first kiss at the age of 47. The much hyped lip-lock with Katrina showcased the kind of passion and magic you’d associate with an episode of Krishi Darshan. Another first was the Bollywood debut of porn star Sunny Leone in Jism 2. I’d love to tell you more, but as with all Sunny Leone films, I only watched it for the first five minutes.

Event organisers would save a lot of time this year if they just went ahead and gave all the awards to Nawazuddin Siddiqui, including ‘Best Item Number’ because at this point, it looks like he could pull that off as well (It would also be less traumatising than the sight of Rani Mukherjee lunging about in ‘Dreamum Wakeupum StabMeInTheEyesUm’) But awards aside, I hope that in the coming year, film-makers continue to make use of this new-fangled technology known as a ‘script’. Or as it’s called in the industry, ‘Pon Pon Pon Pon Pon.’

(Note: This is my HT column dated 20th Jan 2013)