Film award shows have turned out to be money-spinners for organisers
Award shows spell big money, big business and big entertainment on the small screen. Imposing sets, glittering song-and-dance routines, comic skits, and a galaxy of stars, especially the biggest names around, create the glitz for the show. But are the shows going over the top? Are viewers getting too much of the same on every show?
Channel honchos say the shows are growing in number because they are the best money spinners for the channel. Trendsetting Bollywood has at least 10 private film award shows now; Mollywood already has seven, held over a period of six months, usually between January and June. Media houses/publications and the channels join hands with big sponsors to dish out the fanfare.
Mollywood had its first in the form of Asianet Film Awards. Others followed suit. In its recent edition, the channel hyped up the event by holding it in Dubai. “We like to surprise the audience. Also, the expatriate population of Malayalis have been a faithful audience of the channel. We’ve an in-house team that coordinates the entire event,” says B.S. Praveen Kumar, chief manager, Public Relations and Telecast Coordination, Asianet, who is also in charge of the major events of the channel.
Shah Rukh Khan, Vidya Balan, Asin, Madhavan, Dhanush, and, a strong line-up from Mollywood led by Mammootty and Mohanlal made it a treat for the crowd at the Asianet awards function. Amrita did not stop at film stars. They brought down to Thiruvananthapuram, celebrities such as Asha Bhosle, Milka Singh, Vidya Balan, and Prabhu Deva while Dhanush, Amala Paul and Sreesanth spiced up the film awards night conducted by Vanitha, a magazine for women from Malayala Manorama.
Behind the scenes
Explaining the work behind the scenes is R. Sreekandan Nair, who has had a long stint with Asianet before he moved to Mazhavil Manorama. He says: “The execution is a laborious process, which involves coordinating the artistes, the guests, post-production work, marketing and telecast. We’ve to think big, since the television audiences are exposed to mega events at national and international levels. Asianet film awards grew in stature as years went by and the best part of it was that all work was done by the in-house team. In fact, it reached a point where the show even went live.”
Roping in big stars from Tamil and Hindi film industries became a dictum when more private award functions came into the picture and each wanted to be different from the other. “Bigger the artiste, better the show,” says Ajayan K. Nair, head (non-fiction), Surya TV, which hosts award functions in association with Kerala Film Producers’ Association.
As a result of the competition for eyeballs, the shows got bigger, better, bolder and brighter. “Today, award shows are as good as watching films. But the content has to be strong, otherwise people would get bored. Also, it is a huge platform for up-and-coming talents.”
All stops are pulled out for the show. Yesteryear stars are located and bought to the limelight for a dose of nostalgia. Dancers are transported from Africa and Russia, and no expense is spared for the sets.
The inside story
However, there is a flip side to the glitter and now eyebrows travel upwards when the awards are announced. In an act of diplomatic jugglery, each award function manages to ensure that all the biggies in Mollywood have an award for something or the other. “Some awards are genuine, but you have to please a whole lot of people, right from sponsors to stars and the guests. If the star concerned can’t make it to the function, the award goes to the actor who turns up for the mega event,” says an official at a channel.
Thus none of the stars who grace the function go empty handed. If a reigning star is chosen for the best actor award, then the others are given awards in other categories such as youth icon, cultural icon, cultural ambassador, and so on.
If the total budget was Rs one crore earlier – which included putting up sets, paying for the artistes, prize money and marketing – now it has gone up by several times. So the organiser is left with no choice but to go all out marketing the event, get maximum sponsors and a top TAM rating.
The result: cinema takes a backseat. “With so many shows happening, awards lose their credibility. These events have become more of sponsored programmes,” says film-maker T.K. Rajeev Kumar, who has directed many mega stage shows and a number of stage events. In fact, the State Film Award function took a new avatar this time, with a grand show being hosted in Kozhikode.
Meanwhile, the who’s who of the four South Indian film industries came together in Dubai for the first ever South Indian International Movie Awards (SIIMA), perhaps, an answer to IIFA (India International Film Awards), which is all about Bollywood.
As the tit-for-tat game for eyeballs and commercial glory continues, keep the remote near you.