Enter the virtual awards night! While The Ghantas were given away to honour the worst films made, the Twifi awards - or the Tweeple Film Awards - are to celebrate the best of the crop through a democratic, transparent process of polling through social networks. Sudhish Kamath reports.

Frustrated by film awards that invent categories to make sure that every star who dances/shows up at award nights goes home happy? Think it's time to officially honour the worst films of the year? And wished you were part of the jury?

Then it's time to use your finger. Thanks to social media, people power is now just a click away. The TwiFi awards and The Ghantas are classic examples of the growing impact of social networks on the entertainment business.

While the TwiFi started as a reactionary counter-movement by movie buffs to celebrate the films that really deserved to win, The Ghantas are a tongue-in-cheek tribute to the worst films of the year.

If the Razzies are held a day before the Oscars, the Ghantas this year were held to coincide with the Filmfare awards night and scores of people caught up with the live webcast and commentary over social media during the weekend, as stand-up comedians made mincemeat of the worst from Bollywood.

TwiFi will shortly be announcing its nominations online for movie buffs from around the world to vote. The shortlist itself would be done by a jury of 30 film critics and 30 movie bloggers chosen by the movie buffs on Twitter. Over a 1,000 votes were polled in four days a fortnight ago as movie buffs on Twitter nominated bloggers to be a part of the jury.

“This whole ‘movement' started as a rant against, what I considered, unfair nominations in various ‘Bollywood awards'. Stars were nominated whereas actors and artistes didn't get any nods. Box office blockbusters made their presence felt even in the nominations though deserving cinema didn't find any space,” says Nikhil Taneja, one of the brains behind the initiative.

“What makes TwiFi different from other awards is transparency, credibility and the democratic process. The entire process is shared with the people — all nominations, all decisions, all votes, are put up online. We get our credibility because of the names attached to our jury — mainstream critics from across the country who don't have an affiliation to any film or filmmaker. And democracy, because the people are consulted before any decision is reached. We had a tweet-up across six cities, four of them simultaneously, to decide the future of the awards,” explains Taneja.

So are these awards anti commercial cinema, an effort to applaud art house fare?

“I wouldn't call it an art house award because we are not against popular films. For example, movies such as ‘Rang De Basanti' or a ‘Lage Raho Munnabhai' or ‘Lagaan' are popular films but also brilliant cinema. We only hold content of the movie above everything else.”

Do keep an eye out on http://twifi2010.in for the nominations and the voting dates.

Bad films

The Ghantas, in clear contrast, were founded to celebrate those films that were so bad that they were good. As Varun Grover, one of the presenters of the Ghantas says: “We in India have 10 or more award functions to praise eight to ten good films we make every year, but no recognition to the rest of 250-odd bad films? Hence, the Ghantas. To talk about, nominate, and give awards to the films that are so bad that people will remember them at the end of the year, and also make efforts to vote for them.” 

A Facebook page and a website went up in November 2010 and Indian film fans from across the world were asked to vote. The core team of Prashant Rajakhowa, Sahil Rizwan (the cartoonist behind thevigilidiot stick-figure webcomics) and Karan Anshuman (Upperstall) kept track of the nominees and voting procedures. “More than 10,000 votes were received,” says Grover.

The stand-up comedians behind the initiative then did their homework and caught up with all the films. Like Grover sat through “Prince” to find out why it deserved the Worst Story Rip Off. It was nominated for being ripped off from every action movie ever made. And Grover reasoned while giving away the award: “‘Prince' was ripped off from ‘Inception'. The entire film is a bad dream and the events in the movie happen in the third level of the dream because three hours in the real world feel like weeks in the film.”

“Making jokes on some of them was not too difficult, but the effort was to find a new take, staying within the context of the format and talent of the nominee involved,” Grover explains.

Uday Chopra started Trending on Twitter for an entire day after The Ghantas were announced. Later, Uday Chopra sportingly tweeted: “I know I shouldn't be tweeting this but found it hard to resist. ‘Pyaar Impossible' wins worst film. I'm actually excited by this… lol.”

The Ghantas were a zero-budget event. “We all did it for our love for the movies and this idea. Tian, our hosts, sponsored the sound arrangements. The actors, performing the ‘Worst Film Trailers' also joined in for free.”

The Ghantas will be uploaded on YouTube shortly.

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Sudhish KamathMay 11, 2012