The Ghanta Awards 2014, held recently, sought to celebratethe worst of Bollywood

At the recent ‘Ghanta Awards 2014 — Nomination Special’ in New Delhi, the comedian Azeem Banatawala had the unenviable task of presenting the S*** Nobody Saw Award. In accordance with the name of the award, he hadn’t seen any of the three nominees — Sona Spa, Satya 2 and Issaq . While reading about them, however, he struck comedy gold in the form of Makarand Deshpande, the thread that bound the three films in their mediocrity, as a director or an actor. He concluded the segment with a simple recipe for producers who wanted their films to have a fate unlike those mentioned earlier: do not associate with Makarand Deshpande.

It is unlikely, however, that Bollywood will listen to the Ghantas, a comedy show that seeks to hold up a mirror to the industry by recognising and rewarding the worst films made each year. Modelled on the Golden Raspberry Awards (the Razzies), Ghanta Awards, started by INvision Entertainment along with Prashant Rajkhowa, are presented by the East India Company, comprising Banatawalla, Sorabh Pant, Sahil Shah, Kunal Rao, Atul Khatri and Sapan Verma. The nominees are decided by a consortium of film critics, and the winners are decided through voting on the website theghantas.com.

Now in its fourth year, the Ghantas each year face a mounting problem of plenty. This year, while the comedians wanted to have five nominees in each category, they could, in the interest of the show’s length, incorporate only three, says Pant, who anchored the show. They did however add three categories to the existing 13.

Apart from the categories of the worst actor (won by Prateik for Issaq ), worst film ( Himmatwala ) and worst director (Sajid Khan), the awards also had nominations in inventive categories such as the W** Was That award, which celebrates the outlandish leaps of imagination found in our films, and the self-explanatory Kuoting Krap with Karan award (Salman Khan).

The comics have different reasons for writing jokes about films. “There is so much trash happening in Bollywood, how can you not write about it?” asks Shah. “I saw Dhoom 3 and I thought it was alright. Even Chennai Express I didn’t think was such a terrible movie. But as comedians we have to be evil,” Pant chips in. While the Ghantas try to ensure that the deserving doesn’t go unacknowledged, for the comics the obverse is also important: that no one gets what they don’t deserve. “We are making jokes on their work, not on their personal life,” they say.

At previous editions of the award ceremony, the comics have been greeted by the unexpected sight of Bollywood personalities in the front row. In one of them they were encouraged by Hrithik Roshan to make jokes about Krrish , while Anurag Kashyap, whose film That Girl in Yellow Boots , was nominated for Worst Holier-Than-Thou Movie, encouraged his Twitter followers to vote for him. In 2012, Sonam Kapoor proved herself a great sport by showing up to receive her W** Was That Award for Mausam .

These are encouraging signs for the comics, for they are proof of a trait they often find missing in India: an ability to laugh at oneself.

BUDHADITYA BHATTACHARYA

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