Shailesh Kapoor: And the Awards are Here… Are you Bored already?

16 Jan,2015

By Shailesh Kapoor


It’s the first quarter of a new calendar year, and the awards season has started in its full glory. Every media house worth its salt has a business stake in at least one, sometimes two or eve three, award shows. Every weekend has at least one being aired. By the end of it all, everyone would have won something. Because it’s just fine to create a category to fit in a desired winner. Or just force-fit the desired winner into an existing category anyway, like Mary Kom being a social drama at a recently aired awards show.


The television audiences, of course, watch the awards shows for their entertainment value. The winners’ list is generally out in the media well before the actual telecast. In any case, with less than 5% of the TV audiences being theatre-goers, they couldn’t care less for who won the award for the Best Singer or the Best Supporting Actor, for example.


Unfortunately, even the entertainment factor is now commoditised across shows. All performances, across award shows, look interchangeable, like their sets. In general, we have song-and-dance routines set to contemporary Bollywood hits, intercut with star reactions (mostly cheat footage) and anchors trying to make the audiences laugh with their film industry jokes.


With such homogeneity of content, the shows with the better anchors tend to rate better. The Salman Khan-anchored Big Star Entertainment Awards may not have the equity of Filmfare or Screen Awards, but often ends up being higher-rated than them. Kapil Sharma hosting Filmfare this year should boost its viewership prospects.


About a decade ago, a television channel had two reasons to air an awards show. It would get them the bucks, and it would propel their image of being a complete entertainment channel with big-ticket offerings. Today, the second reason is no longer relevant. Audiences have poor recall of even the biggest award shows, beyond their limited window of promotions and telecast. And channel association has weakened considerably over time, as media clutter increases and properties change hands between channels.


Expecting India to have its own Oscars or Golden Globes is, of course, wishful thinking. IIFA was set up with the ‘Academy’ approach, but the film industry does not share a common view on awards. In fact, many stakeholders do not have a view to begin with. They are happy to be present if there is prior intimation that they are winning an award, or if they are being paid to perform on stage.


But even with all these limitations, can the conceptualisers of such shows not stretch their imagination and at least conceive “entertainment” that’s not a rehash of what we have seen for almost 20 years now, about 8-10 times every year? Wishful thinking, did you say?


No one wins an award for guessing that nothing’s going to change in a hurry.


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