Shailesh Kapoor: Award Shows: Moneybag for Bollywood, Ratings for TV

13 Jan,2017

By Shailesh Kapoor


The “reality” of Bollywood award shows has been a subject of much discussion and ridicule over the last decade. Till the ’90s, there was a certain aura around these events, primarily Filmfare and Screen at that time. A new generation of stars started establishing its foothold in the industry from the mid ’90s, and therein started some straight talk on the topic.


Aamir Khan shunned the awards show circuit after Rangeela. Salman Khan, Akshay Kumar and a few others followed suit over the years, attending award shows only as paid hosts or performers. Many stars openly discuss the “fakeness” of the winner selection process at award shows in their media interviews. Even an industry-insider show like KoffeeWith Karan has several references to it.


It’s not as if awards don’t matter to Bollywood stars at all. The younger actors still see awards as aspirational, more like a certification that they have arrived. But with time, the charm fades away. The charm of winning the award, not the charm of the award show itself. Because there’s a crucial difference.


The award show is a moneybag. It’s a TV event packaged with a sponsor who’s willing to pay the top dollar to be associated with the property. The organisers can afford to pay the stars handsomely to get them to host, perform or simply attend. Even a 10-minute appearance is enough, as it will take care of all the expressions required to be plastered across the three-hour length of the TV show.


All the pretense around film awards being “genuine” was officially abandoned this season, when the Star Screen Awards ground event was held even before the release of Dangal, and the nominations and awards were still given out for the entire calendar year of 2016. It was an opportunity to get a strong TV property on New Year’s Eve. And since Aamir Khan doesn’t believe in awards anyway, why let Dangal come in the way of this opportunity!


If you have watched the two awards aired so far this year (Screen and Stardust), you will notice that the TV event does not give more than 20-25% of its time to the actual awards part. The rest is for TRP generation – banter between the host and the co-host, banter between the host and the stars, dance performances, spoof acts, etc. Most technical awards are pushed out as a separate programming, mostly aired as a short capsule after the main event is over.


And the ratings are coming. Since 2015-16, award shows have been outperforming some of the biggest films on TV. Award shows and events could be the new “world TV premieres” very soon, going by the way most films are underperforming on satellite television (more on that some other week).


So, a prized Bollywood creation from years ago is now a TV property that Bollywood too earns off.


Let the irony not be lost!


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