Lindsay Pereira: Let's give some new awards this season
This is award season for Hindi cinema, when every marketing manager assumes it is his or her job to sponsor an award in the hope that someone will stop caring about the stars for a minute and care about a brand instead. This never happens, of course. People continue to care about the stars alone, defending them on Twitter as if their lives depend on whether Salman’s biceps are better than Shah Rukh’s.
What I suggest instead are awards that actually draw attention to people who do something — or, as is usually the case, don’t do something — for Bombay, like the large sculpture of a group of singing Warkaris at Juhu circle. File pic
Do these awards mean anything at all? It’s debatable. Consider rumours of awards being bought, or the fact that Hrithik Roshan won approximately 102 awards for his debut film, and it all starts to seem meaningless very quickly. Also consider that these awards are usually won by the same 15 people over a period of 40 years or so, and you start to see why the whole exercise may be pointless for cinema even if it is extremely lucrative for the hosts and event managers of these garish, heavily sponsored shows.
What I suggest instead are awards that actually draw attention to people who do something — or, as is usually the case, don’t do something — for Bombay. An award for Biggest Eyesore, for instance, nominating BMC corporators who come up with the dumbest ways of spending public money. My nomination would go to the clown responsible for an installation called ‘Mumbai Butterfly’ on SV Road in Andheri West. This has been put up assuming it will make people stop and photograph themselves alongside. A lot of people do stop, primarily to figure out what a topiary butterfly frame is doing there, while some take photographs only to prove to friends on Facebook that something so atrocious actually exists.
There are other instances, again in Andheri, presumably by the same corporator. One is a large metal sculpture of a vessel at a busy crossroad, the other a group of singing Warkaris (pilgrims who worship Vithoba) at Juhu circle. No Warkari has been spotted in Juhu for decades, of course, but that hasn’t stopped someone from reminding everyone from the area that Warkaris exist in corners of Maharashtra where homes cost far less than 4.5 crores.
Another award ought to be given for Best Actor in a Political Role. Nominees can include pretty much any leader from any major political party. It will be a tough call, naturally, considering how well they pretend to care about our city and state. Maybe a panel of judges can go through video footage of them weeping after the latest tragedy, or gauge how forcefully they announce the next committee to probe corruption.
Other awards that ought to be considered: Best Railway Station (no nominations expected, of course, because we have no decent railway stations), Least Dangerous Public Hospital (to be evaluated by the least number of people who die on a daily basis due to medical negligence), Best Police Station (ones that actually file FIRs, or treat at least one woman with respect over the course of a year), Most Intelligent Government Scheme (just for comic relief), and maybe an award for Least Offensive Minister.
Public voting can be encouraged, although that might not be such a good idea, considering the people of Bombay don’t even step out to vote when it comes to picking their government.
The downside to awards like these, sadly, is how winners will rush to gain political mileage. Every illegal poster featuring the words ‘Honourable Minister’ will have to allocate extra space for ‘Winner of the 2016 Award for Least Offensive Minister.’ They will put it on their visiting cards, insist on having it inscribed on the sides of buildings when they cut ribbons at opening ceremonies and, in general, milk it for everything it’s worth because ministers love publicity almost as much as they love their many bank accounts.
Maybe an award show like this is also a bad idea because people who don’t win will accuse winners of bribing judges, or ask their followers to take to the streets and block traffic. After all, as everyone knows, politicians aren’t exactly gracious losers.
Maybe awards don’t mean anything to anybody, after all. Consider how the writer David Baldacci described the Pulitzer, for instance: “All you have to do [to win] is spend your life running from one awful place to another, write about every horrible thing you see. The civilized world reads about it, then forgets it, but pats you on the head for doing it and gives you a reward as appreciation for changing nothing.”
When he isn’t ranting about all things Mumbai, Lindsay Pereira can be almost sweet. He tweets @lindsaypereira. Send your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org