(Written by Guest contributor Unni with inputs from VC team)
Sometime in 1927, a non-profit corporation was formed and registered in California. The organization’s name was “The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.” The Oscars, as it is popularly called now, has been an inspiration for many an award shows across the globe. Every award show organizer wants his award show to resemble the Oscars as much as possible – red carpet, paparazzi, camera flashes et al.
Not to be left behind, a few people started the “The International Indian Film Academy“(IIFA) supposedly to showcase the Indian film industry to the world. The first IIFA Film Festival was held in London in 2000. The latest edition of the awards just got over in Dubai.
Now to the objective of IIFA – The official IIFA site states states that “The International Indian Film Academy is a first-of-its-kind effort to promote Indian Cinema globally, thus reaching out to millions of its fans”.
It is this very objective that has been questioned by none other than Mammotty in his interview to NDTV
“How can this be called an International Indian Awards when the competition is only limited to Hindi films?”
“The Hindi film industry should at least show the guts to stand up to the competition from the southern film industry before calling itself international,” said Mammootty.
Hats off to the Mammotty for having the guts to speak out,at the cost of being ridiculed. He has been consistently speaking about this of late. He made a similar speech during last years Annual Film fare awards. One wonders the motive behind these awards – is it instituted just to create the hype – through the participation of Hindi movie actors/actresses and even starlets(whose claim to “acting” is exhibiting their “assets”), at exotic locations and at the expense of a few NRI’s who have big money to throw away.
Admittedly few non-Hindi actors like Mammootty, Mohan Lal, Meera Jasmine and Vikram were also invited to attend the awards; just in case some foreigners thought that India was a one-language country. Maybe to appease the non-Hindi speaking people, a few movies like Kazcha and Rasthanthram were also shown.
The nominations for almost all the main categories were from Bollywood films. â€˜Blackâ€™ hogged the limelight with its multiple nominations. Not even a single other-language film featured on the list, though 7 Tamil, four Malayalam and 3 Telugu films were screened.
The complete negative bias towards non-Hindi films provoked Mammooty to remark during his speech that IFFA should be named as International Hindi Film Awards. â€œThere is a world beyond Bollywood,â€ he said.
What the organizers miss and what Mammotty argues is that Hindi alone is not International India. If it were so, most actors in India would have acted in Hindi Films and only Hindi actors would have won National Awards.
Here are a few facts – The highest paid Indian actor is not Amithabh Bachchan/Shah Rukh Khan. It is Rajnikanth who if rumors are to be believed earns close to 20 crore!. Such is his fan following that his movies have been dubbed in languages such as Japanese and Turkish.
If one takes look at the people who have won National Awards for the past 26 years- South Indians have won 14/26 awards for the best actor!! (Out of that Malayalais have won more than 60% of those 14 awards). Mammotty has won it thrice and Mohan Lal twice. Mr Bachchan has won it once. Shah Rukh has never won it. Saif Ali Khan had the backing of momma Sharmila Tagore-Censor board Chairman and won an award for a candy-floss movie.
For a while now there has been consistent and concerted push towards projecting Hindi movies as Indian movies, be it in Cannes, or for Oscars or National awards. More and more Hindi movies are trying to identify themselves closer to Hollywood rather than to India while they are just starting to get rid of stories where twin brothers get lost in childhood and meet after 20 years. Even though there are talented actors, directors and technicians in South India, Hindi cinema has always muscled them out, probably due to inferiority complex.
If the IIFA awards are to come anywhere near the league of other International festivals like Cannes/Berlin, the organizers have to take off their bias towards Hindi films and give equal footage to regional language films as well. That might mean less Hindi movies might get selected and the Karan Johar genre might not be showcased, but that is the way to make this festival truly Indian.
Venue: IIFA Festival.
Interviewer to singer, Shankar Mahadevan: OK Tell me what does IIFA stand for?
Shankar Mahadevan: Indian..International..Indian..Awards….errr..I don’t know!