Young Birds Are Mating

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The National Awards used to be the only awards that recognized cinematic excellence in India. It also took cognizance of the fact that Indian movies are not all Bollywood and that the most successful movie of the year is not necessarily the best (usually almost never the best). That it was jury-based also made it more creditable than any of the other “popular award” tamashas like “Filmfare Awards” and all its myriad wannabes where votes could be bought by buying enough magazines or by linking your appearance at the award show with an “award” .

(Gossip goes that Anil Kapoor once bought a huge number of copies of Filmfare and sent in all the coupons with the most hirsute man in Bollywood (ie himself) as the people’s choice for Best Actor!)

I am not saying that the National Awards was perfect or very consistent in all its choices. Sure there have been backroom machinations, political parties have thrown their weight behind certain committee members, many of their past decisions have been motivated by politics/regionalism——-but then again nothing is perfect. And judging art is always a subjective exercise, eternally open to criticism. However the National Awards committee has more often than not got things right.

In recent memory, when Amitabh Bachchan got his National Award for “Agneepath” I raised an eyebrow (like many others). Now I am a big fan of Big B and his acting in “Agneepath” had an undeniable front bencher appeal

Baap ka naam Dinanth Chauhan….

Maut Ke Saath Meri Appantment Hain… Han….Appantment….Yeh Dekho…Inglis Bhi Bolta Hain….Aiyeee

Yahan Pe Telephone Ki Ghanti Bahoot Bajhta Hain. Bahoot Galat Cheej Banaya Yeh Telefone. Aadmi sochta kuch hain, bolta kuch hain, sunta kuch hain aur karta kuch hain.
(Not the exact dialogues—relying on memory here)

But best actor? Aww come on……let’s accept it….his acting was loud and hammy in a pathetic formulaic movie. Amitabh himself had done much better in other roles.

Then Sunny Deol won for Damini for what was basically a glorified special appearance. Again fire belching Sunny and his volcanic, menacing repartees to hair-jhatkaing Inderjeet Chadda passed off as award-worthy acting.

And then in 2005. It is Saif Khan for “Hum Tum”. I think the Chote Nawab is a far better actor than all his “Khantemporaries”, does not take himself as seriously as other “superstars” and lets the character he plays come to the fore (unlike say Shahrukh Khan who is always Shahrukh Khan regardless of the role he is playing).

Having said that, his performance in “Hum Tum” is humdrum and strictly by-the-numbers—-for the life of me I cannot see why it is so unique as to warrant an award. “Hum Tum” is a light, frothy brainless comedy and Saif sleepwalks through a role which could not be considered to be demanding for any half-decent actor.

For those not too into Hindi movies, Saif getting the award for “Hum Tum” is somewhat like how insane it would be if Jason Biggs got the Oscar for Best Acting for “American Pie”.

Coming back to Saif, his performance in “Ek Haseena Thi” was much more nuanced and a far more award-worthy effort than that of the reformed MCP he plays in “Hum Tum”.

To be fair to Saif, I have not seen the other performances from non-Hindi movies this year and so it could very well be that the other performances were so mediocre that there was no other option but to give it to the Chote Nawab. However I find it tough to believe that this would be the case considering the sheer number of movies coming out of India each year and also becomes “Hum Tum” is such a low bar to gauge histronic ability.

Maybe Saif won was because his mother Sharmila Tagore was the chairperson of the Censor Board of India and the committee members were very eager to get on her good books.

Whatever the reason is and we can only speculate, it was real fun to hear Preeti Sagar “justify” the decision.

She (Preeti Sagar) said Saif had done a wonderful job in the film and it was not necessary to give an award to a ‘heavy’ performance all the time. “We tried to be different this time,” she said.

Whoa ! Can someone please tell me what a supposed film critic means when she calls a performance ‘heavy’ ? What kind of film talk is that? And is Preeti Sagar organizing the Diwali party for a local club (let’s do something different this time—-how about a skit on the battle of the sexes?) or is she judging celluloid excellence ? Why did she feel the need to be “different” (or as Hindi filmwallahs would say “hatke”) this year———-on the contrary when someone is on a jury judging something, he/she is expected to be consistent with expected standards of evaluation………not be “different” merely for the sake of being so.

Now imagine the juror on the Michael Jackson trial being asked why he supported MJ’s acquittal and he winks at you and says ” We wanted to do something different”.

On the controversial decision to give a joint award to Yash Chopra’s Veer-Zaara and Cheran’s Tamil film Autograph, Sagar said both the films were wonderful, and that filmmakers outside Hindi cinema also needed to be encouraged.

I don’t know about you but whenever someone says that “Veer Zara” is a good movie I not only question their sense of aesthetics but also their sanity.

And to top it all off, note the patronizing “filmmakers outside Hindi cinema also needed to be encouraged”.

Now here’s the official spiel as to why Saif won.

“Saif won for his sheer ease, subtlety and spontaneity in portraying a complex and demanding role.”

Aaaargggggh.

I shall conclude with some lines from Preeti Sagar’s one-hit-wonder “My heart is beating” from the movie “Julie” that also justifies the title of this post.

Spring is the season,
That rolls the reason of lovers who are truly true,
Young birds are mating,
while I am waiting for you (hoo-hoo)
Darling you haunt me,
Say do you want me?
And if it so, when are we meeting?

Can bet my bottom dollar that she sung this song at the end of every “meeting” of the committee…….

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11 thoughts on “Young Birds Are Mating

  1. Came across this blog from google…very nice. And it’s not just Filmfare, even the National Awards committee is biased positively towards anything that Yash Chopra does…..plus of late it has become very Hindi centric…a legacy of BJP hacks populating the committee for the last few years.

  2. Agree with you on everything you say. And anyways, the national film awards has become a farce, thanks to the “board of jury” they elect or nominate..whatever they like to call it. First of all, can anyone tell me what Ms Preeti Sagar is doing there? What the hell does she understand of cinema,except for singing songs with lyrics such as “My heart is beating…young birds are mating…”.
    As regards, criteria for choosing what’s best and what isn’t, the less said the better. And to come to the 2005 winners, the only reason I’ll support Saif, controversies notwithstanding and in the absence of the other contenders except SRK, is because I hate SRK. The other reason of course, being Saif has indeed improved immensely as an actor, DCH onwards. He’s quite refreshing in Parineeta, in fact.

  3. Saifu was soso in humtum , personally i would have given it to nana patekar for ab tak chhapan, the performance looked sincere & to the point , unlinke nana`s other roles where he goes a little overboard. Howevere this movie was highlly underrated & people preferd the gay histrionics of gayrukh khan in veerzaara which has to be the crappiest movie out of the film industry in this decade , hell sheesha of neha dhupia had a better storyline.

    who da fuck is preeti sagar & how many cocks sez sucked dry.

  4. totally agree. though im actually a saif fan (im not sure if im the only one in the world, but …)

    howeever, like u said earlier, it does happen even in ALL the awards. its not the first time.

  5. ‘Khantemporaries’? Muchos ROFL!! (As you can see, life is good) However, I don’t share your whine on Sunny paaji.

    “Chadhaaaa…yeh dhaai kilo ka haath, jab kisi pe padhta hai, tau aadmi uthta nahin, uth jaata hai”.

    For that one dhuaandhaar line, paaji deserves all of it. what say?

  6. oh sunny paaki was all “taareekh! tareekh pe taareekh, milord!”
    Hey I really like Saif too, and think he has matured and all that stuff, but heck- a National Award- my reaction was exactly the same- there has to be something somewhere that was a better performance than his in Humtum!

  7. firstly for all the people who ask who the fuck is preeti sagar..ur dont deserve to0 comment. Coz that wud just mean that u have no idea about the indian film industry. Secondly how many of you know how the entire process of giving national awards works. If anyone does know plz let me know i wud love to know.Thirdly how many of u have the slightest idea of how a movie is made or even thought of. So better get ur facts clear before u can comment on someone else. As far as preeti sagar is concerned she has 25 years of experience in this industry, not only in music but also in the production front. Since ul have made such lovely comments im sure ul must be knowing enough about her. And all the ppl who want nana patekar or srk let me tell u that is not acting it is called hamming and im sure ul dont know wat that wud mean so refer to some person with sightly better knowledge than you guys. Id love to hear from you guys again but just make sure ur just a SLIGHT bit better aware of wats happening around in the world and not just ur bloody room or house.

  8. Its practically sickening to see movies like KANK n Veer Zara getting appreciated. And at the other end of the spectrum, Arshad Warsi goes unnoticed in an excellent role as the SSP in Sehar (2005). Arshad seems to be a really underrated actor. I mean, he has underplayed the role with such panache, without the hamming and the hysterical shrieks that accompany police characters in other flicks. His dealings with the beauracracy and bringing a change in the system by using the system in a non-confontational way are probably the best realistic dramatic reconstruction on reel. Although, i must agree i do have a bias for underplayed actors. Only time i felt Shahrukh could act besides being Shahrukh ‘the Fa-Kar’ (thats Farah-Karan, nothing naughty!!) Khan is in Chak De and Swades. Wish they made more films like Sehar.
    n oh yea, great post GB…

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