Tuesday, March 08, 2016

India's Answer to Oscars!

“Call an emergency meeting of writers, reality, sales and EM. One hour. My cabin.”

Channel head ordered his secretary and replaced the receiver even before getting an ‘OK sir’. He had just finished watching Oscars ceremony on his 50 inch TV. Somehow he wasn’t very pleased with the picture quality but then he himself had got it purchased claiming it was 4K, 3D, OLED, UHD, PhD and God only knows holder of what other degrees.

Usually after watching the awards ceremony he would Google atleast the movies which were nominees for the best picture. Having a little idea about the plot and cast of these movies made it easier dropping their names during dinner conversations and parties and made him sound knowledgeable about cinema. This trick had worked well till recently when a rival channel CEO started talking about Oscar-winning documentaries and short films and acquiring their telecast rights for his channel. The head had to resort back to time-tested formula of flowing along with the life jackets of ‘ofcourse’, ‘absolutely’, ‘yes, that one is great’ and the best one ‘I am thinking about French and Iranian content’ which was the only sentence needed to show the world that you knew about quality cinema.

But today, he was in contemplative mood. His once ‘leading’ channel was now lagging even the channels showing reruns of old shows of rival networks. Neither any new interesting shows were being pitched to his channel nor the parent network was emptying their pockets trying to buy the rights of new blockbuster movies. Their library seemed like a DVD-rental store where people would never return the DVDs.

While watching the awards ceremony, he thought he had hit the jackpot idea. His channel would host an award ceremony that would rival Oscars in terms of quality, magnitude, content and everything else that Oscars could be rivalled about. He had called the meeting with writers, reality TV producers, sales and event management executives for discussing this idea and executing it quickly.

In an hour about 15 people were assembled in the not-so-large-but-decent-for-15-people sized cabin of the head. He gave them a one line brief of “an award ceremony that would be called India’s Oscars”.

One of the writers sounded confused, “Isn’t Filmfare already called that? And even IIFA?” The head stared at him but even though no sparks flew out of his eyes, the writer was incinerated.

Another writer sensed the opportunity “Arre, anyone can call themselves anything! Tomorrow if Times Now calls itself Fox News, will it become Fox News!”.

“Aren’t they already” someone quipped and table burst out laughing. But the laughter was short lived because everyone noticed that Boss was still serious.

One event management guy said “I think sir wants an indoor event with a great set and a red carpet event with extensive coverage of who was wearing what and who came with whom and …”. He was interrupted by a producer “Seriously? Which award night doesn’t have all of this? And doesn’t TOI give us every single detail next day. I think sir has something more profound on his mind.”

Everyone, except the guy whom the producer had interrupted, silently thanked him hoping this praise made the boss more effusive and reveal what the hell he wanted!

The head smiled and said “Yes, you are right Rajiv. I want something more classy. More refined. Different. Wait a second, they are Live, right? Why can’t we do a Live ceremony like them?”

No one spoke.

Another producer broke the silence “Sir, if we do live, how will we show Amitabh Ji and Jaya Ji when Rekha Ji comes on stage to give an award. Or Deepika when Ranbeer gets an award. Or the audience laughter shots? You know most of the jokes these days are so lame that only some of the stars actually laugh so usually we are just repeating shots for every joke. And most importantly what about the promos? How will we shoot the promo where two superstars are going to fight with each other when they are just acting according to the script and after the break it all unfolds as a joke.”

One of the sales guys also felt emboldened “Yes sir and the ads in those breaks sir. We won’t be able to have half hour long ads between award for best actor and best picture sir. You know sir, we aren’t selling spots at same premium as others these days!”

“OK, fine we won’t do live. How about a great jury and an award so fare that the quality becomes our USP. We might have ‘Fair and Lovely’ as our title sponsor also!” The head winked and everyone laughed at the joke dutifully.

After the laughter subsided, one of the writers said “Sir, in that case we might not have most of the stars attending the ceremony you see. The stars attend the show because we promise them that they will get an award. Only Amit ji comes in the hope of his son or daughter in law winning. Poor guy! And if awards are going to people like Richa Chaddha, Sanjay Mishra, Nawazuddin Siddiqui then stars won’t turn up and who will watch an awards ceremony without stars.” Most of the people on the table had never heard of any other name except that of Nawazuddin Siddiqui and that too because he had acted with Bhai.

Somebody added “Who wants to watch Nawazuddin give a performance in an awards night?”

The head was losing his patience now. “Seriously guys, 15 of you can’t think of ONE way to make an award night different from the trillion already on air!” His voice rose a decibel with every syllable.

A young new writer had recently joined the team “Sir I have some ideas.” 15 pairs of eyes got focussed on him.

He continued “Sir we can have better script. Did you watch Chris Rock delivering his monologue on opportunities for Black Actors and diversity? Why can’t we have something like that? Priyanka Chopra played a north-eastern girl in ‘Marykom’ when any north-eastern actor could have done that role. Somebody gave veteran Assamese director and National Award winner Jahnu Barua ‘Best Debut Director’ award for his Hindi movie! Can you believe it? We have so much diversity in India and yet we don’t have diversity in our cinema. There is raci..”

Chief writer felt that new guy is hogging too much limelight so he interrupted him “Oh sir, Priyanka Chopra was at Oscars too. This year we give her a special award for being first Indian to give an award at Oscars.”

This opened flood gates and ideas flew thick and fast!

“Sir we create a new award catgory for actors and actresses in Hollywood movies and TV.”

“Sir we create a new award category for kids of stars. Anyways they get awards once they start acting in movies. This way we will have dibs on them!”

“Sir we give an award to Sanjay Dutt for coming out of jail. And one to Salman Khan for staying out of jail.”

“Sir we give an award to Karan Johar for hosting so many awards. We call it ‘Lifetime Award Hosting Achievement Award’.”

For next 30 minutes cabin was awash with creative juices of the men and women in the room. Many more innovative ideas were given and taken for creating an award which would be termed as India’s answer to Oscars.

“Vimal Pan Masala presents Fair & Lovely Sony Cineblitz Cinema Excellence Awards powered by Kurkure and Nerolac Tractor Emulsion” is coming soon to a TV Screen near you.