Good cinema, not stars, to shine at Twitter film awards


MUMBAI – After years of Bollywood award functions dominated by glamorous movie stars, fans in India are now using Twitter to honour deserving performances snubbed by the more mainstream events.
A rant on Twitter about an apparent bias in Indian film awards led to the launch of the Tweeple Film Awards, with more than 1,500 Twitter users voting to choose the jury alone.
“Film awards are commercialised, pander to stars and are given out depending on which star is attending the function,” says Nikhil Taneja, a 24-year-old website editor who came up with the idea. “I was ranting about this on Twitter and tweeted that perhaps it was time for a change. That tweet has led to a full-blown award function now.”
Taneja and popular film blogger Somen Mishra have now got 30 of India’s top film critics on board and asked the twitterati to vote for 30 movie buffs who would make good jury members. “We are now ready with the nominations and are working on getting sponsors on board. If everything goes well, we will have an on ground event this month,” Taneja said.
Bollywood hosts several film awards every year, most organised by film magazines and event management companies. In recent years, most such functions have been criticised for lacking transparency and favouring certain stars. This year, the Filmfare Awards came in for criticism after the top prizes were bagged by Karan Johar’s ‘My Name is Khan,’ a film that starred Shah Rukh Khan but didn’t get the best reviews.
The Tweeple Film Awards feature smaller films that didn’t have any stars, including ‘Udaan,’ a small-budget film that made it to Cannes last year and ‘Love Sex Aur Dhokha,’ an edgy film about sexual mores in small-town India.
Priyanka Sinha Jha, editor of ‘Screen’ magazine which organises the Star Screen Awards every year, admits there are hurdles when it comes to inviting stars to an award function.
“Yes, stars do ask if they are winning or not but that is understandable as they are extremely busy people and would have to rearrange their schedule if they are to be present for the show,” says Jha.
But Taneja says the Twitter version of film awards will be different, and doesn’t mind it being shorn of glamour if it means good cinema is being promoted – and watched by more people.
“Most of the awards functions only award the big stars, because they want to keep them happy. We want to promote good cinema, even if it doesn’t have big stars,” he says.
“Even if we encourage people to go out and catch such films, I think our purpose is achieved.”