Like a Whodunit mystery novel we need to identify the motive..is there a motive at all? Or is this just a case of fortuitous timing ? Or has somebody decided that India's time has come now. Rather skeptical one would say? Actually no, there have been instances which give rise to a suspicion like this. Ang Lee made his “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon” and got rave reviews, the movie grossed millions and Oscars too. It was a good movie, a sweeping epic and Lee is a deserving candidate. But the curious case was in the timing of Lee’s winning. Lee represented China. As a market it was opening to the world just then and the USA like any hungry predator was eyeing it ; the billion plus consumers in that markets & its low cost manufacturing strength. Call this a co-incidence but it was judicious timing. Even the Miss World or Universe was a Chinese a few years from then.
Can we in India forget the years when we were winning all the titles at the beauty pageants? In fact in 1994 India won both the Ms Universe and Ms World, Sushmita Sen & Aishwarya Rai. This feat was again repeated by Lara Dutta and Priyanca Chopra in 2000. Looking at Indias tryst with beauty pageants, systemically after Madhu Sapre our first real winning probable (who like P T Usha our Olympic Hope) lost out by a hairs whisker we became smarter definitely in terms of grooming and training. But did our roll call of beauties dry up between then & now? What was so significant about the years 1994 and 2000 ?
The year 1994 was when the then Prime Minister Narasimha Rao gave the mandate to his finance minister Dr. Manmohan Singh to chart out a new financial course for the country. Rao and Singh opened India to the world. The world wanted an in, into the huge middle class market that is India.What better way to give that sense of having arrived and being connected than with a few international awards. The year 2000 was the year of the Y2K and the world was scared of coming to its digital end. The only country who seemingly had a skilled army to combat this was India. Now Lara and Priyanca are quite lovely ladies but here too the timing was rather fortunate.
Corporate India's timing is no better. This writer used to work for an engineering company and it was a great place to be. Some wise heads had instituted "a person of the month" and "person of the quarter" award to encourage team members to perform better. The whole office once a month would gather in the conference room and the chief would declare the nominees and the winner. All nominees & winners were deserving candidates on account of the work put in. It was on the occasion when this author got a "person of the quarter award" that things became clearer. He was surprised as in that quarter he had nothing spectacular to his name. His achievements were from a few quarters earlier. Did he then on principle return the award? Nope. It carried a cash prize with it and salaries being pretty ordinary anyways, every supplement to it was welcome. But it disillusioned him on being rewarded for a good work from time that had gone by. It made him look at most awards now with a jaundiced eye. And truly so the eye is not misplaced; As he shared this with a few friends of his on this take he found concurrence.
Look at the Filmfare awards (Indias Oscars), they were an institution once but today are in a pretty sad state. Everybody who is somebody has to have an award or else he or she shall not perform at their charity function. The amount of lobbying that happens behind the scenes is terrible. The winner has to be deserving you say? Dont worry at all, if u are not getting the popular awards, we shall institute a new category. Shahrukh has to get some award every year, so what if it’s an award for being the first Hindi movie star to buy a cricket team? He can still look heavenwards and thank his mom. Aamir came under flak for withdrawing his name from these awards and immediately was shunned for a while, till he started churning out mega hits. Then despite his non presence he was winning awards. He is so powerful now kuch to dena hi padega na? If he doesn’t accept one its ok, that's his call…We did our bit and awarded you.
This is the anomaly I feel of Rahman with his Slumdog nomination, a deserving candidate, who may be awarded well after his time for a work that just doesn’t even approach public acceptable levels ( Have u seen any one croon Jai Ho? Isnt that the only measure for the success of a song or music ? ) let alone his own very high standards. We may have a debate on the veracity and some would say "Why bother, now look here, isnt the right guy getting it ? He is ours too so so why make a fuss. The issue here that it is the person being awarded and not his work.The person was around yesterday and will be around tomorrow too. Something is skewed here or the entire award winning and giving equation stinks. The larger answer to this seems to be the greed motive - Hollywood wants a slice of the worlds largest movie making industry now - and is incentivising it with awards. Napolean said it best " Give me a few medals to give and I shall win any war for France"