People excel in many fields. Some excel over a long time. In recognition of their work, organisations declare prizes or medals. Great! We are always happy when others appreciate us. It could be for our looks or success in an examination. It may be for achievement in art, science or sports! The recognition helps us achieve more, to better ourselves.
Parents encourage their progeny when they are growing up. It is a joyful day in any household when a child puts independent steps without any support. The same is true when the same child cycles on its own. The child is further elated when it rides, shouting, “Ma, no hands!” It has bettered itself.
But there seem to be some organisations and people who make this simple process, complex and controversial. Recently a photographer from India, living in Kashmir, was awarded the Booker Prize. The prize seems to be awarded to Indians to create controversy. Another such person to get the Booker Prize was Arundhati Roy, first Indian to get it. In the first case, the person is not controversial, nor is the photograph. It is the citation that created the controversy. After Pakistan, so-called, globalised the Kashmir issue, there have been attempts by some people and organisations to keep the issue burning, all the time. Instead of bypassing the regional controversy, they mention words like Indian Occupied Kashmir in the citation. But this is a non-Indian organisation, but there are Indian politicians from a national party who toe the line and blow their trumpet. They could have easily avoided this by congratulating the person for excellent photography and making a statement against the organisation for stoking regional controversies.
But no, they don’t do it. These people practically endorse it. The photograph mentioned above is excellent, but Roy’s book, The God of Small Things, was beyond the understanding of most ordinary people. I bought the book and tried to read it at different times, but to no avail. I have discussed with many friends, and they also had the same opinion. It appears that the persons of her ilk seem to get a license to rubbish the Indian state at all levels, every time. These people will say terrorism is terrible, after 26/11, but will try to link it to the persecution of the people post-partition. She tied 26/11 to Kashmir issue and kept on justifying. When they are asked for a solution, they will say it is for the government to find it; she is only going to criticise. It could be a Narmada dam project or Naxalite issue. She will always be on the side of the sufferers. There is no question that the rehabilitation of displaced people must be done. The reasons behind Naxalite issues are justified, but the means adopted by Naxalites can never be justified.
When the US attacked Afghanistan after 9/11, using force against terrorism was not the solution as per the lady. Probably there should have been a face to face meeting in Davos or St Moritz in some convention centre with the terrorists to resolve issues. When Naxalites have a problem, they attack and kill about a hundred policemen, using landmines. But when the government forces counter-attack, it cannot be justified. There are many such “liberals” who get the Prizes, but they are not staunch enough in their stand against India.
Then there are other organisations which are equally controversial but fortunately not so harmful; sometimes I feel that they are funny! Such organisations have become an industry formed because of the film industry, the world over. It could be Hollywood, Bollywood and film festivals. Films have a place in the modern world. The heroes and heroines become heartthrobs, and people follow every action by them outside the movies too. Hundreds of people wait outside their homes on their birthdays.
Surprisingly, we Indians have not overcome the awe we feel about anything foreign. India produces the maximum number of films in a year. We have our yearly ceremonies like Filmfare awards. In the US, it is Academy awards. The award ceremonies have become a business, and many organisations sponsor these ceremonies. There are popular categories and critics categories. In all these years, Critics and Popular awards have never been given to the same movies. Why is that so? It only indicates that the popular demand is quite different than those liked by critics. Last year there has been a big controversy that the winner of majority awards was favoured, slyly, over other good films.
Anyway, in any area where ranking is done, controversies are bound to be there. But these have reached a stage where a better actor like Amir Khan has stopped taking part in these ceremonies. The surprising aspect is that now he is not selected for these awards. He could be given awards in absentia. But that is not done.
Indians in general and Bollywood gang are enamoured by Hollywood. We get excited when someone from India gets an Academy award. Another thing observed is that Indian movies which show about India’s poverty are preferred movies for International awards. One should be happy and excited if the person receives a prize. It is the recognition of their work. It is a recognition of the work in a movie. But over some time, it is seen that people get a lifetime achievement award. The criteria it seems is to be alive on that day. Some of the persons who have received this award were never famous for their acting skills or versatility.
Then there are national awards given by a government body. In this category too, popular and critic views are in a total mismatch. I will not call these awards processes sham, but these indicate the realities of life. Sometimes favouritism takes place, but it is not the norm.
Now the last and the most exciting part of the filmy drama. There is something called Red-carpet walk. When the actors come to these ceremonies, they are decked for the show. They spend a vast amount of money on dresses. For the female actors at Academy awards or Cannes festival, the norm is to show off the biological assets. There is a competition going on to expose more and more. The gossip magazines and photographers are waiting for a moment which is famously called dress malfunction. In the dress malfunction, sometimes a breast pops out for a split second. Sometimes the innerwear of these ladies makes a fleeting display. Oh! Come on! Who is bothered? If you say this, then you are from a minority group! These photos are industry by themselves. If a videographer can catch this on a video, he has made it!
To me, the controversies in giving prizes, that create an issue about the sovereignty of a country, are a problem. If citizens of that nation are not bothered about these controversies, then there is more problem. But the dress malfunction is probably sometimes done on purpose! Your take, please!
I am okay with controversies because people have a different opinion. But when large nations like India have to suffer, I can not appreciate it.