Why is it that south Indian films never had a presence at the IIFA awards that are supposed to be about the India International brand, when most watchable Hindi films are remakes of Tamil, Telugu or Malayalam blockbusters?
Photo: MAHESH HARILAL
SOUTH NOT `INDIAN' ENOUGH? Actor Mammootty has questioned the very concept of the International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Award when competition is limited to just Hindi films
The International Indian Film Academy's (IIFA) official website states that it was set up to "promote Indian cinema globally, thus reaching out to millions of its fans", and describes itself as a "celebration of Indian cinema". Its section Indian Cinema, which talks about the great strides made by this Indian cinema, features, in that order, posters of Raja Harishchandra, Mughal-e-Azam, Sholay, Lagaan, Monsoon Wedding and Bride and Prejudice.
During his speech at the recently concluded IIFA awards night in Dubai, Mammootty (actor from Kerala, one of several non-Hindi and therefore `South' Indian actors,) asked: "How can this be called International Indian Awards when the competition is only limited to Hindi films?"
He also pointed out: "Indian cinema is not just Bollywood, and Hindi is not the only language. Why should our films be called South Indian cinema instead of being under the banner of Indian films?"
Happens all the time, the privileging of the north over the South: just look around the world, and sometimes, when the archetypal docility of the South mobilises itself as in Tamil Nadu into visible resistance, the north's strike is deep and persistent. If you thought that the "Madrasi" identity and the "Madrasi" voice in Hindi films, (made infamous by Mehmood who lived his life in the South) came about simply because the Tamil accent is so imitable, just remember that Tamil Nadu is the only State in the South which has had the temerity to say no to the juggernaut of homogenising Hindi.
Mammootty suggested that the Hindi film industry stand up to competition from the Southern film industry before calling itself international. Take into account that South Indians have won 14 out of 26 National Awards over that many years (Mammootty himself won it thrice, the Big B once, King Khan never) and that a significant number of Hindi films are remakes of successful South Indian films Telugu, Tamil, and Malayalam. And these include all old record-breaking Telugu and Tamil remakes. Remember those Jeetendra starrers?
Also consider the pattern. Whether it's Chachi 420 or the more recent Hulchul: the modus operandi is to take an intelligent, riotous comedy with well-knit plot and great dialogues, all blended lightly. Whip it up to a thin fizz, add lots of noise, more songs, often more heroines, give it a hit-over-head quality taking care to remove the intelligence, and presto! you have the Hindi version.
Black's winning so many awards proves the point: I cannot think of a more pretentious, more boring recent film, Amitabh Bachchan playing himself with spectacle-level noise and gesticulation. (Did you not hear people say Naseerudin Shah should have done the role?)
In conclusion, I will mention a talk show with Karan Johar, Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol.
There was this moment was when Kajol and Shah Rukh were ribbing Karan, and a giggly Kajol suggested that a film should be made on Junior Johar, and then she said: "We'll get `Maa-mutty' to play you." If I remember right, she also mentioned Sivaji Ganesan as a possibility. Why not Amitabh Bachchan? He would have got the accent right.
KALA KRISHNAN RAMESH
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