50th anniversary of Filmfare awards a special event

By Subhash K. Jha, IANS

imageMumbai, Feb 21 (IANS) This being the 50th year of the Filmfare awards and also the year when the long-term sponsors Manikchand had to be shown the door due to alleged underworld links, the Feb 26 ceremony promises to be more special than ever.

The live performances would include never-before acts with Amitabh Bachchan and Abhishek Bachchan together.

The awards this year seem to be excruciatingly reflective of the mediocrity that prevailed in Hindi cinema in 2005.

It's a pity that films like Sanjay Gadhvi's "Dhoom" (a fluff entertainer at the most) and Kunal Kohli's "Hum Tum" (mediocre and derivative) had to rub shoulders in the nominations lists with truly deserving films like Yash Chopra's "Veer-Zaara" and Ashutosh Gowariker's "Swades" for want of a choice.

Though Farhan Akhtar and Raj Kumar Santoshi are nominated in the best director's category for "Lakshya" and "Khakee", respectively, their works do not figure in the best film nominations, thereby throwing open the age-old debate - can a director be among the best of the year without his film being nominated?

Three out of the five nominations for best actor go to Shah Rukh Khan who has been nominated for every release of his in 2004. Hrithik Roshan in "Lakshya" and Amitabh Bachchan in "Khakee" are unlikely to score over 'King' Khan in either "Veer-Zaara" or "Swades".

The best actress list includes a few surprises. Aishwarya Rai in "Raincoat" and Shilpa Shetty in "Phir Milenge" were certainly not popular performances in popular films.

This year the Filmfare awards try to balance out the more popular names and films with the recognition-worthy nominations, like Ashutosh Gowariker's "Swades" and Urmila Matondkar's performance in "Ek Haseena Thi". Neither was a box-office success but nonetheless worthy of recognition.

Some of the nominees would probably be surprised by the categories they've been nominated in. Akshay Kumar and Saif Ali Khan, undoubtedly the leading men of "Mujhse Shaadi Karogi" and "Hum Tum", respectively, share the 'Best Actor In A Comic Role' category with Paresh Rawal, Boman Irani and Arshad Warsi.

And Abhishek Bachchan, Ajay Devgan, John Abraham, Suniel Shetty and Priyanka Chopra (!!) share the category for 'Best Actor In A Villainous Role', thereby reflecting the changing face of villainy in the film industry.

The winner in this diabolic category is likely to be either Abhishek or Priyanka. And if Priyanka wins, Abhishek would in all likelihood win the award in the best supporting actor category for the same performance in "Yuva".

Interestingly, Akshay Kumar and Abhishek Bachchan are nominated in both the best-supporting actor and comic categories for the same performances.

Akshay is nominated twice in the supporting actors' list, the second time for "Khakee" though not in the comic category for "Khakee" though he's meant to be the comic relief in that film.

The abysmal music scene in 2004 is reflected in Anu Malik's nomination for "Murder" where at least two major hits were derived from Pakistani sources. Madan Mohan is likely to walk away posthumously with the trophy in this category for his skilled songs in "Veer-Zaara".

Lyricist Javed Akhtar scores a new record by being nominated five times over in the best lyricists' category. Prasoon Joshi deserved a nomination for his brilliant work in "Phir Milenge".

As for female playback singers, Alka Yagnik is nominated for three songs, two of them duets, hence not quite the showcase they are meant to be.

Though the rest of the nominations are yet to be announced, Sammir Dattani's award for the best male debutant of 2004 seems inevitable, considering lack of genuine and exciting fresh talent during the year.