Saturday, March 5, 2011

Explaining the TwiFi Awards nominations

I have not written down my views on TwiFi Awards so far, but I think I NEED to now. Don’t want to do it on the official ‘TwiFi Awards FB page’ so doing it here. The nominations for the first TwiFi awards were declared on Thursday evening. While there was still overwhelming support from many quarters, there was also a ‘backlash’, if I can call it that, form many avid film buffs, including those who are part of the jury. Many questions were raised and I want to answer them one by one. This may be long – so just skip straight to the part that you want answered, if you please

1. Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai are nominated, so these awards are #epicfail and disappointing because these are popular choices and TwiFi wasn’t supposed to have popular nominees.

Let me go back a bit and tell all those who don’t know HOW these awards were started:
I ranted about bad film nominations in other awards and wondered aloud HOW in the world could these people be nominated? What sort of a jury would nominate them? So I suggested why not we start something where the entire process would be FAIR, TRANSPARENT AND UNBIASED. And people would KNOW how the nominations were reached... in fact, the people would be involved in the process of it all.

I had started this for fun... but people were kind and generous in making this a deal bigger than I could have imagined. I thought, to be fair and unbiased, we should not involve anyone FROM industry on jury, and instead, we should have people who have actually seen every movie that comes out and are supposed to be unbiased by job description – Critics.

But again: This was NEVER supposed to be solely a critics’ choice awards – else, we would have never involved a tweeple jury and would not even have had audience voting. We’d have got critics’ votes and been done with it at that. But this was this was supposed to be ‘of, by and for’  tweeple, so we HAD to have a tweeple jury.

58 PEOPLE were on jury – 29 Critics, 29 Tweeple.
50 voted for the nominations – 24 Critics, 26 Tweeple.

When such a large number is involved, including a tweeple jury, I was never expecting ‘perfect nominations’. We obviously knew that we couldn’t have FAIL nominations – because the tweeple on the jury were also voted for on Twitter by movie buffs, including the critics and even people from the film fraternity. But these were never supposed to be solely critics’ choice. YET, we tried our best to make sure we have the ‘best possible’ nominations:

We had tweetups in 6 cities across India to discuss how the nominations should ideally happen: . Over 100 film buffs came together in Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Cochin. PLEASE GO THROUGH THE LINK TO READ THE AGENDA: “WHOSE AWARDS ARE IT ANYWAY?” Questions like ‘Is it an elitist award or a people’s award?’, ‘Who exactly deserves to be in supporting categories’,  ‘What’s a good film or performance’ – ALL THE THINGS PEOPLE ARE ‘DISAPPOINTED’ ABOUT WERE RAISED AT THE TWEETUPS.

We wanted your feedback because we saw this coming, and we got some spectacular feedback where people realised that this is a start in the right direction and we ALL have to contribute in making this perfect: . All this was announced many times on the #TwiFi id.. so honestly, I’m very, very surprised to see people saying they were ‘disappointed’. I have no idea what they were expecting because even at the Mumbai tweetup, the very first tweetup, I must have repeated a 100 times – Please don’t support this award because you think the nominations are going to change the world. HELP US PUT TOGETHER A PROCESS that will ensure the best possible nominations, and then, please continue supporting us because this process was arrived at by discussion with all of YOU! And if it does throw up anomalies, please give us constructive criticism on how to make this better, and continue the support because we involved ALL of you and tried our best.

To further ensure that we have good nominations, we came up with TwiFi commandments - . We hoped these commandments would ensure people vote sensibly, and for good cinema. In the official mail we sent to the jury when we started the nomination process, we gave a link to these commandments. Here are some of the pts of the commandments:
1.       Every nominee should be as good or almost as good as the winner. No one should be included just to fill in the quota.
2.       The films nominated should be popular because of its content and not because of the popularity of its  song/album/film/actor/star/director.
3.       There will be no attempt to please all - people/films shouldn't be nominated in different categories just so that they win something. 

If, after this, some names have come in that you guys are not happy about, at least you need to give us the fact that we tried! And we are still trying -  we WILL take your constructive criticism and make this better! The most important thing here is: this IS the TWEEPLE awards. The public is involved at EVERY stage – that’s why we had tweetups. Is there anything we did that you didn't agree with? If after doing everything according to what everyone's wanted, there've still been a couple of downers, it's not too much to forgive for the first year?

Also, we’ll put up the individual nominations soon, so you'll get to SEE how we arrived at those nominations so you know we're not doing it to please someone or piss someone off. We haven't claimed to be the best thing to have happened to the industry.. but we do claim to be fair and transparent, and if you support us in that endevaour.. we'll work on making it even better next year!

2. The case of Naseeruddin Shah and Arshad Warsi
If you see the agenda of the tweetups (, we did raise these questions – how do you differentiate a best actor and best actor in supporting role? And the feedback clearly showed that parallel leads should not be considered supporting because they are ‘lesser stars’ than the ‘main hero/heroine’.

This is what happened: Some people thought Naseer was the ‘lead’ and put arshad in supporting, others thought arshad is ‘lead’ and put naseer is supporting. The point here is, people wanted the two of them to be nominated for sure, and it again, ultimately came down to their individual perceptions – who THEy think was the ‘hero’ and who they think was the ‘supporting actor’. Also, since there could only be 5 best actor noms and people felt there are others not from ishqiya who deserved to be in these categories,  they voted the other lead in the other category.

The worst situation would have been when because of this split, both would not get nominated – but the great thing is, both did! But seriously people, can WE dictate an individual critics’ perception of the movie? How can WE tell him/her that you are wrong in saying Arshad is the lead and Naseer is supporting.. or vice versa? Awards are ultimately based on perception, and this may just show that the only ‘lead’ in the movie was Vidya Balan, and Arshad and  Naseer were supporting roles!

3. The case of people being left out because of one or two votes:
We thought initially that we’d have 5 noms in each category – but  you know what? If you guys feel so strongly that its unfair Sanjay Mishra and Manu Rishi lost out by 1 vote or Do Dooni Chaar didnt make it by one vote, and so on – please remember, these awards are OF, FOR AND BY THE PEOPLE. We will definitely not disrespect the jury’s choices and delete anyone from the 5 they have chosen, but we can certainly increase the categories to 6 or 7... what say? If enough of you want that, we’re with you on this!

4. Where we did go wrong:
We didn’t SPECIFY that you can keep your nomination ‘blank’. We also didn’t have a rule that said something like if 4 nominees have clear 50% + majority, and the next highest nominee has only 5% votes, that nominee should not be included and we should wrap up the category at 4 nominations. But since it’s never too late – we WILL do this next year. But as I said, we don’t want to disrespect the jury, so we are not reducing the number this year from 5.

5. ‘These awards are similar to other awards’
I'm personally quite proud of the nominations these awards have thrown up. I didn’t want to defend them but because there are people who only go by what they see, here’s a comparison in some categories. Except for one or two similarities in terms of ‘popular’ choices, TwiFi nominations are clearly very, very different from all others:

If you have any other questions, please do ask. If you have any sort of constructive criticism, please, PLEASE do give. If you are still disappointed with it all, we are sorry and hopefully, we’ll try and make this an even better process next year so that we can live up to your expectations as well. But this has come so far just because you guys thought it deserved to come this far – do continue your support till the end now. Give us a chance J

Also, do read Amit Gurbaxani's review of the nominations at Mumbai Boss, pretty fair I think:

Awards Comparisons

TwiFi Best Film
Love, Sex Aur Dhokha
Peepli Live
Band Baaja Baaraat

Filmfare Best Film
Peepli Live
Band Baaja Baraat

Zee Cine Awards Best Film
•’Golmaal 3’
•’My Name Is Khan’
•’Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai’
•’Peepli [Live]’

Apsara Best film
Once Upon atIme In Mumbai
Band Baaja Baraat
My Name is Khan

Star Screen Best Film
Band Baaja Baaraat
Love Sex Aur Dhoka
Peepli [Live]
Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai

TwiFi Best Director
Vikramaditya Motwane – Udaan
Dibakar Banerjee – Love, Sex Aur Dhokha
Abhishek Chaubey – Ishqiya
Maneesh Sharma – Band Baaja Baaraat
Anusha Rizvi – Peepli [Live]

Filmfare Best Director

Abhinav Kashyap (Dabangg)
Karan Johar (My Name Is Khan)
Manish Sharma (Band Baaja Baaraat )
Sanjay Leela Bhansali (Guzarish)
Vikramaditya Motwane (Udaan)

Zee Cine
Abhinav Kashyap – ‘Dabangg’
•Karan Johar – ‘My Name Is Khan’
•Milan Luthria – ‘Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai’
•Prakash Jha – ‘Raajneeti’
•Sajid Khan – ‘Housefull’
•Sanjay Leela Bhansali – ‘Guzaarish’

Prakash Jha: Raajneeti
Milan Luthria: Once Upon a Time in Mumbai
Karan Johar: My Name is Khan
Dibakar Banerjee: Love Sex Aur Dhokha
Sanjay Leela Bhansali: Guzaarish

Star Screen
Anusha Rizvi – Peepli Live
Dibakar Banerjee – Love Sex Aur Dhoka
Maneesh Sharma – Band Bajaa Baaraat
Prakash Jha – Raajneeti
Milan Luthria – Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai
Vikramaditya Motwane – Udaan

TwiFi Best Music
Amit Trivedi - Udaan
Vishal Bhardwaj - Ishqiya
Shailendra Barve, Amit Trivedi, Vishal Bhardwaj, Swanand Kirkire, Yuvan Shankar Raja and Blaaze - Striker
Indian Ocean, Raghuveer Yadav, Brij Mandal, Bhadwai and Nageen Tanvir - Peepli [Live]
Amit Trivedi - Aisha

Star Screen
Sajid-Wajid - Dabangg
Vishal-Shekhar - I Hate Luv Storys
Vishal Bhardwaj - Ishqiya
Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy - Karthik Calling Karthik
Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy - My Name Is Khan
Pritam - Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai
Indian Ocean & others - Peepli [Live]

Zee Cine
•‘Sajid-Wajid – ‘Dabangg’
•Pritam – ‘Once Upon a Time in Mumbai’
•Pritam – ‘Golmaal 3’
•Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy – ‘Karthik Calling Karthik’
•Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy – ‘Housefull’
•Vishal-Shekhar – ‘Tees Maar Khan’

Vishal Shekhar: I hate Luv Stories
Sajid Wajid: Dabangg
Pritam: Once Upon a Time in Mumbai
Pritam: Crook
Vishal Bharadwaj: Ishqiya
Shankar Ehsaan Loy: My Name is Khan

Pritam Chakraborty (Once Upon A Time In Mumbai)
Sajid – Wajid & Lalit Pandit (Dabangg)
Shankar Ehsaan Loy (My Name Is Khan)
Vishal – Shekhar (Anjaana Anjaani)
Vishal – Shekhar (I Hate Luv Storys)
Vishal Bhardwaj (Ishqiya)

Twifi Best Actor In a Lead Role (Male)
Rishi Kapoor – Do Dooni Chaar
Ranveer Singh – Band Baaja Baaraat
Rajat Barmecha – Udaan
Omkar Das Manikpuri – Peepli [Live]
Hrithik Roshan – Guzaarish

Filmfare Best Actor In a Lead Role (Male)

Ajay Devgn (Once Upon A Time In Mumbai)
Hrithik Roshan (Guzaarish)
Salman Khan(Dabangg)
Shah Rukh Khan (My Name Is Khan)
Ranbir Kapoor (Raajneeti)

Zee Cine Awards Best Actor In a Lead Role (Male)
•Ajay Devgn – ‘Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai’
•Hrithik Roshan – ‘Guzaarish’
•Ranbir Kapoor – ‘Raajneeti’
•Salman Khan – ‘Dabangg’
•Shah Rukh Khan – ‘My Name Is Khan’
•Akshay Kumar – ‘Housefull’

Apsara Best Actor In a Lead Role (Male)
Ajay Devgn: Once Upon a Time in Mumbai
Shah Rukh Khan: My Name is Khan
Hrithik Roshan: Guzaarish
Ranbir Kapoor: Raajneeti
Salman Khan: Dabangg

Star Screen Best Actor In a Lead Role (Male)
Ajay Devgn – Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai
Hrithik Roshan – Guzaarish
Ranbir Kapoor – Raajneeti
Salman Khan – Dabangg
Shah Rukh Khan – My Name Is Khan
Naseeruddin Shah – Ishqiya
Rishi Kapoor – Do Dooni Chaa

TwiFi Best Actor In A Lead Role (Female)
Vidya Balan - Ishqiya
Anushka Sharma – Band Baaja Baaraat
Neetu Singh – Do Dooni Chaar
Kajol – My Name Is Khan
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan - Guzaarish

Filmfare Best Actor (Female) in a Leading Role

Aishwariya Rai Bachchan (Guzaarish)
Anushka Sharma (Band Baaja Baaraat )
Kajol (My Name Is Khan)
Kareena Kapoor (Golmaal 3)
Vidya Balan (Ishqiya)

Star Screen
Aishwarya Rai – Guzaarish
Anushka Sharma – Band Baaja Baaraat
Deepika Padukone – Break Ke Baad
Kajol – My Name Is Khan
Kareena Kapoor – Golmaal 3
Vidya Balan – Ishqiya
Katrina Kaif – Raajneeti

Zee Cine
Aishwarya Rai – ‘Guzaarish’
•Anushka Sharma – ‘Band Baaja Baaraat’
•Deepika Padukone – ‘Break Ke Baad’
•Kajol – ‘My Name Is Khan’
•Kareena Kapoor – ‘Golmaal 3’
•Vidya Balan – ‘Ishqiya’
•Katrina Kaif – ‘Raajneeti’

Anushka Sharma: Band Baaja Baarat
Kajol: My Name is Khan
Kareena Kapoor: Golmaal 3
Vidya Balan: Ishqiya
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan: Guzaarish

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Waisa Bhi Hota Hai Part II

Note: This post will make NO sense to you if you haven't read the first part: Hi, I'm Nikhil and I'm NOT an alcoholic. Read that now, or forever lose your peace.

My memories of being five include lying under the bed of my mom and masi and reciting poems to them, smearing vicks vapourub all over my body because I had a cold, running away from a five-year-old girl who wanted to kiss me (True story), being told by my teacher at school that I should wear chaddis everyday, falling into a drain next to my house, getting ready in a super hurry as my friends would come in to help me pack for school even as the rickshawallah rang the bell outside my house again and again and threatened to leave, and resolving to not speak to my father because he was a chain smoker.

Yes, for a five-year-old kid who hated chaddis, I had a strong sense of morality. I don't remember how I knew smoking was bad, but I would tell my father to quit every day. My father would promise, but never live up to it. And then, one day, I just stopped talking to him. Considering how much I love to talk, I guess I must have kept quiet for a REALLY long time (like a whole day or something), that he freaked out. And gave up smoking forever.

I grew up in Bahrain, but when I look back right now, I might as well have grown up in Disneyland, because I have no recollection of anything remotely evil happening around (read people smoking, drinking or having underage sex... umm, okay, that may have been evil because I wasn't getting any). In school, smoking and drinking were the least of my concerns. I was more worried about whether I'll ever get to kiss a girl (or pull her cheeks - true story) than about anything else. And funny I should say that, because I was so daft that once a girl who actually agreed to like me back said she wanted to kiss me, and I got super freaked out about my izzat! I mean, I wasn't ready to be a father at that age!!

But as Tapas pointed out in his comment in my previous post, I was just shut out to stuff happening around me. I do recollect that a few guys in my batch did smoke, and also remember how I'd give some of them, who were friends with me, long lectures about how they were betraying their parents (I had very few friends left at the end of school, yes). But funnily enough, I don't recollect anyone who used to drink. Drinking was a thing grown-ups did at parties because they needed something to help them stand each other.

All my conversations about drinking at the time of school - with any of my friends - were about how it's despicable that adults do it even though it's wrong, and how we'd never drink on growing up (or on just growing, in general). Maybe it was influenced by the fact that in Bollywood movies we grew up on, each time the villain was shown drinking, in the next scene, he'd go rape the hero's sister. And of course, the hero drank to take revenge. Or to do comedy. Since we were always funny (haha, see how subtly I slip in a word of praise for myself? I'm so cool! .. And there, I did it again!) and were concerned about people's sisters, we had all decided that drinking was bad.

Even in my first year of college, all my friends who weren't born with a bottle of Johnny Walker (or desi santara) in their hands, hadn't had drinks because they actually thought it was bad. But as time went by, they all started drinking, for innovative reasons like, 'Seniors told us that all grown ups drink', 'Dude, to socialise in office parties after you graduate, you need to drink', 'I wanted to see what being high means', 'I want to try out everything in life', 'It was a party, yaar!' 'Abey, we were getting free booze, get it? FREE', 'Arre, but everyone was drinking', 'I was thirsty' or of course, 'Teri ma ki ****'.

These were, of course, the same people who had sworn to not drink, not smoke, get good marks and get laid before college ends. None of that worked out, obviously (or there would have been a LOT of sex happening at NIT Kurukshetra). But to be really honest, while growing up, I never met a person who said, 'When I'm old enough, I'd really like to drink because it seems like fun.'

In school, most people were anti-smoking and anti-drinking because it was all we knew at that time (or we didn't know better!). In college, I felt that everyone started smoking and drinking, because the fad had changed. For a very long time, no reason seemed good enough to convince me to drink, or an explanation for why others did it. Because, most people, to me, seemed perfectly alright while growing up. I never understood how booze could have made those childhood memories more perfect.

Think about it. Your first crush. The first time you asked out a girl and she said yes. Or the 10 times they all said no. The first time your heart skipped a beat on seeing someone beautiful. Your first kiss. Your first attempted kiss. Your first attempted kiss that led to your first break up. Your first heartbreak. The first time you said I love you. The first time (years later), when someone said I love you back too. The first time you wrote a poem full of cuss words after you got dumped. When you worked really hard for an exam, and kicked ass in it. When you screwed up royally and blamed it on the teacher. When you kicked in the nuts of that guy you really hated. When you got beaten up for asking out a girl who already had a boyfriend.

All those happy/sad/proud/embarrassing memories you had in school. Did you go home and drink after that to  'mark the occasion'? Weren't they perfect the way they were? Would booze have made all those moments even more awesome? I don't even get the whole concept of getting 'high'. I've been high many times (at least I think so). The first time a girl said 'I love you to me' (apart from my Mom). The first time I made my parents proud of me. When I won that competition I had worked my ass off for. A brilliant movie (not the X-rated kinds. Okay well, that too). Getting my first paycheque. Dancing all night with friends (Balle balle!). Helping make a difference in someone's life. Making someone smile. Doing something stupid with friends. A Zakir Hussain concert (hell yeah, baby!).

On a slightly serious note, I also don't buy the whole concept of 'I drink in moderation and don't lose control.' That's because I am the only one who's not drunk and I can see, first hand, all those who are. When you are drinking, your brain gets fuzzy and you hardly realise if you are losing control. A school friend of mine was at a beach party with his friends. They all had too much to drink. My friend went to piss into the ocean, and got swept away. His body was found the next day. I know it's a freak incident, but the point is simply that you really don't know what you are doing when you are drunk. You slip once, and you don't know how you'd end up. And woah, that's a scary place to be in!

But it's not that I don't drink because I'm scared of losing control and raping the hero's sister, or because I think I *truly* know the sacred secrets of being high. I don't drink simply because I never wanted to. And I'm often judged as this 'nice' guy (read: BORING), or this prude, and well, sometimes, as this plain weird dude (that rhymed!) who doesn't know how to live it up (I know bhangra, okay?). But you know what? I don't judge back now. Because well, I had promised myself to get six pack abs, like, 6 years ago, but as my two-pack body CLEARLY suggests, I failed. I had sworn never to watch porn after getting caught. But well... umm... no, didn't work out. I had plotted to be world famous by 21. I'm 23, and well, I have the time to write this humongously long blog at 4 am. So no, no world domination yet.

Yes, I didn't really live up to some promises I made to myself either. But some I did. At the same time, I know some AWESOME people who smoke, drink and even smoke up at times. Some are best friends and some I look up to. I don't think they'd be any better or worse if they didn't drink. In the same way, I have had ENOUGH kahaani mein twists through these years, without drinking. I don't think my life could have been ANY more interesting, if I had been drinking.

Because it took me a long time to understand that who you are has nothing to do with what you drink. Whether your drink is Vodka or Pepsi. As long as you enjoy it (and don't die), it's all good, isn't it?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Hi, I'm Nikhil, and I'm NOT an Alcoholic.

It was in the summer of 2004 when I had my first experience of, what they call, a 'culture shock'.

My family and I went on a Europe tour that summer. My most distinct memory of that tour is walking into a regular grocery shop in London and seeing a bunch of pornos, right besides the newspapers! Since my parents were along with me, I had no idea how to conceal my excitement, and at the same time, casually browse through the magazines - which, by the way, had full on x-rated stuff happening on the cover, with absolutely NO attempts to hide any of the action.

And of course, I also remember how I entered my hotel room, which I shared only with my younger brother (who slept most of the time), switched on the television and saw.. MORE porn! For free! Entire channels devoted to it! And when I went outside for a walk, I realised how 'baniyans' were like the national dress for the chicks in London. Yes, I admit, I was in Disneyland, and I totally fell heads over heels in love with London.

A month later, I arrived in National Institute of Technology, Kurukshetra, for a four-year-long rape called engineering. My hostel was filled with all kinds, breeds and species of animals - and I'm not talking about the dogs, lizards, frogs and pigeons, who considered it home sweet home. Misery loves company, and on realising that just to shit, we'd have to travel like 20 metres from our rooms, by the end of the very first day in the hostel, all of us had gathered to pay our condolences and last respects - to each other.

That's when I got my second - and much bigger - culture shock. One NRI kid, just like me, suggested that we  wallow, not in self pity, but in bottles of 'daaru'. To say that I was taken aback is like saying I enjoy getting kicked in the nuts (I don't, just for the record). To be entirely honest, I was !@#$!@$ fucking shocked out of my bloody skull! It was like someone had asked me to donate my liver! .. While I was still alive! Or something much, much worse and sinister. Like.. like.. someone had asked me to share my food!! Only it wasn't food, it was my liver. And only it wasn't share, it was donate.

I was so scandalised, I thanked the group for the enjoyable evening I had spent with them discussing our very first respective sexual experiences (and umm.. the guy with the most exciting sex life was the one who got to shake hands with girls regularly) and went back to my room and hid under my bed. It took me some time to make peace with the fact that I had come to a place where people were much more grown up than I was (which is a polite way of saying that I thought they were cunts) and that they drank alcohol.

For the first semester, I tried to convert the religion of people from daaru to plain awesomeness. I tried Chanakyaneeti's saam, daam, dand and bhed to make sure, at least the people I was friends with, stayed off it - or well, didn't drink in my room. I broke bottles of whiskey that came from people's fathers' hard earned money, I threatened my room mate that I'd call the warden if he so much as smelt like he had been within a mile of a daaru battle, and I preached to everyone how they were betraying their parents' trust by drinking.

No, this story doesn't end with, 'And then.. I had my first sip'. From being so contrived as to judging people and dividing them in categories of evil and good, depending on whether they drink or not, to giving them company with Pepsi (bottoms up) while they drink like there's no tomorrow, I still haven't had a sip of alcohol. Or beer. Or mocktails. Or cocktails. Or fruit beer (just because it has the word beer in it). Or Cheeku shake. Okay, the last one's simply because I don't like the sound of it :p

And the irony here is, that people now get a culture shock when they meet me! 'Which planet are you from dude?' 'Fuck, are you serious? You've never even tasted it?' 'Chal, hatt, liar!' 'Mere liye vodka, aur Nikhil ke liye doodh' 'Do you want your Pepsi neat or should I order some water with it?' And of course, the most common of all, 'Is it a religious thing?'

No, it isn't a religious thing. I don't wear a sacred thread and haven't sworn any oath that I'll not drink alcohol until God helps me lose 30 kgs. Nor have my parents so far confessed to being from Pandora. And no, I don't want doodh, I want my Pepsi. Neat, and on the rocks.

But obviously, the next question that everyone asks me is, 'Then how come?' Welll... it's because... *suspense music* .....

To Be Continued

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Post chahiye?

Kyun nahin, kyun nahin