No room for controversies
Awards and controversies are inseparable cousins. Organising an award for 25 years without giving room for much controversy is no mean achievement.
The Kerala Film Critics Association award is perhaps the only private award that is being held uninterruptedly for the past 25 years.
Even in the jubilee year, the association has not grown in size but had been steadily organising cinema-related programmes, says the association general secretary, Mannarakayam Baby.
The association had a humble start in 1977 when a group of film journalists met at the behest of K. Aniyan, and Baby. The maiden award was presented to `Yudhakandam' at a modest function. Since then, the status of the award had increased and the function was becoming more colourful with every passing year.
``The films are selected by the members. Initially, we used to consider only those films that were released in theatres. Later, we decided to follow the Government pattern and started considering all censored films. The response was so encouraging as it gave an opportunity for all directors and artistes whose films were not released to contest for the award,'' says Baby.
The aspirants have to remit an entry fee of Rs. 500 and the screening charge for contest for the award. The association had organised a festival from January 21 to 28 to select films for last year's award. Though Baby claims that the association had a very meticulous selection process, there have been allegations about the way the winners are being selected.
``When the association invites entries, all those send films will be aspiring for the award and after the announcement, friends turn foes. The losers will start spewing venom, spreading rumours that the winners had greased my palms for getting the honour. I am ready to publish the list of winners. If anyone dares to declare publicly that he had bribed me for the award, I am ready to face the consequences,'' he says.
Quite a number of times, the pattern of critics' award were repeated in the State and national awards. "Had we been taking bribes, do you think that the artistes will reckon it as a prestigious honour and turn up regularly for our function," asks Baby.
If the award winner fails to turn up for the function, the association does not deliver the award at his residence. Once Mammootty could not attend the function and later it was presented at a function got up to release the book `Irulparappile Indraneelima' written by V.A. Sivadas.
There were also doubts about the way the association had been presenting special awards.
"When two artistes secure equal marks at the final round, we cannot afford to defy one of them and hence we give a special award,'' he says.
Other than the award, the association used to organise open houses on cinema on the first Friday of every month for 15 years from 1986. This was stopped later due to poor participation, he says.
Now, the association is getting ready to organise the Silver Jubilee celebrations in the capital from April 25 to May 19 in the city. There will be a retrospective of the films that have won the critics award, seminars and cultural programmes. The film and TV awards for 2001 will also be presented. Baby is confident that the association will go in the same tenor in the coming years too.
By N.J. Nair
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