You’re familiar with Bollywood award shows right? You may not remember ALL the names but you’ve caught glimpses when you switched on the TV I’m sure. In the name of entertainment, you’ve watched Shah Rukh Khan, Saif Ali Khan, Akshay Kumar, Ranbir Kapoor, Imran Khan and Sajid Khan each host different award shows. You’ve watched multiple performances of Kareena Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra and Anushka Sharma in different costumes on different channels. You’ve watched Hrithik Roshan, Aishwarya Rai and Shah Rukh Khan (again) accept trophies for their performances in ‘special categories’ at differing venues. There has been something consistent though: you had little or no involvement in the actual process of nomination and voting. Instead, you were subject to bad scripts and even worse edits of television shows. As stage shows, awards are fantastic but very few have the privilege of witnessing them live. Let’s admit it, since most of us aren’t stars, our chances of making it to the red carpet are next to minimal.
A bunch of people on twitter had all the above mentioned thoughts running through their head. A casual conversation turned into a handle and it was the birth of @twi_fi_awards. In one line, the Twi Fi Awards are ‘Of the Tweeple, For the Tweeple, By The Tweeple for the most deserving in Hindi Cinema 2010’.
The reason these awards are truly democratic is because all the processes are completely transparent. The first announcement was that of the jury comprising of film critics (27 of them with excellent credentials). The second one was to put together a tweeple jury. With the help of a twitter app, 30 Bollywood bloggers were voted for. The third was calling suggestions for categories, also a major point of discussion at tweet-ups. The fourth has been declaration of music and film nominations.
How does one go through these stages? The one who is at the helm of the tweeple film awards, Nikhil Taneja, explains: “Twitterati has MADE these awards. I’ve kept a feedback loop from them at all stages – right from the name of the award, which was given by Stuti Srivastava on twitter, to the display pic, to selecting a tweeple jury, to figuring out the categories – everything has been done with their support, advice and suggestions. We did have 6 tweetups across the country – Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Cochin and Kolkata where many things were discussed, right from the future of the awards to the categories, and all final decisions were arrived at after the majority’s say!”
Once categories had been decided, nomination forms had to be devised for jury members to fill out. Nikhil adds, “All credit for the ENTIRE technical support for the awards goes to one man only – Pavan Jha. He’s a critic with BBC India, a software engineer too and films are his passion. Everything, right from the website, to the voting page for tweeple jury, to the nomination forms and its tallying mechanism has been done by him! He does everything within 2-3 days.”
As organized as it was, it definitely wasn’t an easy job. Film critic and jury member Aniruddha Guha states, “What is most interesting to me is that the Tw Fi Awards promise to be more transparent than ceremonies where awards are given away on the basis of ‘popular’ votes. One never really knows where those votes came from. In this case, each jury member’s list of nominations will be revealed and open for scrutiny. The voting will be done on Twitter too – so it’s all out there. My only worry was that Twi Fis might end up being awards of the ‘underdogs’. It’s not about whether it’s an indie film or the year’s biggest blockbuster; a film should be nominated only if it deserves to be. I think to that extent they’ve done fine. Of course, some nominations are bound to raise eyebrows, but one can’t really escape that with everyone having so many differing views on films.”
Active Bollywood blogger and tweeple jury member Melissa Wright offers her opinion, “I relished making it to the jury for about a day and then started getting a bit nervous about being tasked with selecting nominees. What if everyone thought my film choices were horrible?! What if I didn’t have time to watch every 2010 film before nominations were due? In the end though I was pleased to have the chance to offer up what I thought were the best performances of the previous year (some of them sadly overlooked by mainstream awards functions). I spent three days working on the two forms (film and technical nominations). The technicals were easier, I thought. I still had a huge backlog of films to watch, so while I was able to think of two or three nominees for each category off the top of my head, the rest came to me over the course of the week. I think I watched 11 films in three days in order to round out my list of nominees!”
Sukhada Chaudhury, a twitter junkie who has been following the awards closely chips in, “Being a part of this initiative is very rewarding and not being on the jury does not matter to me. I am just happy the online community, which is fast becoming a substantial percentage of the Indian youth population, found a voice to express their true feeling about the year’s best in cinema. I was thrilled when I saw the nominations because I could not believe so many from my personal list matched those on the final!”
Now, for the good news, the nominations are out! And we still have a chance to contribute. They are running a poll as to whether the number of nominations in each category should be increased from five to six. Some deserving nominees were perhaps left out by a couple of votes. So, if you think the final list of nominees is falling short, enter the poll. Follow the twi fi blog for updates and don’t forget to cast your vote. The awards, are, after all democratic and everyone’s opinion matters.