FilmFare Awards: I Resent Writing This Post Because This Award is Just a Popularity Contest and Doesn’t Matter, But Fine, Here You Go

Akshat in a comment just reminded me to talk about FilmFare awards, and said there is some kind of controversy this year, which blech. Get ready for Margaret to be very bitter and angry about people who get upset about stuff that doesn’t matter. But only after first laying out why it doesn’t matter and my own lukewarm opinions.

Let me start with the Oscars controversies and why they DO matter. It’s about representation. If you see a Black person up on stage, or a film with a diverse cast recognized, or a film about women, or a female director, it tells the people watching that they matter, they are seen, and they should be respected. And it tells other people watching that they need to take off their blinders and recognize the world they are living in, where there are people of color, and women in executive positions, and everything else. There’s also a marked box office bump given to movies based on Oscar recognition. If a movie with people of color as the leads gets nominated, suddenly it is moved out of the “Black film” ghetto and into mainstream theaters where people can enjoy it. And that box office bump translates to studios being willing to give backing to the next film from that director, or that star.

Now, what’s different about the FilmFare Awards? The biggest difference is that the movies aren’t playing in theaters any more. Whether or not they are nominated, makes no difference to the box office figures because that is done and dusted. Which also means there is no long term benefit to an award in terms of proving career viability. The other difference is that India does not have the same representation issues as America. Women in a powerful position, sure, there is some overlap there. But OscarsSoWhite is about the erasure of Black faces from American popular culture, and that is something that is only in America.

Image result for moonlight oscar win

So when I look at the FilmFare Awards, I truly just DO NOT CARE. I don’t even want to write this post. This is Margaret writing about something she doesn’t think deserves blog space just to serve her readers, which is why I am a wee bit cranky.

The most important interesting thing that can come out of the FilmFares is something like an actress publicly acknowledging her boyfriend, or a skit that gently twits at gender norms. No matter who wins, it has no real effect on the functioning of the industry (box office doesn’t change). And no matter who wins, it does not have that primal basic importance of seeing a minority face up there giving a speech at the American Oscars.

The FilmFare Awards aren’t the moment when you “win”, they are the confirmation that you have already won. They are set up to recognize the movers and shakers in the industry, winning or losing is a mark of power, not talent. And that has always been the case. It’s an Awards show sponsored by a fan magazine! The public votes, and a committee of experts gets involved too, it is all very fuzzy, and there are these random categories that are added and dropped year by year based on needing an excuse to give an award to someone.

If you are watching the FilmFares to see who is who in the industry, pay attention to who gets the longest live performances, the most reaction shots from the crowd, and those will usually be the people who also win the awards. It’s a popularity contest, that is actually clearly stated what it is. And to balance the popularity, there are the “Critic’s Awards” that recognize something a little less popular.

I’m looking at this years list and I am blanking on what could possibly be controversial. You can tell me in the comments, but get ready for my reaction to be “that’s dumb”. I looked at every list of nominees, and the movie that was chosen, is what I would expect to be chosen for that particular category. Except for stuff like “Best Actor Critics” and “Best Screenplay” which I can’t imagine other people care about enough to make it controversial.

Best Film:


Gully Boy: Well, between this list, what else could you choose? Mission Mangal was trash, Uri I haven’t seen but I can’t imagine it had the depth of Gully Boy just because it covered a limited scope and didn’t have such a stacked cast and amazing soundtrack, Chhichhore was pleasant but hardly genius, and War was a great popcorn movie but not an award winner

Mission Mangal

Uri: The Surgical Strike


Best Director

Zoya Akhtar: Gully Boy: Once again, looking at this list, is there any other choice? Gully Boy had brilliant direction, at a whole other level from these other films. Again, I haven’t seen Uri, it may have been as good but I can’t imagine it was better.

Siddharth Anand: War

Aditya Dhar: Uri

Jagan Shakti: Mission Mangal

Nitesh Tiwari: Chhichhore

Best Actor

Shahid Kapoor: Kabir Singh

Vicky Kaushaul: Uri

Ayushmann Khurrana: Bala

Akshay Kumar: Kesari

Hrithik Roshan: Super 30

Ranveer Singh: Gully Boy: I think maybe Shahid’s performance in Kabir Singh was a hair better, but it’s close. Certainly Hrithik in Super 30 isn’t anywhere near. I can’t imagine, just based on the light plot, that Ayushmann in Bala did anything remarkable. Ditto Akshay and Vicky in war films.

Best Actress

Alia Bhatt: Gully Boy: This is really just a referendum on roles for women. Of this list, Kareena probably gave the best performance, but her script was weak. Vidya and Rani gave as good as they could but in limited roles. Kangana shot herself in the foot by killing her script. So we are left with Alia, as the only one who had a full character arche with lots of juicy scenes. But if Katrina had been nominated, she could have given her a run for her money.

Vidya Balan: Mission Mangal

Priyanka Chopra Jonas: The Sky is Pink

Kareena Kapoor Khan: Good Newwz

Rani Mukherji: Mardaani 2

Kangana Ranaut: Manikarnika

Best Supporting Actor

Siddhant Chaturvedi: Gully Boy Well, YEAH! Vijay and Gulshan and Manoj can fight it out for second place, but Siddhant was on a whole other level. In fact, my only complaint with this category is that he really belongs in the “Best Debut” area, that is how firmly he stole the movie from the lead

Gulshan Deviah: Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota

Diljit Dosanjh: Good Newwz

Manoj Pehwa: Article 15

Ranvir Shorey: Sonchariya

Vijay Verma: Gully Boy

Best Supporting Actress: I just don’t like this category’s existence. Indian film is structured around the hero, sometimes a heroine, and the hero’s best friend, the likelihood of a strong supporting actress in the film is pretty low. I’d rather break it down as “Actress in a Lead Role” versus “Actress in a Supporting Role”, put Kangana and Rani Mukherjee by themselves as the only Leading Role nominees, and put the others from the Actress category down here in “supporting role”.

Madhuri Dixit: Kalank

Kamini Kaushal: Kabir Singh

Seema Pahwa: Bala

Amrita Singh: Badla

Amruta Subhash: Gully Boy: I actually disagree with this, but it is because my favorites weren’t nominated. Sonakshi should have won for Kalank and she isn’t even on the list. Katrina for Bharat ditto, if she’d been put in this category.

Zaira Wasim: The Sky is Pink

Best Male Debut Love this category!!! It is specific to the way Hindi film works, and it is a very important award to include, it confirms who truly made a mark this year

Siddhant Chaturvedi – Gully Boy as Shrikant Bhosle (MC Sher)

Abhimanyu Dassani – Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota as Surya Sampat: Okay, I have mild issues with this. I’ve only seen half these movies, but if you remember, I found Abhimanyu so bland I didn’t even bother remembering his name. I would have liked Siddhant to win this, but it is kind of weird that he is here and in the supporting actor category. If I don’t let him win because he already took Supporting, then I would happily vote for Zaheer from Notebook. He wasn’t great, but he was more interesting than Abhimanyu. I could also believe the ones I didn’t see were better too. Problem probably was that no one saw these movies, which says something about the issues with a film making an impact with a first time star more than anything. Which is why this award is important, telling people who to start watching.

Zaheer Iqbal – Notebook as Kabir Kaul

Meezaan Jaffrey – Malaal as Shiva More

Vishal Jethwa – Mardaani 2 as Shiv “Sunny” Prasad Yadav

Vardhan Puri – Yeh Saali Aashiqui as Sahil Mehra

Best Debut Female Again, I have issues with this awards existence. Most of the time there just isn’t anything for an actress to DO, especially in their first film. I would prefer to combine the Debut categories, only award people who actually lead the film in their first movie. And if it’s a balanced two lead film, they can both be nominated. But otherwise, don’t throw in the actresses who barely had a word of dialogue with the ones who got author backed roles. What this category is actually marking is just who had the biggest impact on camera, since in a debut part there isn’t a heck of a lot for an actress to do besides show up.

Pranutan Bahl – Notebook as Firdaus Quadri

Shivaleeka Oberoi – Yeh Saali Aashiqui as Mitee Deora

Saiee Manjrekar – Dabangg 3 as Khushi

Ananya Panday – Student of the Year 2 as Shreya Randhawa: I haven’t seen Malaal, or Yeh Saali Aashiqui. Pranutan was better than Ananya in Notebook, but Ananya was FOR SURE better than Tara or Saiee. And for on camera impact, she beat Pranutan by a smidge. I’m okay with her winning.

Sharmin Sehgal – Malaal as Astha Tripathi

Tara Sutaria – Student of the Year 2 as Mridula “Mia” Chawla

Best Debut Director Such an important category! I wish more awards included it. And especially this year, Zoya’s work was definitely the best all around, but she’s a frequent winner with an established career, it’s good that there is a second category to recognize achievements from newcomers.

Aditya Dhar – Uri: The Surgical Strike: Seems completely reasonable. I haven’t see Uri or Mardaani 2, or Saand Ki Aankh, but director is usually something you can make a guess on just based on trailer images. Uri was different looking right away, while Saand Ki Aankh and Mardaani felt familiar.

Tushar Hiranandani – Saand Ki Aankh

Raj Mehta – Good Newwz

Gopi Puthran – Mardaani 2

Jagan Shakti – Mission Mangal

Raaj Shaandilyaa – Dream Girl

Best Story I love that the writing awards break down like this! They are all different categories, and its great that they are each recognized

Zoya Akhtar, Reema Kagti – Gully Boy

Vasan Bala – Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota

Abhishek Chaubey, Sudip Sharma – Sonchiriya

Jagan Shakti – Mission Mangal

Anubhav Sinha, Gaurav Solanki – Article 15: Eh, I don’t agree with this. The basic story was clearly taken from news reports, and Mississippi Burning. Good movie, just shouldn’t win this particular award. I would have gone with Chhichhore I think, for a unique original story idea.

Nitesh Tiwari, Piyush Gupta and Nikhil Mehrotra – Chhichhore

Best Screenplay So the first award was for the initial story idea, this is for packaging and writing it down and turning it into something that can be filmed. Very different and equally important.

Zoya Akhtar, Reema Kagti – Gully Boy: It is a very very good screenplay, and complicated with the way it balances multiple characters and stories. The only one I might choose over it is one that wasn’t nominated, Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota.

Manish Gupta, Ajay Bahl – Section 375

Jagan Shakti, R Balki, Dharma, Nidhi Singh, Saket Kodiparthi – Mission Mangal

Balwinder Singh Janjua – Saand Ki Aankh

Sudip Sharma – Sonchiriya

Anubhav Sinha, Gaurav Solanki – Article 15

Best Dialogue: Finally, the poetry of it all. The person who takes the story that was turned into a screenplay, and adds on the actual words characters will say.

Niren Bhatt – Bala

Sanjeev Datta – Super 30

Vijay Maurya – Gully Boy: Again, my pick wasn’t even nominated. I would have gone for Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota again. Or maybe Dream Girl for all the clever puns. Of the ones listed, Gully Boy is good, Chhichhore is maybe equally good. I’m okay with this choice.

Sudip Sharma – Sonchiriya

Anubhav Sinha, Gaurav Solanki – Article 15

Nitesh Tiwari, Nikhil Mehrotra, Piyush Gupta – Chhichhore

Best Music Director (2 Winners): This usually means the person who created all the songs for the film, sometimes it means the person who supervised while other people created them.

Zoya Akhtar, Ankur Tewari – Gully Boy: Yep, seems totally right

Amaal Malik, Mithoon, Vishal Mishra, Sachet–Parampara, Akhil Sachdeva – Kabir Singh: This was probably the best traditional soundtrack of the year. Gully Boy was still clearly better, but if they wanted to balance a kind of radical different soundtrack with a standard one, this would be the second one to pick

Arko Pravo Mukherjee, Tanishk Bagchi, Jasbir Jassi, Chirantan Bhatt, Gurmoh, Jasleen Royal – Kesari

Pritam – Kalank

Vishal–Shekhar – Bharat

Best Lyricist

Tanishk Bagchi – “Ve Maahi” – Kesari

Amitabh Bhattacharya – “Kalank” – Kalank

Divine, Ankur Tewari – “Apna Time Aayega” – Gully Boy: Yep, no contest. All of the nominees are great, but this song is something else.

Irshad Kamil – “Bekhayali” – Kabir Singh

Mithoon – “Tujhe Kitna Chahne Lage Hum” – Kabir Singh

Manoj Muntashir – “Teri Mitti” – Kesari

Best Playback Singer Male

Nakash Aziz – “Slow Motion” – Bharat

B Praak – “Teri Mitti” – Kesari

Arijit Singh – “Kalank” – Kalank: Yep! Always Arijit. He should just compete against himself every year, he’s the only singer working now with that kind of training and control.

Arijit Singh – “Ve Maahi” – Kesari

Sachet Tandon – “Bekhayali” – Kabir Singh

Best Playback Singer Female

Neha Bhasin – “Chashni” – Bharat

Shreya Ghoshal – “Ye Aaina” – Kabir Singh

Shreya Ghoshal, Vaishali Mhade – “Ghar More Pardesiya” – Kalank

Sona Mohapatra, Jyotica Tangri – “Baby Gold” – Saand Ki Aankh

Shilpa Rao – “Ghungroo” – War: I have no opinion on this category. None of these songs really sent me this year, I would have been okay with Shreya winning for Kalank maybe but she’s got enough awards, she doesn’t need this.

Parampara Thakur – “Mere Sohneya” – Kabir Singh

Critics Award Best Film-Best Director (2 Winners) Interesting they combine them here. I guess the thinking is that critics are smart enough to handle the combo vote.

Article 15 – Anubhav Sinha: Vasant Bala should have won, but I’m thrilled to see Anubhav get recognition. He’s a decent director, but he has started taking on really risky topics. If we look at this award as encompassing all parts of directing, including the initial choice of project. Anubhav is good. Vasant Bala should have won, but Anubhav is a decent runner up.

Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota – Vasant Bala

Photograph – Ritesh Batra

The Sky Is Pink – Shonali Bose

Sonchiriya – Abhishek Chaubey: Again, Vasant Bala should have won. I haven’t seen Sonchiriya, but I know that again it was a risky topic, and it didn’t get the release it deserved. And Abhishek Chaubey has been around for a while (like Anubhav) and deserves this award for his career as a whole.

Best Actor Critics

Akshaye Khanna – Section 375 as Tarun Saluja

Ayushmann Khurrana – Article 15 as IPS Ayan Ranjan: Well, this was a fail of a category! The films/directors list was obscure stuff that was never going to get popular recognition. This list is all familiar names in mainstream films (excepting Photograph). Ayushmann was good in Article 15, but where’s Gulshan Deviah in Mard Ko Dard? Or Manoj Kumar in Sonchariya?

Rajkummar Rao – Judgementall Hai Kya as Keshav

Nawazuddin Siddiqui – Photograph as Rafiullah “Rafi”

Best Actress Critics (2 Winners) Remember me saying that “actress” should be limited to leading role? This time, it is! Only actresses who really were the leads. Good on you, Critics!

Radhika Madan – Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota as Supriya ‘Supri’

Sanya Malhotra – Photograph as Miloni Shah

Taapsee Pannu – Saand Ki Aankh as Prakashi Tomar Well, it’s a sweep for Saand Ki Aankh! I wish Katrina could have won, or at least been nominated, for SOMETHING. And I think Radhika gave an amazing performance in Mard Ko Dard, but she is at the start of her career, she has time to win again.

Bhumi Pednekar – Saand Ki Aankh as Chandro Tomar: Look at that, Bhumi was nominated twice! She is someone I was thinking about when I complained about the female debut category. She is one of the few actresses who was fully trained and ready before her debut, and got to give an actual lead performance with a good character. And now she is still giving those kinds of performances. I wish the awards were structured a bit better to reward debut actresses who came on fully trained with meaty roles, versus just who has the prettiest face.

Bhumi Pednekar – Sonchiriya as Indumati Tomar

Kangana Ranaut – Judgementall Hai Kya as Bobby

And that’s it for the awards! I literally have no idea what people might find upsetting or controversial, and I suspect whatever it is will make me roll my eyes. Who shall be the brave person to risk the exasperation of Margaret by revealing what Social Media has decided is important?

18 thoughts on “FilmFare Awards: I Resent Writing This Post Because This Award is Just a Popularity Contest and Doesn’t Matter, But Fine, Here You Go

  1. I’m just irrationally happy that Shilpa Rao won for Ghungroo! I have been listening to that a lot and her voice slays! So sexy! Surprising since Shreya was nominated twice, but not for my favorite song from Kalank, ‘Tabaah Ho Gaye’.


    • Oh that’s nice! The one category I didn’t have an opinion about, and now I can borrow your happy opinion.

      On Mon, Feb 17, 2020 at 2:51 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:



  2. The only one I have strong opinions about is Best Actor. I’m surprised you said Shahid was just a hair better than Ranveer. To me his performance was much more layered and powerful. Ranveer was good when he wasn’t rapping, but his character didn’t have the same kind of depth and substance overall. Not surprised they wouldn’t give Shahid an award for this kind of role though.


    • Ranveer’s performance has really grown on me over time. And maybe it’s because I already had such high expectations of Shahid so this performance didn’t surprise me as much?

      On Mon, Feb 17, 2020 at 7:19 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:



  3. There was a controversy over the best lyrics award. The lyricist for Teri Miti was upset that he lost and vowed to not attend the awards again…

    But there are two interesting questions – Why were the awards held in Guwahati (first time not in Bombay)? Given the recent protests in Assam, clearly this is some kind of tactical political move…I want to know how much money was paid to Filmfare was agreeing to do this especially since star attendance would have taken a hit…

    And second – the sponsor changed from to Jio to Amazon! Now that is interesting! Obv this is tactical for Amazon to boost the video division…but why did Jio let go? Are they not interested in movie biz anymore? Are they tight on cash? What is going on there?


    • The lyricist debate is DUMB! Of all the awards, that is the one that is unquestioningly absolutely correct. Whoever the Teri Mitti guy is, is an idiot. Speaking of Lyricists, did you know that in 2005 Javed Akhtar was the only nominee? Nominated for 5 different songs? I kind of love that! They nominated the best 5 songs, and it happened to be that they were all written by the same person. This year I would have been happy with a completely Gully Boy lyrics category.

      Jio versus Amazon, maybe it is purely name recognition? Jio is big enough now that they don’t have to shell out for the sponsorship money to be recognized, Amazon is willing to pay whatever it takes to get their name out there at the moment? Especially among people who care about movies?

      And on the flipside, maybe Jio wants Amazon to win. They are primarily about getting people to buy data, right? So long as someone somewhere is providing the thing you will be using your data for, Jio still wins. If Amazon gets big in India, suddenly all these people will want access to streaming for Amazon Prime stuff. Jio wins no matter what.

      On Mon, Feb 17, 2020 at 9:28 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:



  4. It seems the biggest controversy is that Filmfare is now sponsored by Amazon (name before the title, “Amazon Filmfare”), and Gully Boy, which is on Amazon Prime, swept the most filmfare awards for a single film in history, or at least in decades.

    TBH this would be a controversy if it happened stateside as well.

    OTOH Filmfare awards is widely accepted as being rigged to optimize for viewership, so what’s one more level of rigging?

    Cynically, IMO the controversy should be that the rigging is now in benefit of a Non-Indian company, person, or entity. One could see it as “the West” is now determining who wins India’s most popular film awards, whereas before at least the rigging was (or appeared to be) all “in house”.


    • Or, alternatively, Gully Boy was just the best film in a really really bad year for movies.

      Oh well, maybe if we get excited enough the Ambani’s will dig the change out of their couch cushions to sponsor again next year.

      On Tue, Feb 18, 2020 at 8:09 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:



      • Yes you can argue either case when a movie is really good like gully boy. It’s easier to detect the rigging if a very average film on Amazon swept the awards.

        It could be something in between. Guilty Boy was headed for a sweep anyways, so Amazon pushed or paid filmfare to push the award count over the edge into “the most awards ever”.


        • Or, since this is a popularity contest, Amazon cheated in the campaign. Made sure Gully Boy was pushed hard in online ads just as FilmFare started collecting ballots. The Oscar style graft, where it’s not technically cheating but somehow the film that campaigned the most always wins.

          On Tue, Feb 18, 2020 at 11:07 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:



  5. There were basically 4 major controversies.
    1.gully boy sweeping all the awards as it’s available on Amazon prime.
    Its as if other films weren’t existing only.
    Chhichore could have won dialogues/screenplay.
    Shahid for kabir singh
    Yami for supporting in bala etc.

    2. Alia winning best actress for a supporting role at best.
    Priyanka deserves it more.

    3. The lyrics issue.
    The writer thought he should have won and he is entitled to feel hard done.
    Bt the trolls took 1 sentence ‘tu nanga hi to aaya hai kya ghanta lekar jaayega.’
    Meaning you were born naked what will you take when u die.

    4.shilpa rao ghoongroo over shreya ghoshal and arijit over bekhayaali by sachet parampara.
    I can understand arijit bt other 1 was jst pandering to yrf.

    And finally ananya pandey for her various comments on her struggle.
    It started as memes and funny bt has now reached toxic levels


    • Thanks! I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who thought Shahid was excellent in Kabir Singh.

      I’m happy with Alia winning, she didn’t feel like a supporting role to me. That’s just my opinion, but it also means that someone not paid off by Amazon (or maybe I am, how do you know!) has that opinion.

      I don’t think the writer is entitled to feel hard done. That “entitled” doesn’t make sense to me. He can be sad that he didn’t win, and privately think he deserved the award, but making a fuss about it online seems way over the line to me.

      Seeing as the DCIB awards picked Ghoongroo as the favorite song of the year a month ago, seems like Ghungroo really was great. Anyway, FilmFare always panders to YRF.

      I don’t like the idea that someone’s personal behavior should be judged as part of their award win. I mean, then we are just getting into the same things people are complaining about, that this person or that person won because of a reason besides their performance. Ananya was the best female debutante of the year, no matter how irritating she may be in interviews.


  6. Frankly at this point most people in India don’t take these award shows seriously – not even the people who’d watch them on tv. Filmfare has been always for sale, both cash and kind. But now it has become more obvious. So many good movies and performances have been ignored over the years.

    But what I hate more than the obvious pandering that happens at Filmfare and all the other copycat award shows is the pandering that leads to a movie like Gully Boy being sent as the Indian entry to the Oscars. Look at Parasite and then look at Gully Boy. Like Americans are too stupid not to recognize the similarities to Eminem’s 8 mile. My pick would’ve been Aamis (Assamese) – that movie was completely insane, sometimes sickening yet sweet in this weird way. It has stayed in my mind like no movie ever had before. It’d certainly have shaken the Oscar voters, given how subversive it is. But of course, mainstream media barely took notice of it, no surprise given how regional cinema is consistently ignored in favor of hindi movies


    • I would have gone with Jallikattu myself, for similar reasons. Something shockingly different to shake things up.

      Of course the problem is that the foreign film has to first be selected by the Oscar nomination committee in America as well, and they like stuff that already has a buzz and a box office and stuff. India will never make it until someone gets serious about funding an intense Oscar campaign, no matter which film is selected (which is what Aamir did for Lagaan, but doesn’t seem interested in doing it again).

      On Wed, Feb 19, 2020 at 4:05 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:


      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, Jallikattu is another great movie. Like the South Koreans, India can mount a Oscar campaign. It’s not as if money is lacking. But first we’ll need to nominate a movie that is worth the effort. Gully Boy was never it.


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