Does Filmfare tend to favour star kids for the Best Debut awards?

Siddhant Chaturvedi is good enough to win Best Supporting Actor award but loses Best Male Debut award to Bhagyashree’s son Abhimanyu Dassani. Ananya Panday not the lone ‘insider’ nominated for Best Female Debut at 65 Filmfare Awards.

By Mayur Lookhar

Ishaan Khatter (l), Sara Ali Khan, Ananya Panday (r)

It’s been over 48 hours since the curtain came down on the 65 Filmfare Awards that was held in Guwahati, Assam. But there is no end to the #BoycottFilmfareAwards. Filmfare’s decision to give a dozen awards to Zoya Akhtar’s Gully Boy [2019] has raised brows. Lyric writer Manoj Muntashir had expressed his disappointment over the snub to his patriotic track Teri Mitti from Kesari [2019]. The joke is now that with Amazon being the main sponsor, most awards were given out to artistes whose films streamed on Amazon Prime Video.

Siddhant Chaturvedi

Well, that can only be speculative but for us we are still baffled by a few other things. Now Gully Boy [2019] won a record 13 honours but a couple of things surprised us. No, it is not that Siddhant Chaturvedi and Amruta Subhash weren’t worthy of the Best Supporting Actor male and supporting actress awards, respectively. But if Chaturvedi is good enough to win the Best Supporting Actor award, then why didn’t he bag the Best Male Debut? He lost that to 90s actress Bhagyashree’s son Abhimanyu Dassani,

Now had the Filmfare jury not picked Chaturvedi in the Best Male Debut category and then given to Dassani, it sure would have worked fine. But giving someone the Best Supporting Actor award when that was his debut performance and not giving him the Best Male Debut just doesn’t make any sense. Poor Chaturvedi must be thinking what wrong did he do that he was good enough to win Best Supporting Actor’s award but not the Best Male Debut? After all, he beat favourite Vijay Varma [also Gully Boy], experienced actors like Manoj Pahwa, Gulshan Devaiah for Best Supporting Actor’s award, but he wasn’t good enough to win the Best Male Debut honor. Wouldn’t the jury had saved themselves the embarrassment by simply giving both the awards to Chaturvedi?

Well, perhaps, Chaturvedi doesn’t come from a filmi back ground. We are not questioning Dassani’s credentials. He was impressive in his first film Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota [2019].

Source: Ananya Panday facebook

Chunky Pandey’s daughter Ananya Panday picked the Best Female Debut award for Student of the Year 2 [2019] which was both a commercial and a critical failure. Panday had a second film in Pati Patni Aur Woh in 2019, but perhaps a second film doesn’t count as debut. Make no bones about it, like Dassani, Panday, too, has great potential but you do question, does Filmfare favour the ‘insiders’ for such awards?

This year, at least, we had nominees for the Best Male, Best Female Debut categories. In the male category, we had Dassani for Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota, son of Bhagyashree. Then Meezan Jaffery, son of seasoned actor Jaaved Jaaferi, whose Malaal [2019] was a disaster. Amrish Puri’s grandson Vardhan too made a forgetful debut with Yeh Saali Aashiqui. And there was Zaheer Iqbal, whose family is said to have close ties with producer Salman Khan and his family. Chaturvedi and Vishal Jethwa of Mardaani 2 [2019] were the lone outsiders in the list. Both Gully Boy and Mardaani 2 did well at the box office. Both Chaturvedi and Jethwa earned acclaim too but the award goes to an ‘insider’. Thankfully, it went to the deserving Dassani and not Jaffrey or Puri.

Tara Sutaria in Student of the Year 2 [2019]

In the female category, Ananya Panday faced competition from Mohnish Bahl’s daughter Pranutan, who earned respect for her show in Salman Khan Films’ Notebook. Panday competed with her Student of the Year 2 colleague Tara Sutaria, who was said to be the weak link of the film. There was Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s niece Sharmin Segal who got nominated for Malaal and actor, director Mahesh Manjrekar’s daughter Saiee got nominated for Dabangg 3. Yeh Saali Aashiqui’s Shivaleeka Oberoi’s grandfather Mahavir was a little known producer. Shivaleeka had worked as an assistant director in Sajid Nadiadwala’s Kick [2014] and Housefull 3 [2016].

Geetika Vidya Ohlyan in Soni [2019]

Well, it begs the question, was there no good outsider who made her debut in Bollywood in 2019? Or only the star kids got their opportunities. There was Geetika Vidya Ohlyan and Saloni Batra in Soni [2019]. But that was a Netflix film. No non theatrical releases got any nomination.

In 2018, Shahid Kapoor’s half brother rightly won for Beyond the Clouds and Dhadak. We didn’t find any other male nominees. Saif Ali Khan’s daughter Sara Ali Khan had won for Kedarnath [2018]. Sridevi’s daughter Janhvi was nominated for Dhadak. In 2018, we had three outsiders making their Bollywood debut in Radhika Madan for Pataakha, Banita Sandhu for October and TV actress Mouni Roy for Reema Kagti’s Gold.

Now if one looks at the history of the Filmfare Debut Awards, there have been quite a few winners among star kids. This particular award started in 1989 when director, producer Tahir Hussain’s son Aamir Khan picked the honour for Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak [1989]. Aamir’s colleague Juhi Chawla, an outsider, won in the best female category.

Out of the 30 female winners, 19 were outsiders. Among the men, out of the 27 winners. only five outsiders won. Perhaps the outsider women are getting their due but based on numbers it wouldn’t be right to say that outsider males are not getting their chances. Can anyone dispute that the likes of Hrithik Roshan, Ranbir Kapoor, Aamir Khan, Salman Khan didn’t deserve their awards? Yes, the likes of Tusshar Kapoor, Bobby Deol are dubious choices, but those were different days, where not many outsiders got a look in, What one can question is that why should a star kid get an award if his/her film is both a commercial and critical failure? An actor can shine in a poor script too but questions will be raised if a star kid is favoured over an outsider, whose film may have failed too, but s/he showed more promise than the starkid.

In 2012, Karan Johar had launched Alia Bhatt, Varun Dhawan in Student of the Year. Often Johar has copped criticism for allegedly favouring star kids. But in the awarding year 2013, none of his students won the Best Debut award. It were outsiders Ayushmann Khurrana who won it for Vicky Donor [2012], while Ileana D’Cruz [2012] won it for Barfi.

Nepotism is a never ending debate. While it would be unfair to accuse Filmfare of bias, but given the sharp scrutiny in digital age, award organizers, jury, and even the voting fans must note that only the deserving candidates should win. Any dubious decision only questions your credibility.


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