Did Filmfare think of suing Rishi Kapoor over his well-publicized cash-for-award claim?

As Filmfare braces itself for a potential legal tussle with Kangana Ranaut, we wonder why were they silent in 2017 when the late Rishi Kapoor admitted to buying an award for his maiden film Bobby [1973].

Screenshot of late Rishi Kapoor’s interview to NDTV in 2017 .

By Mayur Lookhar

Having traded early blows, it looks increasingly likely that Filmfare is bracing itself for a legal tussle with actor Kangana Ranaut. The Queen [2014] actress had made strong claims of the coveted magazine following unethical practices in doling out the popular Filmfare Awards, that honours the best of Hindi cinema in a year.

Kangana’s claim of Filmfare asking the actor to grace the ceremony or perform [dance] in order to get an award in 2013 has riled the media giant, who had cautioned Ranaut to desist from making such malicious claims.

While one awaits the next move from either of them, we were reminded about late Rishi Kapoor’s sensational disclosure in 2017. That year Kapoor had launched his biography Khullam Khulla: Rishi Kapoor Uncensored. The title was named after a popular song from his film Khel Khel Mein [1975]. 

Kapoor had first promoted his book on NDTV where he was interviewed by noted broadcast journalist Barkha Dutt in the presence of an audience. Dutt questioned Kapoor on the chapter related to his maiden film Bobby [1973] where the late actor confessed to buying his maiden Filmfare Award.  Kapoor, a rookie, was pitted against favourites Amitabh Bachchan for Zanjeer, Dharmendra for Yaadon Ki Baarat, Rajesh Khanna for Daag: A Prem of Love, and Sanjeev Kumar for Koshish. While Bobby was a resounding success, but Kapoor beating these superstars for the Best Actor award came like a bolt from the blue.

Kapoor openly admitted that he was offered the Best Actor award for a payment of Rs25,000.  During the interview, Kapoor didn’t mention the name of the particular award, but given that Filmfare was the only one to award him that year, there’s no scope for much guessing.

During the interview, Kapoor said that he was brash in doing so. The late actor even had the gumption to say that at least he deserved credit for being honest about it as not many actors would have braved to tell the truth.

Kapoor passed away in 2020 after a long battle with cancer. Now that Filmfare is threatening legal action against Kangana Ranaut, it begs the question what did it make of Kapoor’s sensational disclosure then? Was there ever any thought given on any legal action against the veteran actor in 2017?

We spoke to a source who was connected with the organization then.

“No, there was never any such communication because nobody [from the current lot] knew about it. It happened a long time ago in 1973. Nobody really knows what transpired then, who were the people at the helm that time,” said our source.

Though the most popular, the Filmfare Awards have also courted controversies over the years. One of the common criticisms against Filmfare is how it often gave the Best Debut awards to star kids since the inception of the particular category in 1989.

In the 90s, Filmfare usually awarded the commercially successful films. Super star Aamir Khan had lost faith in the popular awards long time ago, and continues to give these awards a miss. The likes of Ajay Devgn, Akshay Kumar, too, aren’t spotted much in these awards do. Often snubbed by popular awards, veteran actor Govinda has often joked how he never even contemplated on buying such awards.

In the digital age, Filmfare also gives weightage to fan voting, apart from the jury choice.

Veteran journalist Shekhar Gupta, now Founding Editor of The Print, had posted a comment piece a couple of years ago wherein he revealed about the tough time he had as the Editor of the Indian Express group that used to host the popular Screen Awards.

 Gupta had opened up about the 11th hour tantrums by producers, stars who demanded their film and its stars be awarded or they’ll give the ceremony a miss.  Gupta had raised fingers at the likes of producer Karan Johar, whose film My Name Is Khan [2010] won many popular awards then.  A year later, Gupta and his organizing team got heart pangs when the cast of Zoya Akhtar’s Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara allegedly decided to give the award a miss.

A year ago, Katrina Kaif threatened to do a volte face from her scheduled dance performance, unless if she was given an award too. Gupta and his team had to create one special award for Kaif.

In 2007, Hrithik Roshan had threatened to boycott the awards because his father wasn’t nominated for Best Director award.

Phew, when we look at the ongoing boycott of legacy studios, star kids, somewhere you feel that certain karma has come back to haunt Bollywood.  Commercial deals, sponsor, channel pressure has also made the task tough for jury members and the event organizers.

As Filmfare and Kangana Ranaut brace for a legal battle, the ordinary Indian fan will hope that more dirty secrets tumble out from this awards mess.


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