By Meera
Oscar, No Thank You!, Leonardo Di Caprio, AR Rahman


Leonardo Di Caprio did not win an Oscar (yet again). He lost to Matthew McConaughey. But does that mean he is a lesser actor compared to Matthew, who hoisted the Oscar by shedding 20kgs? Many of us would disagree with that - yet why do we give so much weight to an award?

Granted, like a score card, this is a single most popular metric that would duly find its way into your eulogy. But apart from that, is winning an award an artist’s biggest high? What about enacting the performance worthy of an award? Isn’t that good enough? Ask our own Ulaga Nayagan Kamal who was recently conferred the Padma Bhushan and he claims that even if things arrive late in his life, he is grateful that they have arrived. Quiz him further and he proclaims that an award does not mean he is the best of all the actors but merely better than them in that particular film within that period of time.

Why do some people flock to the awards then? For the glamour? Or is it simply an excuse for a social gathering? Why do some shun it? For fear or because they think it is unworthy? Is it simply because they do not require this festive declaration that their portrayal is indeed worthy of recognition?

How can we truly think that awards give an artist the biggest credit when our own Nadigar Thilagam Shivaji Ganesan was conferred a national award only for Thevar Magan? What about Parasakthi and countless others that came after that. Did not winning an award derail or slacken his pace? Never! He only got better and better at his game until he reached the pinnacle where every actor aspires to be.

Marlin Brando, the godfather of Hollywood refused to collect his Oscar citing the portrayal of Native Americans in American movies. He was the second actor to refuse the award. And of course there is Woody Allen, the director who remains absent even when the crème de la crème of Hollywood gathers.

But awards are also a great way to publicize your talent. Our own treasured gems like AR Rahman and Resul Pookutty were welcomed more enthusiastically by the world after they won their Academy Awards. It was Satyajit Ray who turned the focus of the western world to the meritorious cinema we make in India. Mani Ratnam was able to fitfully cross the Vindhyas and break the language barrier even more deftly after winning national recognition for Roja.

Awards are a delight for an artist. The recognition their performance garners reassures their appetite for art itself. But as viewers we have to remember that awards are subjective. It's really almost impossible to judge art. We can never truly say that this performance or story is entirely better than the other. Every film and actor speaks to us in a language that is very different from the person sitting next. While conferring an award brings joy to the receiver, it still cannot be the finish line. As our own Kamal Sir says, “An award is not an honor for the work I’ve already done but it would be an impetus for me to do more good work. “ Because for an artist, the end is never near.

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