Beneath the Glitter – Part 2

The Shoes of Sherlock Holmes…

Let’s play detective.  We are at a crime scene.  There is a mystery to solve.  It demands the power of our analytical mind.  Where do we begin?  What would Sherlock Holmes do?   Would he start with the glittering evidence?  No.  Mr. Holmes will begin by peeking ‘beneath the glitter’, down to the basics.  His first question would be – ‘who is the victim?’  Next, he will try to capture the essence of ‘what happened?’  The third step would be enacting the crime scene – ‘how did it happen?’ That’s it, the world’s best investigator unplugged in three easy sequential steps of ‘who, what, & how’!  There is only one commenter who has specifically emphasized on the starting “who” part, so let’s pick up Shripad’s cue and then watch where Mr. Holmes theories lead us to…

Who are they?

Oscars: Not-for-profit association of more than six thousand members nominated by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.  The only reward for the academy members is the satisfaction of their vote being counted and broadcast across the planet.  The absence of monetary stress has ensured that it remains an ‘awards function’ under the camouflage of a show.   

Filmfare: For-profit business operated by the media giant – The Times Group.  All its cousins are also owned by powerful media houses.  The charter of Filmfare is to create wealth for its shareholders, the awards being just another business vertical.  This business compulsion requires the event to be a ‘show’ under the pretense of an awards function.

What they make?

Oscars: The raw material in academy awards is the inexpensive Oscars Statuette. Camera captures the process of this raw material being polished by the nominees until it ends up in the hands of the awardee.  To make the logistics seamless, all the nominees sit in the front rows of the audience.  In fact, no matter how big a ‘star’ you are, if you are not a nominee—you are not invited.  All the cast members of each entry sit together in a symbolic support through the evening’s laughter and tears.

Filmfare:  There is no raw-material processing; instead, this business is about the higher-margin trading of the finished product—just like a jeweler’s shop where expensive showpieces are displayed to buyers under spot lights.  The star’s row number in the audience is directly proportional to the size of the aura radiated over the years.  With the battalion of stars of varied aura sizes to be accommodated, the new aspirants find it difficult to find a ‘nominee chair’ or just get hidden back in the star shadows.

How they sell?

Oscars:  Since ‘sales’ is not the event’s charter, the sales promotions are fewer on stage. In fact, the lone salesman is the compere of the show.  The show moves from award-to-award— ‘compere-presenter-awardee’—in a cyclical fashion.  There is only a skeleton introduction of presenters, who also stick to the prescribed script.  Each awardee needs to deliver the speech within stipulated time. This predictable approach allows the show to be telecast ‘live’ to the audience without the need of editing.  The outcome itself, however, is unpredictable.  For instance, the recent Academy awards saw different winners in all the four main categories: Best ‘Actor’, ‘Actress’, ‘Director’, & ‘Movie’!

Filmfare:  A show without lights-camera-action on the stage is incomplete.  Fortunately, Filmfare has plenty of sales volunteers.  Some may even view the event as a sales conference with the top stalwarts being rewarded twice—once by performing on stage, the second time by receiving the award.  There is a lot of dancing, singing, comedy, and drama with an unmoderated lease to the star performers. The show is about the journey, not the destination.  Since the grand finale is devoid of suspense, there is no need to undertake the risk of broadcasting it ‘live’.  For instance, the last awards function saw three of the top four categories (Actor, Director, Movie) go to Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (tragically for the makers, the script didn’t allow for a powerful female character)!

The Uncrypting:  The investigation is over.  The pieces of the puzzle are laid out in front of us.  A simple assembly should reveal the secret.  But that sounds very boring.  Where is the fun of tackling a mystery that is devoid of complexities?   A good mystery needs a twist.  For, the primary ingredient of a good puzzle is – what appears obvious is not as obvious!  And what is the most obvious observation in the above narration?  That the two businesses are quite different!  Although both are immensely popular within their target segment, Oscars approaches it socially, whereas Filmfare approaches it commercially.  But astonishingly, here is the twist—Oscars is way ahead in terms of wealth generation; while Filmfare seems to have a higher emotional connect!   The cost of a single 30-second ad during last season of Oscars was a jaw-dropping USD 1.8 million!  On the other hand, the bright professionals following this blog—who perhaps might be following both the awards— seem to have better emotional connect with Filmfare (as evident from the poll results )!

So what does that teach us about business?  Lesson 1: A business doesn’t need to chase money to succeed.  Instead, like Oscars, if it stays focused on the core reason for its existence, the wealth generation will automatically follow (analogically, same as the conclusion of ‘The Hunt’ series where the identical lesson was applied to an individual instead of a corporate).   Lesson 2:  On the flip side, Filmfare’s better success at emotional connect validates that just because a business may be ruthlessly chasing wealth creation, it does not necessarily mean it doesn’t care and has lost its emotional connect with the targeted audience.

Googly: The above twin-lessons have their stand-alone credibility. But, unfortunately, they still don’t measure up to Sherlock Holmes’ mystery standards!  You see, Mr. Holmes’ mysteries always come with a final googly just when you are ready to wrap up the case!  All the ‘who, what, & how’ questions only lay the plotthey don’t actually solve the mystery.  We have overlooked an all-important missing ‘why’ herethe motive of the murderer!!!

Why Filmfare awards are the way they are?  I am sure that the organizers are smart professionals.  In today’s competitive world, if they believe going the Oscars way can generate more wealth in the long run, why are none of the award organizers trying it?  The answer obviously is that the Indian masses are not ready to accept the Oscars way of presenting awards.  Which, in turn, leads to the next ‘why’ question: why are the Indian masses not ready for it?  Perhaps the right answer to this question may carry a key to unlock the eluding business lesson and the dining doors of the Aroma house.  For the records, our dining table has a seating capacity of ten … after accounting for four residents and two close-enough winners, we still have four empty slots…

Original, Disparity, Luck, Style


  1. Okay let’s see how deep this rabbit hole goes..

    What is real? Anything that you can feel, see, smell and taste? (Dialogue is better delivered in movie – The Matrix).

    Let us try and augment this – Can we imagine an average group of people who watch day in day out Indian movies to admire and watch story which follows a storyline very much targeted and no songs? ( about Schindler’s List) Why? Plain and simple answer is – Right from start, our movies have been selling fantasies for Indian masses which identify with fantasy, mix bag of drama, action, comedy, romance, songs with a variation and storyline which varies and changes proportions of this ingredients to create a new feel no matter for how short duration it will last…

    Filmfare awards – Our award distribution ceremonies follow quite the same lifecycle like movies in Indian cinema context in terms of concept and storyline, it has a flying start in terms of performances and less key awards and till the end of trail it’s bigger awards (best actor/actress/movie) which is to builds the excitement of a climax. Complete masala.. which we identify with because we celebrate for product similar to it..

    Hollywood awards – Hollywood awards on the other hand celebrate the sheer achievement of being the best because it’s the very product i.e. Hollywood movies which focused on the storyline which evolves from life of someone, a book or a story never told before and are different between each one of them, method of delivery and ability to make us believe that the actor is indeed Jack Sparrow (and not Johnny Depp) or Godfather (and not Marlon Brando or Al Pacino) for our lives which evaluates every contribution from everyone..

    The focus is never the money part which shall follow from various pockets such as TV Ads, Home videos, etc. which will automatically follow subject to condition – if the movie is worth it.

    Now if the product for which it’s being celebrated is so focused one, the format of award also has to be like that itself – Celebrate and reward the best performances as they have earned it!

  2. Great words and an amazing approach to the Question, hats off to you again..

    Going to the Question “why are the Indian masses not ready for it? [Oscars]” , first I would like to lay down some definitions.

    1. What is an Award for — To commemorate the best in the field
    2. Who decides who is the best — Qualified and experienced persons to Judge
    4. For whom it is been decided —- For the category of the profession

    And then it is projected to the masses for let them know.

    Filmfare :

    1. What is an Award for — It is for the Best commercially successful show
    2. Who decides who is the best — The commercial returns one generated for the investors is the best
    3. For whom it is been decided — For the people who made it commercially successful

    And then it is projected to the masses for let them know, which is one more way of gaining commercial
    momentum for future.

    So why are we not ready for the real deal.. For the basic definition of award.[Oscars]

    Here the customer [The Audience] is in full control of the show , since they and they only made it successful
    , they have little hesitation in accepting who won the award . The Filmfare is in its phase of delivering to the
    customer [The Audience]. While the Oscars are now setting a bench mark for the customers to crave for. [The Viewer ship
    of Oscar movies goes high after the awards].

    Why we are not ready for it , because we still are in customer phase in entertainment. And there is none (no brand )which has passed the mark for being
    A product for us.

    Like Service [Filmfare] – Product[Oscar]

    Business lesson for me “You got to understand your customer and deliver what he wants, keeping
    your goal at sight. once you have that achieved, you can start setting bench marks, which the customer
    surely crave for, hence you will do great.

    Why there are less investors for awards like Oscars because, risking in product is not always result in success.

    • Good one too

  3. In a country where majority of the population is constantly battling for the improving the ‘Quality of life’, selling a dream is easier; so influence an Indian by emotions than by logic. Indians love to celebrate life in color and live it large, thus the Filmfare is a successful model in India.
    In the circle of life eventually the west will agree to the emotional connect value of the Filmfare format and we will agree to see value of having credible awards for Bollywood. Need is for a paradigm shift!

  4. I would like to map it with Maslow’s hierarchy of the needs. It actually affects the mindset of the audience.

    Physiological -> Safety -> Love Belonging -> Esteem -> Self- Actualization

    As per basic human mentality, a person will always desire for the next level in hierarchy and can finds himself attached with the factor which helps to fantasy about next level.
    The major chunk of audience of Filmfare is from 2nd or 3rd level of Maslow’s hierarchy. The masala movies take them on ride to 3rd and 4th level respectively.
    Whereas the Oscar’s target audience is from layer 5 and enjoys their ‘Self-actualization’ state of mind. The Oscar participant movies provide journey to the uncovered terrains of Self-actualization.
    The audience from level 2 and level 3 finds themselves disconnected with the movies from Oscar.

  5. Oh the Glamour! The Star power! The Western culture! The Western everything! Don’t we all love what the westerners do?
    But what is it about west that is better? We live in the age of information where we know everything that is happening around the globe. And so our choices as to what to watch, like, follow, etc. is countless and of course we pick what pleases us and majorly the superior stuff or stuff we relate to and stuff that make us think beyond boundaries and systems.
    Wouldn’t it be nice to have one religion to follow, one God to pray, one language of communication, one entertainment industry so everybody gets the same quality of everything!
    We will probably loose individualism in such a process! (just a thought after watching the movie – Lego)
    But as a famous musician once said – “there is no such thing as individualism. We are just a collection of each other’s influence on each other”

    Why Flimfare is the way it is? Why it doesn’t go the Oscar way? Why Indian masses won’t be acceptable of Oscar style awards?
    Bollywood makes and sells movies considering what masses want, what majority thinks is entertaining for them. For Bollywood Customer is king. Filmfare celebrated the mainstream cinema and bestows awards upon those who did good business with the goal of customer satisfaction.
    It happens in west too. Mainstream is celebrated in Mtv awards.
    Is it that west does not like mainstream? How to explain massive fan following for Twilight, Harry Potter, Bond series – All with no Oscars!
    Still Oscars celebrate ART of film making and story-telling. It doesn’t matter what the viewership was or acceptance of the story by the masses was.
    As I explained before we live in the age of information. In India, information comes at a price not affordable and acceptable by majority of the population. So the reach of Hollywood movies for many is still far away. They have come to know, learn and enjoy Bollywood style of film making. What Filmfare does is celebrate all such movies that were loved by public or at least nominate, have dance routines by the actors of the songs of those movies.
    Filmfare cannot go the Oscar way and nominate movies by the art of filmmaking and story-telling without mainstream success. Because these will be the movies not known to majority and even after nomination probably would not watch them thinking they are less in value of entertainment. Change is hard for many. Also for having ability to learn from and appreciate such movies, it takes some amount of open mindedness and absorption of true information, which again is not available to majority of the Indian audience in the name of “ignorance”, “love for our own culture only”, “this is India”.
    Filmfare will never want to take the risk of promoting, nominating and awarding movies that were not seen and accepted by the public as its business comes from pleasing the customers.
    Even for Filmfare, like Bollywood, customer is still the king.

  6. I want to provide a suggestion as a solution-
    Since we want FilmFare (and it’s Cousins) to be like Hollywood awards, lets introduce a category (similar to Critics Award) as- ‘Best Movie in Hollywood style’

    And Yes, when Hollywood/Oscar awards were started, they were not meant for minting money (being a Non-Profit). It started raining because of the increasing viewership. (WhatsApp and Google people never knew, one day they will grow so much) .

    We could visualize other obvious dissimilarities between Oscar where -The whole movie team gets the invitation in contrast to FilmFare (and it’s cousins) where even a nominated person like Madhu (phool aur kaante) was repenting for not getting the invitation card for some prestigious awards like Zee Cine, etc. (forget about the people who toils behind the screen)…However, its hard to find any Business lesson from these differences.

    Finally, because our goal is to extract a Business lesson – (so, let me try)-
    If you have won and continue to enjoy the loyalty of your Customers/Viewers-
    You are already there in the Business (Wikipedia is a non-profit organization)

  7. I will keep it very simple. The connect between Bollywood and Filmfare is much higher as compared to Oscars. Our audience can establish the connect and enjoy the masala both in movies and award functions like Filmfare.

  8. Indian mass are 95% made of surroundings family values where they are more concerned with all those emotional feelings, Indians are tend to find emotional and family connect every where that’s in our blood and so they can’t digest a simple show.

  9. Answer is about basics of any business,
    ‘Serve what your customer wants’.

    Oscars winning/nominated films are mostly depicts realistic world and very less space for emotions. One needs to be intelligent to understand the emotions not displayed on celluloid. Oscars does not motivate movies like unrealistic actions/dramas/fun movies e.g. Spiderman, X-Men series etc. Such movies are only considered if well-crafted. Movies like Gravity, Dallas Buyer Club are the example of the selection.

    Comparing this with FilmFare winning/nominated films. FilmFare nominated movies are mostly about family dramas and unrealistic extravaganzas.

    There are some Bollywood movies ex. Saransh, Maqbool and recently Shahid. These movies are acclaimed by the critics. But Indian masses are not interested in watching realistic depiction of the world around them.

    Indian mass have their own preference of liking and many of them do not care about the storyline or the performance. We would like to be entertained in 2.5-3 hrs after spending 500 bucks.
    Return On Money is the crux.

    Now a days, art cinema is also making money due to multiplex culture which is a good sign. But overall Indian viewers and producers would take time to change the perception and same would be reflected in the award ceremonies.

  10. We have National awards for the people who wants serious jobs and Filmfare for the people who wants fun and entertainment.

    Filmfare may not be value add, but business to me is sell what public demand and be aware / keep pushing one’s value adds.

  11. I think Indians are driven more by emotions. We accept emotions over statistical data or figures. If a person has data to prove a popular “fact” wrong, chances are we would still not accept the data and let our heart rule our head.
    These shows get the audience to vote for their favourite actor, singer, movie and other categories. The audience is “involved” in the success of the actors and the movies. That’s the emotional connect.
    Oscars do not have an emotional connect because the jury chooses the winner, not the audience. And I guess Filmfare knows too well that it is good business sense to get a golden egg a day than to kill the goose.
    It’s amusing to note that Filmfare also has a category of awards which are chosen by a jury. This part however is completed soon after the show starts.

  12. Indian masses are emotional, social so remain diehard fans of specific people, subjects…. Because of this, they may not accept awards going to people, subjects which they are no connected with (This may happen if awards are presented in Oscars style).
    So Filmfare or other Bollywood awards are managed, arranged in such a way that masses remain happy by connecting to their emotions, likings. By this they can increase their viewership and profits…

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Beneath the Glitter – Part 2 - Arun Nathani Blog