We will never hear Meryl Streep’s mantra at a Bollywood show

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Meryl Streep’s magnificent ‘three second speech’ at the Golden Globes’ Awards on Sunday evening, proved all over again if proof were indeed needed, that there’s no one as powerful as a celebrity when it comes to putting the word out there.Award functions, especially those that have a million eyeballs trained on them, are a manna for designers and jewelers and those who make 8-inch killer heels: what Emma Stone, who won a Globe for `la-la’-landing so very prettily, wears today, you and I can potentially wear tomorrow. Or knock-offs thereof. However, they are also a great platform to broadcast contentious stuff straight to viewers, without any mediation or spin. When Streep spoke of how she has ‘lost her voice’ but managed to communicate with complete clarity the devastation absolute power minus empathy can cause, there were several teary eyes in that room full of glittering, beautiful people. And amongst those on the other side of the screen too.

She didn’t name him, but we knew she was speaking of the next President of the United States and how he behaved with a reporter with a disability. In one stroke, Streep gathered together the people who are under attack today – those who still dare speak truth to power — and pointed out that if the most powerful demean them, then the signal goes out that is okay for other people to do the same.

This is not the first time a Hollywood celebrity has called out those who consider themselves above reproach. And it’s sheer global impact leaves you wondering if there will ever be a time when a Bollywood personality will be able to use an awards stage to do a similar thing.

Our awards shows, practically indistinguishable from each other, are stuffed with back-to-back item numbers, interspersed with jokey patter from A-list stars who turn emcee for the evening.

It is nobody’s case that award shows should necessarily be intellectual or full of professorial comments: they are a celebration of cinema, and our cinema is full of song and dance and colour, so clearly all of that will be reflected on stage.

Bollywood award shows are geared towards a heavily-sponsored TV broadcast, a few weeks after the actual event, and a fickle TV audience with little patience will drift away from your show in no time at all unless you keep everything at an IQ level as low as comedy night shows. But is a modicum of taste too much to ask? Does it all have to be utter drivel?

I fear this may be the only kind of film award show we can get, given that the numbers — the gold spot for all advertisers and media buyers-and sellers — are delivered only with crassness. If that is that kind of platform, the content will have to match.

Also, these days, discretion is the best part of valour. Bollywood celebrities who are slammed at every turn by armies of foul-mouthed entitled loonies, find it hard enough to speak their mind, if they have something coherent and valid to say; to suddenly display even the slightest intelligence could work against them.

And to stand up to be counted as Streep did at such a high profile public event, an impossibility.

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