Sometimes, recognition and fame don't go hand in hand. There is hardly a movie star in India as famous as Salman Khan. But the awards elude him. Of course, most of his films don't have Salman giving a performance. He is just being…Salman in a majority of his roles. But he did snap out of his self absorption in Satish Kaushik's Tere Naam, Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Hum….Dil De Chuke Sanam and Kabir Khan's Bajrangi Bhaijaan. But they chose not to honour him.
Salman Khan isn't alone in the awards-snub. Dilip Kumar, who is considered by most cineastes the best actor Hindi cinema has ever produced, did not get a single National award for decades, not even for Ganga Jamuna or Devdas , considered textbooks of layered acting.
Rishi Kapoor, one of the finest actors of the post-Dilip Kumar generations, remained deprived of National and popular awards although he won the former at age 14 for Mera Naam Joker and his first and only Filmfare award at age 18 for Bobby. Thereafter, no recognition for his brilliant performances in Laila Majnu, Badalte Rishte, Doosra Aadmi, Sargam, Amar Akbar Anthony, Karz, Prem Rog .
Says more about the awarders than the awardee.
Sometimes, the awards in India are just wonky. In 1972, all the popular Filmfare awards went to a film prophetically entitled Beimaan. Does anyone remember this film? Beimaan won the best actor for Manoj Kumar, best supporting actor for Pran, and, most unforgivably, best music for Shankar-Jaikishan.
Does anyone recall a single song in Beimaan? This was the year of Pakeezah. The classic film, today considered one of Indian cinema's greatest ever, did not win a single award, not even for Ghulam Mohammed's immortal melodies. So furious was Pran at Ghulam Mohammed's exclusion from the richly deserved honour that he refused to take his award for Beimaan. Way to go, Pran Saab.
Raakhee Gulzar, who played the female lead in the film remembers, " When I was told I was getting the award for best actress in that awful film called Beimaan, I said I wouldn't accept it, not when just a few years earlier they refused to give me the award for what I thought was a commendable performance in Sharmilee. They chose to give Asha Parekh the best actress award that year for Kati Patang. Shockingly, they didn't even give Sachin Dev Burman the best music award for his soulful music in Sharmilee. In fact, Sachin and his son Rahul Dev Burman hardly ever got awards."
The joke is on the jury.
R D Burman never won awards for his path breaking chartbusters in Amar Prem, Caravan, Hare Rama Hare Krishna, Jawani Diwani, Parichay, Yaadon Ki Baaraat, Anamika, Khel Khel Mein, Hum Kissise Kam Nahin, Mehbooba, Aap Ki Kasam, Aandhi ,Kinara. During the days of his decline, he suddenly received two back-to-back Filmfare awards for Sanam Teri Kasam and Masoom in 1983 and 1984.
Making up for lost time, is not always the right method to recognize talent. The great composer Madan Mohan did not get any awards during his lifetime.
The Nightingale Lata Mangeshkar, who stopped accepting Filmfare awards after getting them for three consecutive years, recalls Madan Mohan's disappointment when he did not get any awards for his music in Woh Kaun Thi, the film that contains one of Lataji's most cherished melodies 'Lag Ja Gale Se'.
Does anyone recall who got the music award during the year of Woh Kaun Thi? When the award was announced, Lataji rang up to her dear Madan Bhaiyya and expressed her opinion that he deserved to be recognized for his tunes in this film.
"Aapne yeh kaha, yehi mera award hai," Madan Mohan replied quietly. Today, the world is saying it. 'Lag Ja Gale Se' is among the best melodies ever composed for Indian cinema. And we don't need awards to endorse that opinion.
They wrote off Rahul Dev Burman as a spent force in his last years. R.D. would sit on the verandah of his home staring at the traffic passing by. He would tie a bed sheet to front portion of the verandah so that people from the outside wouldn't see him. Then, after his death, they resurrected him as the composing genius with 1942: A Love Story.
There is no greater revenant in the realm of the raga than Rahul Dev Burman.