Out in Los Angles it has been another Oscar night. Over here we have Filmfare nites and Star & Style nites (our nights are spelt nites).
I have experience of Filmfare nites. Normally, two reporters would be assigned to cover it, and the chief reporter would personally oversee the work. Then there would be the night reporter in the office who would check all the proofs, take down additional bits of information rung in from the venue of the function. The management considered it the most important function of the year I would be one of the reporters and I would feel honoured, though the chief reporter took all the credit.
In the earlier days, the event used to be held at the Regal cinema, with the police, or nany band playing in the traffic island opposite the cinema, but this was before my time. And, yes, there was time before my time, though it may not appear so.
But, after the first few years, it was always held at Shanmuckananda Hall. It was the Times's favourite hall, no wonder it has started a fund to repair it. Crowds would gather outside to see Nargis and Dilip Kumar and Raj Kapoor. And the police would push them about, the crowds, not the stars.
Admission was strictly by invitaion and people tried for days in advance to get an invitation. The chief reporter would request: the wife of the general manager if the port trust would like to attend, you can't refuse her. The general manager helped in clearing all our newsprint when the dock workers were on strike.
And the management would refuse. The Shanmukhananda was not large enough to accommodate the wife of the general manager of the port trust.
David would stand with a microphone in the foyer of the hall, announcing the arrival of the stars and briefly interviewing them. Members of the editorial staff of Filmfare would help the guests find their seats. In other words, work as ushers. Even our S. Banaji did not object to that job.
Then the show would begin. Zeenat Aman or Amin Sayani would be the compere. No, not Keith Stevenson, he used to compere the Femina nites. There would be sundry items. Shankar and Jaikishen's orchestra. Or that other pair of music directios, who have recently broken up their partnership, their orchestra. Both the directors would be standing on little podia and conduction the same orchestra, which may have been a little confusing for the musicians.
There would be a come interlude by a team made up of Johnny Walker, Coca Cola, Keshto Mukherjee, Tuntun, etc. Lata Mangeshkar and Kishore Kumar would sing the prize-winning wongs Ms. Mangeshkar putting on her glasses and reading them from a school exercise book. And there would be a dance recital by the daughter or niece if some Time Of India director.
After the interval, the awards would be given and the speeches made. I would be taking notes…importantly.