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    No hanky-panky in ITA awards: Shashi Ranjan

    [Interview by Subhash K.Jha]
    Monday, November 14, 2005
    The Indian Television Awards (ITA) follows a transparent system while picking winner although there is great resentment among TV stars who lose out, says ITA convenor Shashi Ranjan.

    Shashi Ranjan says one "cannot please everyone" while looking for the best performers on television.

    Excerpts from an interview with IANS:

    Lots of disgruntled people after the awards this year.

    That's entirely because of the large number of people who came and received awards. It's bound to create a sense of dissatisfaction among a section. What I cannot understand is why trivial matters like who sat where at the function matters! Can't we look at the awards in the larger context?

    A section of the media ponders unnecessarily on trivial matters. How does it matter if Aamna Sharif and Rajiv Khandelwal did not attend our function? There were a thousand other TV personalities.

    A lot of actors were disappointed by the results?

    We have a foolproof and transparent system of picking winners. Someone or the other has to get miffed. If you do not win, you feel you were unfairly treated. You cannot please everyone. I have taken on powerful channels and production houses in the past that have threatened to boycott our functions.

    I had decided that if ITA has to survive they would survive honestly. We had a distinguished jury this time which included Shrabani Deodhar, Ravi Ojha, Jyoti Venkatesh, Sourabh Narang, Vinay Apte, Shubha Khote. The jury was headed by Raveena Tandon.

    These comprise an impeccable cross-section. We do not nominate any serial or actor. We ask the production houses to send in their entries. It's their prerogative who they choose. The results are announced only on the evening of the function. You can talk to any jury member. We do not interfere at all.

    But the rancour this time is manifold.

    That's because the television industry is getting larger. The stakes are higher. Obviously there will be more resentment.

    But Balaji serials and actors did corner a sizeable number of awards.

    Yes. But they are ever popular. What Ekta Kapoor is doing while making 30 serials at the same time, is incredible. At the same time other production houses are also doing worthy work. And we want them to honoured. The jury awards are given to the less popular but deserving. This time we gave the jury award to "Siddhanth". Last year we gave it to "Haqeeqat".

    Last year an absolute newcomer Geeta Nair from the south got the jury award for best actress. But we cannot avoid the popular serials in the awards.

    I am an industry person. I do not want to get into the pitfalls of the popular awards functions. When on the day of the function the invitees phone to ask me if they should come, I know what they mean.

    What?

    Obviously that we know who the winners are. But we do not (reveal that). We cannot. We have the full support of our sponsors Hero Honda. We want to maintain transparency and integrity. If we don't we will be finished in two years.

    There are so many TV awards now!

    If they aren't there just to look glamorous on television then I welcome them. The competition is mind-boggling. We had 2,500 nominations from 150 production houses on 35 channels. It shows ITA has become 'The' award for television.

    Do you think television is catching up with cinema?

    In terms of glamour and reach, ITA is as big as any popular film awards. We never encourage groupism.

    Are the live performances expensive?

    They never come cheap. We have the best TV stars attending and performing for us. For the next year, 20 popular TV stars are already clamouring to perform for us.


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