MUMBAI: What could have possibly prompted India’s biggest publishing house to suddenly host an international film awards when they already have their very popular awards?
It’s a question that Sabbas Joseph, the architect of the established international Indian film awards IIFA (International Indian Film Awards), has been trying to answer ever since the Times Group announced their own international awards TOIFA ahead of the IIFA.
The soft-spoken Sabbas says, “What can we say, except that imitation is the best form of flattery. Imitation also reflects a clear sign of creative bankruptcy. We’d have been seriously offended and worried if their plans affected us in any way. But we are going ahead with exactly what we planned.”
While Sabbas, who is the director of IIFA and Wizcraft International, is tightlipped about the venue and other details of this year’s awards, insiders say IIFA has big unconventional plans to commemorate 100 years of cinema.
“We stand committed to giving Indian cinema a global platform and to expanding the scope of our awards,” says Sabbas.
Apparently, the IIFA organizers did consider legal options when the other international awards were suddenly announced.
Says Sabbas, “We could’ve taken the legal route. But we decided to just let it be. The film industry and our sponsers are aware that this is the 13th year of the IIFA .We’ve sustained the standards we had set for ourselves.We wanted to give Indian cinema a certain global dimension.And I think we managed to do that.”
Sabbas stresses the fact that unlike other popular awards, celebrity head-count is not a priority for the IIFA.
“We do not give awards as per the attendance. We don’t change the names of the nominees if the person selected for an award doesn’t show up. We’d like to think that the IIFA has a certain credibility. We have given awards to absentee winners. It’s a brand that hasn’t been built overnight.”
Sabbas also reveals that the venue for this year’s IIFA was changed from Vancouver not because of TOIFA but other practical considerations. “It just didn’t suit us financially or otherwise. We decided to pull out from Vancouver long before the other award,” he says.
Now Sabbas Joseph says the IIFA is in no rush to beat its overnight global competitors. “We’ll carry on with our plans. We could have easily come with our event in the first-half of the year. There will be no preponement of the IIFA to come before the other awards. We’ll continue to come as per schedule each year irrespective of what others do.”
However, concrete plans and schedules for this year’s IIFA are being kept tightly under wraps.
Says Sabbas, “We are not speaking about what we intend to do at this year’s IIFA at the moment, lest our acts and performances get copied. All I’ll say at the moment is, this is the 100th year of cinema. And we are proud to be celebrating cinema. Let’s not waste time in absurd games of one-upmanship.” No IIFA vs TOIFA for him.