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The Lady in Black

One of the most respected film events in India, the Filmfare Awards honour artistic and technical excellence in the Hindi-language film industry of India.

Did you know that The Clares or the Clare Awards was the original name of the Filmfare Awards when it was first introduced in 1954 by the Filmfare magazine of The Times of India group? It was named after The Times of India film critic, Clare Mendonca who had died the same year. While Meena Kumari won the best actress for Baiju Bawra, Dilip Kumar got the best actor for Daag in the first year of these awards. Music director Naushad Ali won the best music award for Tu Ganga Ki Mauj for Baiju Bawra while Bimal Roy got the best director and best film for Do Beegha Zamin. The maiden awards function was held on March 21, 1954 at Metro Theatre of Mumbai. For the first awards, Hollywood actor Gregory Peck was invited to be the guest of honour. Unfortunately, his flight from Colombo got delayed and he could not make it to the awards ceremony. But Peck did attend the banquet the same night at Wellington Club (Gymkhana) in Mumbai.

While the winners were decided by the readers of Filmfare from all over India in the first two years, a dual voting system was developed in 1956 wherein both public and a committee of experts voted the winners. This was in contrast to the National Film Awards decided by a panel appointed by Indian Government. The Filmfare Awards honour artistic and technical excellence in the Hindi-language film industry. In addition to the flagship event, Filmfare has variants – Filmfare Awards South for South Indian cinema, Filmfare Marathi Awards for Marathi cinema and Filmfare Awards East for eastern Indian cinema. In 2017, the Short Film category was introduced to the Filmfare Awards, with Khamakha winning the People’s Choice Award for Best Short Film. Other short films like Chutney, Matitali Kusti and Taandav won awards as well. Apart from being the most coveted awards in the film industry, the Filmfare Awards are also famous for its statuette, often termed as The Black Lady or The Lady in Black. It depicts a woman with upraised arms as in a dance number with fingers touching. Generally made of bronze, weighing around five kilos and 46.5 cm tall, the statuette was originally designed by NG Pansare under the supervision of The Times of India’s art director Walter Langhammer. However, in the 25th year of these awards, the statues were made in silver while the 50th year saw the statues in gold.

Only a few transformations were made to The Black Lady till 2012 but in 2013, the trophy was given a 3D look as the organisers felt it necessary to move with the times in these days of technological advancements. At the 2021 Filmfare Awards, Irrfan won the best actor in a leading role (male) award for Angrezi Medium, best actor in a leading role (female) went to Taapsee Pannu for Thappad which also won the best film award. The best actor in a supporting role (male) went to Saif Ali Khan for Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior while Farrokh Jaffar won the best actor in a supporting role (female) for Gulabo Sitabo. The best lyricist award went to Gulzar for song Chhappak for the movie by the same name and Pritam won the best music album award for Ludo. Raghav Chaitanya was declared winner in the best playback singer (male) category for Ek Tukda Dhoop (Thappad) while Asees Kaur took home The Black Lady in the best playback singer (female) category for Malang in the movie by the same name.

The world knows and praises artistes and performers who sizzle on the screen but the ones we meet here are the backbones of a movie.

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