Awards are a great occasion. On one hand the energy of the winners is palpable as they eagerly await the moment when their names get announced and on the other I am always intrigued by the psyche of the ‘stand-ins’ i.e. the ones who are called in at the penultimate moment to ‘come and collect the award on behalf of so and so…’
The stand-in has a distinct energy. He is unsure how he needs to behave. Should he behave as if he has received the award or should he behave as the truth stands i.e receive it just as someone who is receiving it on behalf of someone else? Now as he begins to walk towards the stage, his walk displays a tentative approach as if he is reluctantly moving towards the stage which is very unlike the actual winner who walks towards the stage with very certain quick steps. Next once the stand-in reaches the stage, he tries to restrain his smile. After all who is he to smile and what is there to smile about. He zips up his smile and then he thinks, shouldn’t he be happy for the winner, and then the smile reappears. Once perched on the spot, he forgets all that was going on his mind and assumes the role of the winner. He receives the trophy and then poses with it during the handing over of the trophy with a toothy grin as the flashlights light up the moment. Those seconds that he poses, you can see him experience ‘winning’. He maybe the stand-in for a managing director or for an actor or for a sportsman, the stand-in at that moment becomes one with the winner.
But what’s the point? Why do organizers take pictures with the stand-in of the Chief Guest handing over the trophy to the stand-in when he is a stand-in and not the real deal? Sometimes they also ask him to say a few words on the behalf of the winner. This is acceptable when instead of the Chairman of a company who was to have come to accept the award, the stand-in or in case an appropriate nominee is authorized to accept the award like the managing director and he has the credentials to say a ‘few words’ on behalf of the company but how can a lyricist say a ‘few words’ on behalf of the ‘best actress’ unless she would have conveyed it to him. At a recent film award function, since the winning singer was not present the emcee called on the lyricist to receive the award on the singer’s behalf and then made a request to the stand-in to sing a few lines of the winning song. The lyricist made the effort but the result was passable at best. One could make similar blunders if the actor on whom the song has been picturized is requested to hum a few lines on behalf of the music director. If there are several stand-ins the award evening can turn into a brand nightmare both for the event and the sponsor. Stand-ins do not stand for anything but what they are fulfilling, standing in!