At its 18th show, held on July 7 evening at the Karachi Expo, the Lux Style Awards (LSA) truly came of age.
Pakistan’s annual fashion and performing arts event that was instituted in 2002, has since showcased new talent, honoured the best in the business, and feted the living legends in its own special ways, besides getting a large starry turnout every year.
It is also credited for making more than just a few dozen red-carpet statements. Quite like the Oscars — albeit in a much humbler manner — the LSA is never oblivious to any social or political movements impacting the people. If 2018’s event was designed in the backdrop of the #MeToo campaign — localised by the show director Frieha Altaf (of Catwalk) as #MainBhee — and the harrowing incident of rape and murder of a minor girl in the city of Kasur, this year’s theme was women empowerment.
Be it Mehwish Hayat, in a fiery Fahad-Hussayn ensemble, who stormed the stage with the confidence of a trailblazer and dared her detractors to be more accepting of her achievements (obviously hinting at how her recent Tamgha-i-Imtiaz win didn’t go down well with many); or the new Lux girl Saba Qamar, who changed into four designer outfits during the course of the night, each projecting a strong side of her personality — from the simple and elegant, off-white gown by Zaheer Abbas, to the bold, heavily-sequined, tea-pink suit with cape by Hussain Rehar.
Qamar paid glowing tributes to yesteryear’s Lollywood actress Shabnam, who had flown in especially from Dhaka, Bangladesh, along with son Ronny Ghosh, to receive her Lifetime Achievement award. This was decidedly the best part of the show and also saw Maya Ali, Meera, and Asad Siddiqi perform on remixed versions of the songs originally filmed on Shabnam and her costar of most films, Nadeem Baig. Atif Aslam’s soulful rendition of ‘Mujhe Dil Se Na Bhulana,’ a memorable track from the legendary screen couple’s longest running film, ‘Aina’ (1977), capped the segment.
Earlier, the show began with a bouncy Fahad Mustafa appreciating the role of female actors in advancing different social welfare causes. He gave way to Momina Mustehsan and Eva B, the teenage rapper from Lyari known for her indie song, ‘Gully girls’. The two performed on what was supposed to be an ode to womanhood, choreographed by Wahab Shah. They didn’t exactly set the stage on fire, but they were all about girl power.
Sheheryar Munawwar and Maya Ali, the first hosting duo of the night, too could not lift the mood of a jaded audience, thanks to their lacklustre lines. Comedian Ahmed Ali Butt and model turned actress Uzma Khan breathed some life into the show. Butt was in top form as he quipped about “sab se barri tabdeeli” (the biggest change) being the fact that Meera “sab ki baaji bun gai hain!” (Meera has become everyone’s elder sister). The audience was thoroughly amused.
Meera also proved to be a good sport — she embraced the attribute, saying she was “proud to be Baaji.” The actress who recently made a comeback with a movie by the same title, concluded with her lines from the film: “You can love me, or you can hate me. But you can never replace me!”
An Iqra Aziz sounded similarly pompous in her maiden speech: “Like Snoop Dogg I’d like to thank me, for believing in me, and for having faith in me,” she said, while accepting the award for Best Actress (TV; Viewers’ Choice), ‘Suno Chanda’.
Aziz is indeed television industry’s newest darling, as was evidenced by her second consecutive win on the night — Best Actress (TV; Jury) — for Hum TV’s popular Ramadan soap.
The stars of the critically acclaimed feature, ‘Laal Kabootar’, Ahmed Ali Akbar and Mansha Pasha, who opened the film segment, recounted how our screen women have evolved from just looking pretty and singing and dancing around the trees. “In 2018, [our films] showed that our girls ride motorbikes,” an eloquent Pasha said, with reference to second-time director Adnan Sarwar’s uplifting biopic, ‘Motorcycle Girl’, which also won Sohai Ali Abro the Best Actress (Jury) award.
Interestingly, for a show whose underlying message was ‘More power to female entertainers,’ the LSA had courted a unique controversy earlier on when a couple of ladies nominated in different categories chucked out in protest of the nomination of Ali Zafar, the alleged harasser of singer Meesha Shafi.
Realising fully well that the case is sub judice, the organisers went on with the nominations, and also successfully saved any adverse audience reaction from jeopardising the show. They even got away with Zafar being declared the Best Actor (Viewers’ Choice) for ‘Teefa In Trouble’.
Inside the colossal Expo Centre, the crowd which had visibly thinned by now — the hour hand had hit two in the night — was taken by surprise when Zafar’s name was announced as winner. Pakistan’s first major crossover actor, who boasts a huge fan following in India also, Zafar has always been LSA’s blue-eyed boy. But this wasn’t precisely why he won the award that he truly deserved for his effortless portrayal of the illiterate, flamboyantly dressed, hired assassin from Lahore’s neighbourhood, who has a heart of gold and an unmistakable comic streak.
Zafar gave the show a miss — he’s currently on a concert tour to the US — but he was quick to post a note of gratitude on his Instagram account: “I accept this humbly with love & gratitude. […] Love to my family, friends, my fans and my manager who supported me unconditionally till the end.”
Back on the LSA stage, the script (by Sarmad Sultan Khoosat) didn’t seem to work. For instance, the (so-called) funny banter between comedy actor Ali Safina and mimicry artist Shafaat Ali was a yawn. And so was Yasir Hussain and Hina Dilpazir’s gig. Dilpazir’s trans-model act was a nonstarter, from the word go.
It was Saba Qamar who added the much-needed chutzpah to the show, with “Chatpati news” (spicy news), her short segment with Hussain. Her comic timing was spot-on.
The Best Director (Film)’s category was the only other time the drab routine was broken, as five mainstream filmmakers of today — Asim Raza, Sarmad Sultan Khoosat, Saqib Malik, Sangeeta, and Ehteshamuddin — gathered on stage and announced one film each, while also explaining why they were rooting for it.
Among other highlights of the show, Yasir Hussain surprised everyone when he publicly expressed his feelings for his lady love, Iqra Aziz, who was seated away in the audience. Hussain went down on his knees to propose to her, a ring in hand. An overwhelmed Aziz nervously accepted the ring. The two were locked in one long embrace, which later got them a barrage of trolls on social media.
Aziz’s wardrobe — an Ali-Xeeshan floral dress with a long trail — also became the butt of public jokes.
Classic Oscar gown seemed to be the norm on the red carpet, as far as women’s couture is concerned. Where Mahira Khan sizzled in a shimmery golden gown that flattered her hour-glass figure, Sana Javed looked dew-fresh in her off-shoulder indigo dress.
For the boys, suits and tuxes ruled; not many dared to veer from the traditional black or charcoal gray. A Sheheryar Munawwar cut quite a dash in an Ismail-Farid suit, while Bilal Ashraf looked dapper in black-tie. The Janaan actor never left the side of Khan, his latest costar. The two posed generously for shutterbugs, barely a month ahead of the release of their first film together, aptly titled Superstar.
Khan even demonstrated her now-famous twirl from the recently released song clip, ‘Bekaraan,’ and got huge cheers from the crowd. Sadly for her fans, she left the venue mid-show, perhaps because she knew she wasn’t going to contribute to the event in terms of presenting/receiving any awards or performing on stage. Which proves exactly why, for instance, a Hayat participated with so much gusto, or why an Aamina Sheikh (nominated for her highly nuanced performance in Cake) chose to sit it out.
Sheikh losing the Best Actress (Film; Jury) trophy to Abro disappointed her fans. Mercifully, ‘Cake’ won the Best Film (Jury) award.
There were a few other upsets, such as Sana Javed not winning the Best Actress (TV) award for her performance in Khaani, despite being a critics’ favourite. No one knows exactly what happened backstage at the last minute.
Some of the wins were predictable enough, such as Omar Farooq (of Republic) who bagged the trophy for Achievement in Fashion Design – Menswear, or Rahat Fateh Ali Khan who walked away with the Best OST, ‘Khaani’; or playwright Bee Gul whose ‘Darr Si Jaati Hai Sila’, a gritty tale of incest, had got her great popular feedback as well as a notice from the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA). Sharing her experiences, Gul said, “My inbox got choked with messages from all around the world which were real stories of the real victims. It broke my heart when I read those messages. I got to know that every other woman in our society has been abused or molested physically, emotionally or financially. And it further broke my heart when I got a notice from PEMRA to explain why ‘Darr Si Jaati Hai Sila’ was an uncomfortable watch. And all I could write was, ‘Yes, I hope such projects never become a comfortable watch’.”
LSA 2019 wrapped up on a high note, as the show’s feisty host Fahad Mustafa returned to collect his Best Actor (Film; Jury) trophy for Load Wedding, from Imran Aslam, President Geo TV Network, and Mawra Hocane.
Complete list of winners
Best Film Actor (Viewer’s Choice): Ali Zafar for ‘Teefa in Trouble’
Best Film Actor (Critics Choice): Fahad Mustafa for ‘Load Wedding’
Best Film Actress (Viewer’s Choice): Mehwish Hayat for ‘Load Wedding’
Best Film Actress (Critics Choice): Sohai Ali Abro for ‘Motorcycle Girl’
Best Film: ‘Cake’
Best Film Director: Ahsan Rahim for ‘Teefa in Trouble’
Best Original Soundtrack (Viewer’s Choice): Rahat Fateh Ali Khan for ‘Khaani’
Best Playback Singer Film (Viwer’s Choice): Atif Aslam for ‘Tham Lo’
Singer of the Year: Mohsin Abbas and Sohail Haider ‘Na Jaa’
Viewer’s Choice Song of the Year: Khumariyaan for ‘Ya Qurban’
Viewer’s Choice Best Emerging Talent (Music): Saakin for ‘Saqi e Bewafa’
Best TV Actor (Viewer’s Choice): Feroze Khan for ‘Khaani’
Best TV Actor (Critics Choice): Nouman Ejaz for ‘Dar Si Jati Hai Sila’
Best TV Actress (Viewer’s Choice): Iqra Aziz for ‘Suno Chanda’
Best TV Actress (Critics Choice): Iqra Aziz for ‘Suno Chanda’
Best TV Play (Viewer’s Choice): ‘Suno Chanda’ on Hum TV Network
Best TV Play for Writer: Beegul for ‘Dar Si Jati Hai Sila’
Best TV Play Director: Kashif Nisar for ‘Dar si Jati Hai Sila’
Best Emerging Talent TV: Rida Bilal
Model of the Year (Female): Sadaf Kanwal
Model of the Year (Male): Shahzad Noor
Achievement in Fashion Design-Pret: Chapter 2
Achievement in Fashion Design - Luxury Pret: Sana Safinaz
Achievement in Fashion Design-Menswear: Republic by Omer Farooq
Achievement in Fashion Design- Bridal Couture: Kamiar Rokni
Best Fashion Photographer: Rizwan ul Haq
Best Hair & Make-up Artist: Qasim Liaqat
Best Emerging Talent in Fashion: Mushk Kaleem