Twelve years is a considerable period of time to carve and establish an identity as a credible awards show, and having seen a close-door ceremony and then better times (Kuala Lumpur, 2011), this time round the LSA ceremony was held in Lahore to expand horizons and look outside the comfort zone that has been Karachi.
The result was visually appealing in its kaleidoscopic nature but with hits and misses. The fact is that Lahore remains the hub of all things fashion and entertainment, but the downside was that some of its more prominent faces were mysteriously missing both on the Red Carpet and the ceremony itself. Overall, the LSAs did make amends by hosting internationally acclaimed artist Atif Aslam among others, and also by making a conscious attempt to take on a Lahori identity after being touted as a Karachi-centric event.
Master of ceremonies Ahmed Ali Butt was the master of giggles and guffaws and he kept them coming quick and constant, keeping things entertaining every time he appeared on stage. The show organisers know a good thing when they see one and judging from his charged performance at the ceremony held at the Expo Centre in Karachi last year, it was a wise move to hold on to Mr Butt now that the show had come to his hometown. Ahmed’s comic timing remains impeccable and his wit is still fresh. For the moment, Butt makes us laugh and that too really well.
His opening performance of Aaj ki Shaam Lux kay Naam and then a spoof of Taher Shah’s Eye to Eye triggered tremendous applause. It was refreshing to see a show host who can hold his own on stage no matter how much of a misfit he might be when compared to the cosmetic charms of a beautiful young hostess.
The awards understandably had an obvious Lollywood calling this year. From honouring popular, big screen baddie Mustafa Qureshi to Meera’s solo performance to Aaj Meera Naache Gi which preceded the song and dance medley by five screen sirens — Mathira, Sana, Meera, Noor and Sahiba — on popular filmi love anthems sung by (Late) Malika-i-Tarannum Noor Jehan, further acknowledgment came in the form of Saba Hameed delivering an obituary for all those stars who “once ruled the screen and are now to be found in the heavens” — Mehdi Hasan, Mehnaz Begum, Safirullah Lehri, yesteryear film star Aasiya, lyricist/composer Master Manzoor Hussain and puppeteer Faizaan Peerzada.
Lahore-based Naheed Akhter’s much-awaited public appearance after her recent decision to return to singing was played up along with the recognition of Atif Aslam’s singing talent as she presenting him with the Youth Icon Award. In many ways it symbolised the passing of the torch from one generation to the other, and the moment will live on in the visual archive of the awards. Another was the presentation of the Unilever Chairman’s Lifetime Achievement Award to the musical genius of the son of the soil, (Late) Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, announced by a prominent name in the social fabric of the Walled City, Mian Yousuf Salahuddin.
Needless to say, right from the costumes to the LSA show reel graphics — it all bore a strong imprint of Lahore. And as if by an unseen force of nature, the hunch was further strengthened by the Best Music Video Director going to Farhad Humayun of Overload, Best Fashion Photographer award being bagged by Guddu Shani, Best Dressed Male celebrity belonging to Ali Xeeshan, Ammar Belal for Best Menswear, Best Female Model going to Mehreen Syed and the Lifetime Achievement Award in Fashion statuette presented by Salima Hashmi to Sehyr Saigol, among others. It seems Lady Luck was favouring Lahore at the LSAs that night and vice versa, as the long list of recipients belonged to the city.
A nod to young talent by way of song and dance performances and Ahmed Siddiqui’s win in Best Emerging Talent was heartening to say the least. As for controversies, there’s always a fair share of them and Ayesha Omer’s Best Album win for Khamoshi raised eyebrows and an exchange of quizzical looks, given the strong contenders in this category. What can one say: the gal has the devil’s luck! But that’s showbiz for you and more specifically the LSAs … and it’s how the cookie crumbles here.
Show director: Frieha Altaf Styling, hair & make-up: Nabila (N-Pro) Photography: Faisal Farooqui @ Dragonfly