Just when you were wondering if they would ever surface, the Lux Style Awards (LSAs) nominations for 2014 were announced, bringing with them the usual spate of wounded egos, controversy and tirades.
The Television nominations particularly have come under fire, with the initial list excluding Geo TV’s Bashar Momin from the Best Satellite Play category and the lion’s share of nominations being dedicated to ARY Digital.
Subsequently, Faysal Quraishi was nominated as Best Actor for his role in 'Bashar Momin' only for the actor to refuse the nomination, complaining openly on social media of the “bias within a once very prestigious award.” Other contenders, specifically productions by Hum TV, have also blatantly backed out.
Meanwhile, the cinematic categories reflect the growth within local cinema, pitting the commercial hit Na Maloom Afraad against the not-so-successful Operation O21 and thought-provoking Dukhtar.
However, eyebrows have been raised because of the omission of Mohib Mirza for Dukhtar in the Best Film Actor nominations while Ayub Khosa has been recognised for a role in Operation O21 that didn’t impress many.
This year also marks the apt return of the bridal fashion category to the LSAs. Also welcome is the elimination of the confusing High Street category which endlessly got confused with Pret and Luxury-pret.
This year also marks the apt return of the bridal fashion category to the LSAs. It’s a long overdue change: bridal fashion has thankfully become more experimental and bridal events consistently dot the local fashion roster. Also welcome is the elimination of the confusing High Street category which endlessly got confused with Pret and Luxury-pret. The fashion nominations uncharacteristically remain non-controversial although one does notice the omission of some seasoned players.
Khaadi’s ready-to-wear, winner of 10 Luxies thus far, is no longer in the running now that the ‘High Street’ category has been eliminated. The brand does figure in the unstitched lawn nominations, though.
Debates inevitably follow the nomination announcements and though they continue to be riveting, it’s fast becoming difficult to get excited about the LSAs. For how does one associate credibility with a platform that refuses to take itself seriously? The high-tea that took place last year — an ‘understated, elegant affair’, as described by the LSA organisers — couldn’t possibly compare to the grandiose galas of previous years.
The LSA platform has been built brick by brick with veterans like Frieha Altaf and Fareshteh Aslam working hard to steer the event on, adding heavy doses of glamour, plenty of scintillating performances and the requisite whiffs of high fashion.
What’s unfathomable is the awards office’s ease with meting out accolades for the previous year at the tail-end of the next year. It doesn’t make sense.
There was a time when Atif Aslam descended onto the LSA stage on a flying carpet, when Priyanka Chopra and Sonu Nigam were roped in for a bit of Bollywood masala, Reema boogied with designer HSY on-stage, Runa Laila took center stage with her biggest hits and the crème de la crème of the Pakistani entertainment fraternity were flown off to Genting Highlands for a memorable show. Lately, though, the LSAs have veered towards the mediocre, putting out half-baked, low-budget events or worse, no event at all.
What’s even more unfathomable is the awards office’s ease with meting out accolades for the previous year at the tail-end of the next year. It doesn’t make sense. The world over, the initial months of the year signify award season, beginning sometime in early January and culminating usually around end February with the Oscars. Our desi LSAs, meanwhile, found nothing wrong with giving out awards in November last year to the winners of 2013. By this time, of course, people had more or less forgotten the previous year’s achievements.
This year, sadly, seems to be following suit. Even though jury meetings were held as early as March, the LSA event is tentatively scheduled for the last quarter of the year with no confirmed date announced as yet.
When will the LSAs put their act together? “Soon,” says Fareshteh Aslam, Country Head at Golin Pakistan and in-charge of LSA’s media management, rather optimistically. “We have a number of exciting plans for the upcoming LSAs that we cannot discuss at the moment.”
Since great timing can’t possibly be credited to the upcoming awards, one can guess — and hope — that the organisers are cooking up a grand show. For one, Fawad Khan and Mahira Khan are sure to be a part of the event as they are the new faces of Lux’s latest campaign. Last year, Fawad created a furor when he hosted the ‘House of Lux’ dinner with Iman Ali. Now that he is making inroads into Bollywood with an upcoming Karan Johar movie and Mahira is riding high on cinematic success, featuring the Humsafar pair together is bound to be a major feather in the LSA cap. It also pretty much guarantees high viewership ratings.
However, what won’t guarantee ratings are humdrum performances and hackneyed odes. We’ve seen enough tributes to Madam Noor Jehan and Nazia Hassan to last us a lifetime and while Ali Azmat continues to be our favorite rockstar, how many more times will he come onstage lip-syncing to his hit songs from long ago? The same goes for Zoe Viccaji who is easy on the ears and eyes but has featured in enough award shows to now be positively boring.
Having retreated from the spotlight last year, the LSAs need to come back with a bang, being entertaining and inventive enough to keep audiences hooked. Tributes are important but so is highlighting the new stars in Pakistani entertainment. It’s been a promising few years for cinema and one hopes to see today’s ‘it’ stars traipsing across the LSA stage: Sikander Rizvi, Humaima Malick, Fahad Mustafa, Ayesha Omer, Danish Taimoor, Sohai Ali Abro, Armeena Rana Khan along with Fawad and Mahira.
One also hopes to see plenty of high fashion — that’s one quarter where the LSAs never disappoint — and performances reflective of the nascent talent struggling to make waves in local music, oscillating from Coke Studio’s soulful synergies to the beats of underground rock.
Speaking on why they have backed out of the Television nominations, authorities at Hum Network explained, “Even last year, we complained of the open favoritism within the LSAs when our drama Zindagi Gulzar Hai was not considered in the Best Satellite Play category... again, this time, we felt that the nominations were not fair.
Ever since their inception, LSA events have been masterminded by the very accomplished Frieha Altaf. Frieha’s done it all; balanced star schedules so that they could be available for the event, coerce a squabbling milieu of starlets into delivering exceptional performances and guarantee a scintillating red carpet. While organizers are yet to confirm whether Frieha will be part of this year’s event, it would certainly work well if she is roped in, wielding the flair and organizational skills that are characteristically, exclusively hers.
Regardless of whether the event manages to bring on the glamour, the LSA award results this year are bound to be mired in conflict. Speaking on why they have backed out of the Television nominations, authorities at Hum Network explained, “Even last year, we complained of the open favoritism within the LSAs when our drama* Zindagi Gulzar Hai* was not considered in the Best Satellite Play category,” explained Hum TV officials. “We may not win but hard work in the field at least needs to be recognized. Again, this time, we felt that the nominations were not fair and we decided not to be part of an awards system that lacked balance and credibility.”
Fareshteh Aslam reiterates, “Channel owners know that a television play is only eligible for a nomination if 70% of it has been aired during 70% of the awards year. I am surprised that they still continue cribbing. The industry is getting bigger and only a handful can get nominated. The jury’s decisions may get queried but they also have to be respected.
Otherwise, everyone may just as well nominate themselves on a quota basis!”
Looking at the LSA nominations over the years, this makes sense. Currently, ARY’s dramas may dominate the Television nomination categories but there was also a time when almost all the awards would be won by either Geo TV or the Hum Network. With last year’s hit Pyare Afzal to its credit, ARY is bound to win in several categories this time but who knows what may happen next year?
|The LSA winners from last year|
Nominees are sensitive about their work and despite being criticised constantly, the LSAs stand apart from other entertainment-based local awards ceremonies. The Hum Awards, in their third year now, taking place early in the year and boasting plenty of star-power, lose clout because they focus on just the Hum Network’s own productions. The same goes for the ARY Film Awards.
Still, how much longer will the LSAs manage to quell its detractors? Earlier, the awards were able to stand strong because of the sheer scope of their shows and some semblance of regularity. It’s an advantage that the LSAs have lost now.
It’s quite evident that changes needs to be made, and soon. Perhaps, put the TV nominations down to a fan’s vote rather than jury decisions in order to avoid controversies next year? The awards also need to do more than just announce credible results — they need to put up a show that is reflective of their 14-year-old legacy in Pakistani entertainment. And then they need to do the same next year … and the next. And they need to do it on time – early in the year – rather than much later. The LSAs need to take themselves seriously so that we can too.
A bit of magic, flair, sass and drama … it’s high time the LSAs got their signature groove back.
Published in Dawn, Sunday Magazine, August 16th, 2015