KARACHI: Pakistan’s oldest film awards, Nigar, will be held after a pause of 12 years on March 16 in Karachi. This was announced at a press conference attended, apart from the media, by a stellar line-up of showbiz personalities at a local hotel on Thursday.

The host of the presser, who is also a committee member of the event, Shehnaz Ramzi, first went down memory lane sharing with the audience her family’s connection with the award ceremony. She said ever since the resurgence of the film industry in the country, efforts had been made to revive the Nigar Awards. However, it was only Aslam Ilyas Rasheedi, son of Ilyas Rasheedi Sahib who instituted the awards, because of whom the ceremony was now again being organised.

Before the guest speakers’ speeches, a showreel depicting the various phases of the Nigar Awards and their contribution to the cinema industry was screened. It was received with a generous round of applause.

Aslam Ilyas Rasheedi said the 47th Nigar Awards would be held on March 16. He told the attendees that he’d been trying for the past 12 years to get a sponsor who could help him arrange the event, but eventually he realised that he himself could do it. For that purpose, he gathered a bunch of hard-working people who enabled him to take the big step. He said this time round the awards would also have technical categories. A jury had been set up to take important decisions. The idea was to acknowledge the young talent which often got ignored.

Mr Rasheedi’s team comprises Kashif Warsi, Fahad Sherwani and Ali Rizvi. Kashif Warsi said it was a challenge for him to make the award show happen after 12 years, and now the challenge was being posed to the media to help them make the effort a successful one. He remarked: “Pakistan is Nigar and Nigar is Pakistan.”

Fahad Sherwani said the credit for making the Nigar Awards happen again went to Mr Rasheedi. He was able to assemble a good team and now it would be made sure that awards were given to the talented lot of the country and not on the basis of jaan pehchaan (nepotism).

Ali Rizvi said all over the world award programmes were put up by private bodies. He stressed that their aim was to make the process a ‘legitimate’ one.

After the formal speeches some of the stars present in the audience were requested to say a few words. Film and advert director Asim Raza said he was sure that the Nigar Awards would add value to the film industry.

Actor Mustafa Qureshi said Aslam Rasheedi, even in unfavourable circumstances, was able to run the magazine that his father used to run effectively. He expressed his happiness over the relaunch of the award ceremony. He also spoke on the current situation of cinema houses, saying that our cinema owners did not give enough importance to Pakistani films.

Published in Dawn, January 20th, 2017