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September 09, 2018


The opening act with the hosts of the evening failed to entertain
The opening act with the hosts of the evening failed to entertain

Are awards ceremonies exciting? Do they still create a buzz in the air? In an age where every aspect of a ceremony is immediately aired out on social media — from backstage videos to the red carpet to the event itself — are they still dazzling, exclusive affairs? Can song, dance, a smattering of stars in gowns and awards results be rustled together into a stellar show? Sometimes, yes — but not always.

Awards shows are now ubiquitous to the point that they need to have more in order to rivet. And shows dedicated to style particularly need to ooze style and glamour. The third Hum Style Awards (HSAs) tried — but didn’t always succeed in doing so.

It isn’t as if the HSAs particularly faced any tough competition from any of the many other awards ceremonies that sporadically surface year after year. Entertainment-based awards in Pakistan generally bumble along, replete with delays, hosts forgetting their scripts, actors falling while dancing, shoddy on-stage humour and even the occasional insensitive, offensive comment. Expert editing and plenty of reshooting of segments is usually required before a show actually manages to become glossy enough to be aired on TV. Able technicians are certainly going to have their hands full while sprucing up this year’s HSAs.

But will they manage to? No amount of editing can hide the fact that some of the country’s biggest stars were missing from the red carpet. Was it because many of them had already participated in the ‘other’ Hum awards — dedicated to recognising and applauding the Hum Network’s in-house annual projects — that had taken place little more than a month ago in Canada? The HSAs rustled up a fair bit of star power but it wasn’t quite enough. Where were so many of the country’s top actors, actresses and rock stars who usually happily flock to the red carpet hosted by a network that they work with so often?

The third annual Hum Style Awards took place this past weekend. Despite the hype, more is needed to make them a memorable experience

However, this is just a minor gripe. One would have easily ignored the absence of a large chunk of the country’s celebrities — or the fact that the show predictably started nearly two hours late — had the ceremony itself have had been entertaining. It wasn’t.

Those Hosts … And That Script!

Ayesha Omar with the award for Most Stylish TV Host
Ayesha Omar with the award for Most Stylish TV Host

And how could the show entertain when the hosts couldn’t quite deliver one-liners and fumbled with the script? Ahmed Ali Akbar, Asim Azhar, Ainy Jaffri Rahman and Syra Shahroz lacked the glib insouciance of an Ahmed Ali Butt or the wit of a Yasir Hussain. The usual gimmickry that draws laughs simply failed this time. Ahmed and Asim roamed about the front few rows, quizzing stars and giving out ‘Hum Smile Awards’ and Ainy and Syra quipped over stars’ childhood pictures. But they paused far too often, almost as if they were still rehearsing rather than hosting the show itself. Their repartee was stilted and there were points when one felt that they were bored — much of the audience certainly was.

Further letting them down was a script that relied far too much on hackneyed jokes and the ceremony’s tendency to slip in sponsors’ ads in between various segments. How could a cooking oil or a biscuit ad be interspersed in between an awards show dedicated to glamour? How could the show’s organisers allow this?

At one point, Asim Azhar even commented, “Let’s ponder over this particular cooking oil that has now assisted in the making of delicious food for the past 56 years.” Burden a ceremony with generic ads, a script like that and lacklustre hosts and it simply lumbers beyond redemption.

Our Bollywood Obsession

Feroze Khan channeled his inner Shahid Kapoor in a solo performance
Feroze Khan channeled his inner Shahid Kapoor in a solo performance

Could the performances then have been the show’s saving grace? They were certainly more energetic. The opening act was a tad forgettable but following it up were Sadaf Kanwal and Amna Ilyas shaking a leg along with a very lithe Mohsin Abbas Haider, Feroze Khan channeling his inner Shahid Kapoor with a solo dance performance and the hit couple from the drama Suno Chanda, Farhan Saeed and Iqra Aziz, on stage together for the first time.

Why, though, were they dancing to Bollywood songs when we now have a slew of recent local musical hits that can easily be incorporated into awards shows? Was it, as some conjectured, because local hits would have promoted other media houses? Perhaps it would also have been more interesting had the dances followed a peg — a tribute to an icon or a skit that led up to the performance, for instance. We may be a nation of Bollywood buffs — and there’s nothing wrong with that — but why does this obsession have to be aired out so wholeheartedly at a major awards show? Shouldn’t the focus be on promoting and applauding our own?

On a sidenote, the dancer’s costumes were eyesores. One understands that on-stage outfits need to be flamboyant, but heavy outpourings of bling on polyester just doesn’t look good.

Begone with ‘Goans’!

Hadiqa Kiani won the Most Stylish Performer, Female award
Hadiqa Kiani won the Most Stylish Performer, Female award

Speaking of costumery, actresses predictably made a beeline for gowns — or may we say ‘goans’? — for the red carpet. Some succeeded in looking glamorous — Saba Qamar, Aamina Sheikh, Sanam Saeed, Hania Aamir and Zoe Viccaji among them — but the rest ran the gamut from the bawdy to the gaudy, evidently uncomfortable in outfits that most of us don’t know how to carry and most designers don’t know how to construct. Eliminate the shalwar from a kameez and it’s a ‘goan’, remove the dupatta from a lehnga choli and it can be a ‘goan’ or just simply wear a really, really long kameez — could our actresses revert to the erstwhile choorridaar now, please? It may be a tad safe choice but it at least looks more elegant.

The awards

Saba Qamar hands a petite Iqra Aziz the Most Stylish TV Actor, Female award
Saba Qamar hands a petite Iqra Aziz the Most Stylish TV Actor, Female award

Much better in comparison were the awards which had some that had the fashion fraternity actually guessing and recognised the ‘stylish’ amongst the acting, music and sports fraternity. Apparently, they were being judged on their personal style and grace at events and on social media rather than their work. Whatever floats your boat, I guess. They could have been good fun if not particularly significant — but far more is needed to work at the HSAs to make them a memorable experience.

Published in Dawn, ICON, September 9th, 2018