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Ali Zafar and Humaima Malik at the LSA Finale — Photo Faisal Farooqui

His beaming smile, his soulful tribute to Mehdi Hassan and his energetic finale with Humaima Malik reliving the magic of Mere Brother ki Dulhan and London, Paris, New York was enough to power the evening. The 11th annual Lux Style Awards held in Karachi rode majorly on the voltage of one of Pakistan’s biggest stars alive, Ali Zafar.

It was an evening that transitioned between the classic and the contemporary as tributes to Mehdi Hassan and Ahmed Rushdi revived the Golden Era of Pakistani films while the performance by emerging musicians Noman Khalid, Ram Lal and Adil Omar were equally impressive. Young vocalists of the evening also included Junaid Khan, Bilal Khan, Sara Raza, Amanat Ali and Ahmed Jahanzeb who entertained the audience with a medley of Ahmed Rushdi’s great classics.

Qurat-ul-Ain Baloch surpassed Ali Azmat, Atif Aslam and Strings to bag the award for Song of the Year with Woh Humsafar Tha and it was evident that Pakistan has no dearth of talent when it comes to music.

The fact that TV nominations were dominated by young artists said something for the promising next generation. Sanam Baloch and Savera Nadeem were awarded Best Actress titles whereas names like Momina Duraid and Sarmad Khoosat were recognised for their achievements. Also in the foreground were Saba Qamar, Mahira Khan, Ali Safina, Fahad Mustafa and Aamina Sheikh who may not have all won but have all contributed notably to the rise of Pakistani drama in the past year.

The biggest hit serial from 2011, Humsafar could not make it this year on principle as a major part of the play ran into 2012 but its presence reverberated throughout the ceremony thanks to its soundtrack. It would have been gracious of Fawad Khan to have attended the show but his absence was compensated by Mahira Khan, Sarmad Khoosat and Momina Duraid.

This year’s fashion awards were a similar mix of the youthful and the iconic. They recognised Kamiar Rokni and Sania Maskatiya for Best Pret and Luxury Pret, Republic by Omar Farooq for Menswear, Rizwan-ul-Haq for Photography, Nabila for Hair and make-up (she styled the celebrity looks and performances for the evening), Khaadi as Pakistan’s Best High Street Brand and Sana Safinaz for designing the Best Lawn. Cybil Chowdry bagged the award for Best Model (female) while the very new face of Abbas Jafri picked up the accolade for Best Model (male). Best Emerging Talent in Fashion was awarded to AIFD graduate Zaheer Abbas whereas the Lifetime Achievement Award for Fashion was bestowed upon revivalist Faiza Samee.

Pakistan’s fashion industry has witnessed marked growth in the past decade and one has seen young blood inject itself into the scene, toppling monopolies and breaking through mafias.

One has seen the business of fashion overshadow the frivolity that was formerly associated with the field. And most significantly, one has seen the industry burgeon just as effortlessly as one sees Bollywood, for example, grow across the border.

Unfortunately, films have not been so lucky and this year’s unrivalled winner was Bol, the only movie to have qualified in a category recognising excellence in cinema. It bagged Best Actor (Manzar Sehbai), Best Actress (Humaima Malik) and Best Film (Shoaib Mansoor).

The awards may have been pivotal to the evening but performances were no less a landmark. It has to be said that Ahmad Ali Butt, replacing last year’s hosts (the BNN team) was just as entertaining, if not more. His repartee, that often tipped beyond gentle, amused the audience at the expense of ‘gay’ fashion designers that featured ‘fairies and queens’ in their shows.

He took a couple of digs at the poor state of cinema in Pakistan, with the industry being on a “one film a year policy” of family planning.

What more, his co-host through several segments of the evening, Meera not only looked better than ever but cracked all the right jokes, aimed primarily at Reema. “I don’t want to make a film that’ll leave me permanently in need of a doctor,” she said in reference to Reema’s husband. And then she added, “I’ll make a film or get married when I get to her age.”

Meera has become an LSA essential but Mathira has been holding her own too and was quite the star as she danced on the LSA stage to Ahmed Rushdi’s classics. Other LSA high spots of the evening included Aamina Sheikh and Ahsan Khan.

Pakistan’s young Oscar winner Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy was given an LSA in recognition of her recent achievement and she humbly stated that no matter where she had been acknowledged in the world, “It’s great to be honoured in my own country.”

Bits that were lacking

The 11th annual LSA ceremony wasn’t quite flawless.

For starters, the delays carried it way past midnight, which was too late for anyone considering it was a working day. Events of this magnitude must be planned over weekends, especially if they tend to carry through the night.

The red carpet was green but the problem lay in its lay-out not colour. Congested and stuffy, it did not befit the well-styled celebrities who would have shone brighter had they been given the space.

It was more important to see fashion and glamour sparkle on the red carpet with stars instead of in the show as fashion presentations. Ali Xeeshan, Akif Mehmood and Fahad Hussayn are undoubtedly three of Pakistan’s most promising young designers but one would prefer to see their work at fashion weeks, not award shows. One cannot imagine even the biggest names in international fashion — Chanel, Valentino, Versace — putting out collections for the Oscars. They dress the celebrities and that is enough.

The biggest issue with the LSAs, year after year, is the alternating presence and absence of stars and this year was no different. While the show more than adequately rode on Ali Zafar’s shoulders, one hoped that Ali Azmat, Atif Aslam, Hadiqa Kiyani, Strings and even Sanam Baloch and Noman Ejaz (all of whom were nominated and the last two even won) would grace us with their presence.

“I wouldn’t know specifically why they didn’t turn up,” Unilever Brands Manager Fareshteh Aslam responded to the question, “but there has been a trend of even winners not bothering to put in an appearance and it makes one wonder if they deserve to be nominated? Should Pakistan’s awam spend time voting for them? Not everyone understands the spirit of the awards. The year one is asked to perform you can state your fee. But to say we will charge a fee to attend degrades the essence of an Awards show, which basically is to recognise and reward excellence. It’s understandable in some cases like Qurat ul Ain or Cybil who were traveling this year but it’s those who are repeatedly uncooperative like Atif, Strings or Noman Ejaz that one wonders about.”