Turning up the heat on the Lux Style Awards
In terms of high voltage drama, this year’s Lux Style Awards went up in flames as Shaan and Iman Ali went head to head on stage, Ali Azmat sparked off distaste with his crass sense of humour and short circuiting sent out smoke signals from an actual backstage fire! By Aamna Haider Isani
The ground reality is that this year’s Lux Style Awards were the most disappointing yet. They were initially meant to be a black tie affair in solidarity with the constant crisis the country is in, but as time approached, the ceremony had grown into a show that was much smaller than what the LSAs have come to be associated with and yet much bigger than what was originally planned. The result: an event that was neither here nor there.
The show itself was marred by mismanagement, interrupted by constant hiccups thanks to last minute changes in the program, delayed and stretched to 3 am despite the actual program being short enough to be wrapped up in an hour. The seventh annual Lux Style Awards, held at the Golf Club in Karachi, bubbled down to an evening that reflected more as a ‘function’, a private event or even a wedding, which was all too affected by undercurrents of bad vibes, personal likes and dislikes and complete chaos because of good old-fashioned bad management.
The evening was disappointing but it wasn’t a disaster; there were enough fiery moments to save it from being that. In fact, in terms of high voltage drama, the 7th Lux Style Awards were fiery with a capital ‘F’. The LSAs this year were built upon a bed of controversies, boycotts and threats of cancellation; they were presented amidst flaming hot exchanges on stage as well as a fire burning backstage and they were followed by the usual round of rants and raves. It was a loaded round!
The horror and the humour:
The horror of the show went way beyond logistical goof ups. Ali Azmat was back behind the podium as emcee but his jokes seemed a little more personal than they were funny. He was out of control and at times it appeared that the stage had become his personal space, used to take the mickey out of anyone he so desired to. While he did praise newcomers Zeb and Haniya, there was no need for him to pull Fakhir’s leg in such an embarrassing (albeit hilarious as watching someone get ridiculed is always funny) way. Fakhir was obviously not prepared for the verbal assault in which Ali called him a “pretty boy” followed by a jibe that Fakhir was dressed like a waiter or rather a joker. “The waiters want their clothes back,” Ali said, followed by, “Hey I’m acting like a joker and you’re dressed like one.” The humour fell into bad taste as Ali repeated the crass jokes, taking digs at all and sundry, Pakistan included. No where in the world will comedians crack jokes running their own country down to the ground but apparently Mr Azmat was above all that.
It all became way too offensive and continued with Shaan later taking Ali a peg down for cracking unpatriotic jokes.
All LSA photography by Faisal Farooqu:
Apparently Shaan and Ali had a tiff at rehearsals where Ali Azmat started tearing Lollywood apart in his characteristically crude way. What one witnessed was a karaoke type stand up comedy that was more suited to a shanky nightclub but not to a ceremony like the LSAs. Humour is necessary to make these ceremonies work – Shah Rukh Khan and Saif Ali Khan put people in fits of laughter at the Filmfare Awards in India – but that humour shouldn’t be at the expense of pulling the stars down. The audience was left between cringing and giggling embarrassedly. These bad vibes prevailed throughout the show, making way for the ultimate Shaan-Iman Ali showdown at the end.
Between the absent Shoaib Mansoor, Shaan and Iman Ali, it was three way warfare with poor Fawad Khan stepping in as referee. The animosity that Shoaib and Iman have against Shaan is no secret; they have all been making public statements about it but the last episode was absolutely cringe worthy. Shaan should not have taken the LSAs as a platform to tear Shoaib Mansoor down but then again Shoaib Mansoor should have given him the respect he deserves as the hero of his film. Mr Mansoor had apparently requested that Iman and Fawad receive his award for Best Film and not Shaan. Iman then further provoked Shaan by telling Fawad that ‘he’ was the best part of the film, indicating that Shaan got the award instead as “there was a bias”.
Eager to act the mediator, Fawad called Shaan on stage to “complete the picture” and that was just the cue Shaan needed to start tearing Shoaib Mansoor down. Once again, people in the audience could be seen looking everywhere but at the stage. In a way, Shaan’s tirade was more unpatriotic than Ali Azmat’s cheap jokes. If you’re part of a film that has won praise all over the world, then as an actor you promote that film and your team; you don’t “go home and feed your dog” as Shaan clarified he did. Between Shoaib Mansoor’s absence (he always gets away with his public image of being reclusive though he should have been there to receive his award), Iman Ali’s pettiness and Shaan’s egotistical monologue, one was left in an uncomfortable situation. If these are our top stars, then God help the industry from self destructing!
Bridging the great divide:
All that said, in no way could Pakistan’s so-called stars take away from the moments of glory, glory that belonged entirely to the younger stars in the making, like Fawad Khan, for instance.
Fawad was clearly the show stopper as he danced with Saeen Zahoor to the tune of ‘Allah Hoo’ (from the Khuda Kay Liye soundtrack) and as Atif Aslam and Shehzad Roy joined the iconic sufi folk singer Reshma and collaborated with her on the hugely famous ‘Lambi Judai’ and ‘Chori Chori’. These are songs which were picked up by the Indian film industry almost two decades ago, when the Pakistani pop industry was non existent. One was taken for blockbuster Jackie Shroff’s debut film Hero (1983), and the other adapted to Dimple Kapadia’s Lekin (1990) as ‘Yaara Seeli Seeli’, And now as Pakistani music looms large over Bollywood, it was absolutely heartening to see the generations coming together in acknowledgement of each other.
Watching Fawad Khan in his western avatar, grooving next to the whirling dervish Saeen Zahoor dressed in folk magnificence, was also a sight for sore eyes. The impact of the two coming together was strong, almost soul stirring. And it sent out a very strong message as to where entertainment in Pakistan should be heading. It’s all about paying tribute to legends – something the LSAs have set the trend for by giving importance to Mehdi Hassan, Naheed Akhtar, Runa Laila and now Reshma – as well as building new stars. And it’s as much about creating the right links.
When the Lux Style Awards started way back in 2002, their future was uncertain and critics predicted the show would pack up within a few years. Pakistan simply didn’t have enough star quotient to carry them through, they believed. But over the years the LSAs have helped make stars just as much as they have helped keep the older ones in the spotlight. And this is one of their biggest achievements.
And so this year’s LSAs also paved the way for new talent, talent that is soaring new heights these days. Jal walked away with three awards – for Song of the Year and Album of the Year while sharing the spotlight with the hugely talented Bilal Lashari, who had directed the video of ‘Sajni’, for Best Video of the Year. Former winners of this category, video directors Saqib Mailk and Asim Reza sat in the front and clapped him on, which once again meant a lot in terms of encouragement and industry building. The Jal boys were of course ecstatic, even thanking Atif Aslam in their acceptance speech though it wasn’t clear whether they were being sarcastic or simply thanking him in good faith.
Later the boys – Atif and Jal – performed live at the end of the show. And despite bagging three awards, Jal were totally overshadowed by Atif Aslam going live but they sat through the performance in good spirit. The crowd went hysterical with delight as Atif belted out the massively popular ‘Pehli Nazar Mein’ and the Jal boys applauded with great dignity.
In fashion, Maheen Karim, Rizwan-ul Haq and Rabia Butt won awards for Best Pret, Best Photographer and Best Emerging Talent respectively. To witness the industry actually acknowledge talent this green is indicative of how visions are broadening. Seven years ago, pr