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LSA, come what may

The 16th annual Lux Style Awards, held in collaboration with GEO TV, unravel as the single biggest gathering of talent from across multiple industries and while the show must always go on, it may want to rethink a few things next year.

LSA, come what may
Mahira Khan, rapping about her life and times opposite one Osman Khalid Butt, owned the stage and showed a side we rarely get to see.


The most recent edition of the Lux Style Awards, a celebration of 16 years of existence, held at the Expo Centre in Karachi earlier this month, conjuredmoments of infinite joy, unprecedented surprisesas well as sporadic lulls. Recognizing and rewarding talent in the fields of music, television, film and fashion, it remains in many ways the single biggest gathering of talent from across multiple industries under one roof. The proverbial red carpet is rolled out, the stars and the artists begin to roll in and as they take their trophies, they also take their rightful place in cultural history.

Many years from now, when we look back at these ceremonies and the victors (to whom go the spoils), we will retrieveforgotten momentsthat will enable usto feel gratitude. For these are the artists who possess that unique abilitythat can move us in ways nothing else can; they are a silver lining at a time when life in this country is surrounded by never-ending grief, both spoken and unspoken.

Designed from birth to be an inclusive platform,the newest edition of the LSAs, though not without significant blemishes,was meant to be a showcase of not just the enormous potential of the entertainment scene but also a reflection on the growth of industries and what it means for the future.Apart from the performances, the sketches, the stars, the acceptance speeches, the wins and losses, this year’s edition was an admission that change is not just inevitable but perhaps necessary.

However, the concluded LSA ceremony, also raisedmany questionsthat remain unanswered. While some questions have echoed through the years, others have emergedonly now.

The show itself….

Our story, however, begins on a blazing Wednesday afternoon from the Expo Centre in Karachi that played home to the ceremony and was transformed into a swanky space.

Unlike past editions, this particular LSAbegan with a high tea at 3: 30 pm but it was ill-attendedas most people started pouring in an hour later. Perhaps next time, dropping the ‘high-tea’ part of the plan would be a better call. By 5: 30 pm, the razzmatazz had begun and the red carpet was buzzing with stars who posed for photographers, gave soundbites to the clamoring press and reveled in their shining moment.

The night began probably an hour later, which meant that by midnight proceedings had finished in entirety and a new standard was set that must be repeated every year from here on for the sake of respect for time and those who take the stage as performers.

Hits and Misses

Every version of the Lux Style Awards is peppered with a series of star-based performances, comedy sketches that are placed in between the announcement of the nominations and winnersby presenters who are all members of one fraternity or another within the entertainment circle. There is an opening act and there is a closing one and in between are many more star-fueled collaborations that are unveiled to impress and captivate the audience.

This year’s version, in that sense, was no different. One saw Atif Aslam take the stage as the opening act. On a raised platform stood Aslam, the country’s most revered modern-age singer-songwriter, accompanied by dozens of young girls and boys who surrounded the stage and stood in the colours of the national flag. In unison they presented a rendition of the national anthem as the screen behind them presented a montage with images of national icons like the late Moin Akhtar and the late Junaid Jamshed. As the images submerged into the flag, so began the long night.

Osman Khalid Butt, dressed as a pilot, joined by Mariam Saleem Nawaz and Faiza Saleem as airhostesses, presented an openingpre-recorded sketch that welcomed the audience on the LSA flight and made timely references to Instagram, hashtags, hiding envy when you don’t win and somebody else does and tilting when faced with giant hairdos.  This trio had everyone amused for the duration of their sketch that gave a tongue-in-cheek reference to United Airlines that made global news for its mistreatment of passengers before adding things like if you win, don’t forget to rub your award in someone else’s face because after all that is exactly the point of this night.

This was followed by Atif Aslam’s return once more, only this time, he was accompanied by dancers. Aslam presented a medley of his hits, from the past and present, redone in slicker versions, with beats in tow.

The only real issue here is that Aslam, though full of self-belief, cannot dance and the whole performance bordered on awkward. The edgy music needed electric choreography. During this long performance, Aslam was joined on stage, first by SomeWhatSuper boys for about a minute, maybe longer and later on by Mooroo, who sang bits of Atif Aslam’s breakthrough hit, ‘Who Lamhey/Bheegi Yaadein’. Aima Baig, another music nominee, also joined Aslam briefly in this segment. Unfortunately, their appearance on stage was so very short, particularly Mooroo’s, that it barely registered. It was, in many ways, like the Atif Aslam show since he went on to host portions of the show, preformed a perfect musical mimicry of Ali Zafar, Umair Jaswal and Sajjad Ali and served as the closing act of the night with a tribute to the late Junaid Jamshed.

Aslam will generate ratings when the LSAsmake it to air and in the aftermath of the show, both SomeWhatSuper and Mooroo took to their social media accounts to thank the pop-star for sharing the stage with them so maybe it wasn’t so bad after all. But this kind ofexcessive pandering to huge stars needs to be curbed.

The second major highpoint of the night arrived during a morning show-esque segment that featured Mahira Khan rapping about her life and times opposite one Osman Khalid Butt. The morning sequence basically tanked because it wasn’t funny until Khan began her rap and owned the stage.  Full credit goes to Khan for having the courage to do something so very different.

Patari Tabeer wonder boy Abid Brohi is a fierce talent who needed a stage as big as the LSAs. His performance enchanted one and all, much like his debut single, 'The Sibbi Song’.

Patari Tabeer wonder boy Abid Brohi is a fierce talent who needed a stage as big as the LSAs. His performance enchanted one and all, much like his debut single, ‘The Sibbi Song’.

Similarly, Ali Zafar and Maya Ali, who will star together in an upcoming film called Teefa in Trouble, took centerstage in what was easily the most obscure performance of the night. With a sword in one hand and supporting long hair, Zafar dropped his contemporary ways for something much more rustic. This display of sheer romance followed by death is the perfect representation of what follows love in many parts of this country. The gladiator-channeling effort certainly provided a much-needed respite from predictability.

Other highpoints included the coming together of the past and the present, as Reema Khan joined Mawra Hocane and together they swayed toto the divine rhythm of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.

Jimmy Khan, Ali Sethi, Zoe Viccaji and Patari Tabeer wonderboy Abid Brohi also took the stage and added their individual flair to proceedings with their beautiful songs. Giving Abid Brohi a space right next to these industry icons was a brilliant move. Brohi’s fierce talent needed a stage as big as this and it enchanted us all much like his debut song.

In addition, Ahsan Khan who picked up an award for Best Actor (Udaari) reminded us that there is a social responsibility facing artists and they must rise to the challenge. His mention of Mashal Khan was a reminder that far beyond the structure of sanity lies dreadful hate and violence and we must stand against it.

Tina Sani, who picked up the Unilever Lifetime Achievement Award, not only recounted her journey which began 37 years ago but also revealed how she relies on inspiration and intuition because that’s where art comes from. Apart from thanking her father in a poignant speech, she also left us with some wisdom when she said: “All of you are artists, and you know what I mean. Inspiration. You have the power to inspire.” Similarly, Tariq Amin was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award for his work in fashion. He made an emotional acceptance speech, preluded by a very articular tribute from the President of the Jang Group, Imran Aslam, who summed up Amin’s creativity in a weave of equally beautiful words.

One must also add that the stage looked brilliant and the graphics that accompanied the night were sharp and looked like we do know what to do with technology.

What didn’t work

The script, penned by Osman Khalid Butt, faltered in places. While the first half had its fair share of comedic moments, by the second half, things had become seriously dull. You can’t be completely impervious to LSA’s illustrious history or you won’t know how to raise the bar further.

In past editions, we have seen Ahmed Ali Butt, Vasay Chaudhry, Yasir Hussain and the men from The Four Man Show–bring the funny.The big doze of humour, seen in past shows meant that comparison, this night had many gaps.

It should also be noted that not everyone, despite their immeasurable starpower, is cut out to be host. Atif Aslam is one clear example.He is a singer and a powerful one at that but a host he is not.

Furthermore, the funny moments were not evenly spaced throughout the night so the absolute high point was followed by a significant lull. And despite the presence of stars like Bilal Ashraf, Ali Kazmi, Nouman Ijaz, the absence of Fawad Khan, Fahad Mustafa, Humayun Saeed and the controversial Hamza Ali Abbasi was palpable.

The Lux Style Awards are designed to cater to a TV audience and with the right editing, it should come across as a smooth night of entertainment. But in the aftermath of this evening, the Lux Style Awards office needs to decide where whether they need to embrace popular choice completely or go the critics route all the way. This balancing act, where the jury votes, industry experts vote and the public votes, has not generated any goodwill.

Some artists believe that the show is simply a space where industry members get together but they neither understand the criteria for winning nor do they accept its credibility. No integrity is placed on these awards by the entertainment after all these years of trying to be as transparent.

A better and simpler way to go about things would be to follow one of the two ways: follow the People’s Choice Awards method which lets fans decide on nominees and winners all the way or go the Academy Award route and let only the jury members decide. Either way, the LSAs must take a stand and let things fall where they may.

-         The 16th annual Lux Style Awards will be aired on GEO TV on May 20, 2017.


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