It’s was the best of times, it was the worst of times and it’s almost over… 2013 was a year of turmoil as Pakistan stepped into the 21st century boldly and bloodily, with much debate, daggers drawn and ruthless competition. But then it is so much more hardcore now and will become increasingly more so, so brace yourself and do your thing, your way – the way these individuals did. These are Instep’s Magnificent Seven for 2013, the most influential people around and the ones we have the most fun watching…
They came, she saw, she rebelled, she wrote, she got shot, she survived and went on to write I Am Malala that continues to dominate bestseller lists around the world. While the 16 year old’s memoir as penned by controversial journalist Christina Lamb has come under fire from many a quarter, the fact is that her story is out there as is she. Instigating a much needed debate at home and winning admiration around the globe, this young girl is on a roll like no other Pakistani teen has ever been. Her rousing speech at the United Nations was telecast round the world and dominated all talk for weeks, till she didn’t win the Nobel Peace Prize. But really, that’s just like Peter O’ Toole never winning an Oscar – completely irrelevant. And yes, we do realize that it is very clichéd now to begin the list with Malala Yousafzai, but how could we not. She’s featured in lists around the world and no matter where you went in Pakistan this year, whether people were for her or against her, young Malala Yousafzai was everywhere in spirit – challenging, changing, charming us, like few manage to do.
If there is anyone who has pushed the boundaries of what being a Pakistani pop icon means, it has to be Ali Zafar. With breakthrough films behind him, he had the box office smash David Dhawan’s Chashme Baddoor remake to his credit this year. With no Bollywood uber star in the film, apart from perhaps Rishi Kapoor, the film went on to make around 50 crore rupees at the box office. No, it wasn’t in the 100 crore league, Ali Zafar’s 2012′s Mere Brother Ki Dulhan almost made it there… almost, but it was declared a box office success. Next year will be big for Ali Zafar who has two films lined up – one a solo hero rom-com called Total Siyapaa and the other a two hero Yash Raj Films project Kill Dil which sees him starring with hot off Ram Leela, Ranveer Singh. Ali Zafar is writing all the lyrics and composing music for Total Siyaapa, something he also did with the charming London Paris New York. Music is his first love and he’s not letting go of that. Meanwhile we’re loving mapping his journey and wondering who will follow in his footsteps across the border… only Humaima Malick is somewhat close… somewhat being the operative word.
If Ali Zafar has won hearts and minds in India through sheer talent, dedication and hard work across the border, then Rohail Hyatt has managed to do the same through Coke Studio. Year after year since Coke Studio began here, its sublime melodies went around the world resonating naturally with Indians more than any other nation. They began their own Coke Studio, which is getting better as time goes by, but even so, Rohail Hyatt remains a master of mixing and throwing the unexpected together. Be it pairing Arif Lohar with Meesha Shafi, Noori with Saeen Zahoor, Atif Aslam with Umair Jaswal and his band Qayaas or this year setting Zeb and Haniya up for the delightfully jazzy ‘Laili Jaan’ with musicians from round the world — at his best, Rohail Hyatt dares to go to places most music producers wouldn’t even have heard of. Winning kudos from round the world and being hotly debated each year at home, Coke Studio remains a winner in the world of sound.
The undisputed top cat of the cinema business in Pakistan, 2013 was a year when Nadeem Mandviwalla really went all out. As his flagship Atrium cinemas, which has the Mandviwalla stamp all over it, went from strength to strength, he continued to manage and run screens around the country. But that’s old hat for Nadeem – he’s been there, done that and better than anybody else. While at one point, Lollywood walas loathed him for being a staunch supporter of opening Indian films in Pakistan, he is also the distributor who ensures films like Life of Pi and The Great Gatsby make it to cinemas in Pakistan. And this year, via The Platform that he is involved with, his
company brought Made in Pakistan films like Waar and Main Hoon Shahid Afridi to the big screen along with smaller films like Josh and Lamha; next up, Jamshed ‘Jami’ Mahmood’s highly anticipated Moor in 2014. When it comes to the the rebirth of Pakistani cinema, Nadeem Mandviwalla remains its undisputed godfather.
With the opening of two Khaadi stores in the very mainstream, top of the line Westfield malls in London, Shamoon Sultan entered an exciting new phase of his career. Referred to by other designers as “the man with the business model”, he has now officially left them very far behind in the game with 40 plus outlets and counting i
n Pakistan and around the world. While the Westfield mall stores were launched with little fanfare, they definitely created a buzz here and in London. This is the man who, while talking to Instep some years ago about not going personally to the Pret a Porter in Paris to hook up with buyers, had commented, “I don’t want to hook up with buyers, I want to open Khaadi in Paris!” With two stores in London, he is a step closer to his dream; after all, with the Eurostar running under the English Channel, Paris is merely 2 hours away…
And the women with the business model are taking the Khaadi route… in their own way. Sana Safinaz had a ’wham, bam, slam – repeat’ kind of a year with shop opening upon shop opening – Dolmen Mall, Lahore, Bahadurabad, Ocean Mall even as they showed at every credible fashion week in both Karachi and Lahore. Their unstitched lawn, silk and chiffon joras continue to be stocked at outlets around the country and their black and white bridal collection won applause all around, keeping those orders coming in. If this was them simply starting to play the retail field, we can’t wait to see what happens as they pick up speed.
If Nadeem Mandviwalla is the godfather of cinema, then Sehyr Saigol further consolidated her position as the godmother of fashion. With both of PFDC’s fashion weeks – prêt sponsored by Sunsilk and bridal couture by L’Oreal Paris – goin
g from strength to strength every year. This time round, they were better than ever as a large number of designers from Karachi chose to show there. Khaadi had always been a PFDC fashion week feature but this year Sana Safinaz, Shehla Chatoor, Misha Lakhani, Nomi Ansari, photographer/printman Tapu Javeri and Wardha Saleem all took to PFDC runways nullifying the historic bad blood and giving the industry its strongest fashion weeks ever. When it comes to the show business of fashion in Pakistan, no one does it like the PFDC and it’s clear that Sehyr Saigol is the one who orchestrates and sets the scene like no one has before.