“You’re fifteen minutes late and Quinn’s not even in the building. One day in Pakistan and you’re running on third world time?” the CIA chief accuses Carrie Mathison of lateness in the pilot of Homeland Season 4. Mathison, for those of you who haven’t or don’t follow Homeland, has just been stationed as CIA Bureau Chief in Islamabad, Pakistan. There’s a lot to dwell on there but now is not the time.
Indiscipline, tardiness and being late are considered part of the third world DNA and we’re prime examples of the flaw. Take the recently concluded PFDC L’Oreal Paris Bridal Week as an example. Or hold up any fashion week in Pakistan as example, for that matter. The schedule is atrocious to begin with – globally fashion weeks are all-day proceedings whereas in Pakistan they are gala events, moonlighting as evening entertainment. At New York Fashion Week the last show may begin at 9pm but in Pakistan the first will commence at 8pm (if you’re lucky) and the entire lineup will conclude well into the darkness of the night. How many HSY shows have we left feeling like Cinderella turning into a grouchy pumpkin (yes, yes I know it was the carriage that turned to a pumpkin!)? In worse case scenarios, which are recurrent, the last show will begin after midnight. As it did this time on Day 2 of the PLBW 2014, for the Ali Xeeshan finale.
It’s something internationally acclaimed fashion commentator Hilary Alexander even tweeted about when she visited the PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week in Lahore two years ago. Should have been a cause for shame and correction, but no.
Before fashion weeks started in Pakistan, way back in 2008, a workshop was conducted in Karachi by IMG Asia Pacific head (at that time), Simon P. Lock. His first and foremost advice to Pakistan was to get the timing right. I still remember that he instructed the councils to win an advantage in this region by creating a disciplined schedule and a punctual execution. It seemed like something very simple but time has proven the task to be too monumental to get right.
Late shows are a problem I have personally addressed and I finally decided not to write about or cover any show beginning after (a very generous) 11pm. As policy fashion weeks need to begin within working hours; they are work. Councils insist fashion weeks are organized to facilitate the business of fashion but I seriously don’t know what kind of business is conducted after-hours. Or actually we all do know. And it’s not very respectable.
Award shows are no better; in fact they’re much worse. One wonders that if the Academy Awards can begin at 6pm and run on time then why must our local award shows have to be all-nighters? The unfortunate part is that the best part of every show is saved for the end. With the end beginning past one or two in the morning, most people have left by then and honorees are left with an empty audience to address. Agreed that award shows are generally conducted for television viewing and timing makes no monumental difference to the ultimate popularity of the show but let’s have some respect for the ground crowd.
Starting the show late may be better than not starting it all. Which brings us to the epitome of delays, the Lux Style Awards. While award shows all over the world are scheduled within the first three months of the year (to keep the best of the previous year fresh in mind) the LSAs encounter innumerable delays and happen all over the year, usually mid summer or even later. This year takes the cake for delays; it’s mid-October and there’s no sign of an event or even a gala dinner, which serves as saving grace in the absence of better planning. Will the LSAs even take place this year? Apparently they will, but we’ll get to that later.
Forget award shows; we can’t even release movies on time. Pick up any Pakistani release – Dukhtar, 021 or Na Maloom Afraad being the most recent examples – and you’ll witness a trajectory of delays. Compare that to Bollywood. Movies usually release per schedule so I was shocked to read that Happy New Year’s release date had been postponed until I discovered that it had been pushed A DAY in honour of the auspicious Laxmi Puja on Diwali. Hollywood is another story altogether; film dates and schedules are announced years in advance. We can already anticipate Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, scheduled to release on March 25, 2016. In Pakistan you can never be sure until the very last day whether a film will release on time or not and while we love to blame it on hungami haalaat, the situation crises have, in fact, turned out to be the perfect scapegoat for lack of discipline.
Delays are directly proportionate to celebrities and the VIP culture. Meera, in her hey days, would turn up at 3pm for an 11am makeup call. Humaima Malick, even today, has trouble making it anywhere on time. She recently missed her flight and had to be written out of the Sana Safinaz grand finale at PLBW. It’s not the first time she’s missed a flight or appointment. Case in point: whether actor or politician, model or musician, designer or director, if there’s a celebrity in the picture you can easily block a couple of hours as margin of delay.
Bottom line: Missed deadlines are failed opportunities. Delays are impressions lost. Fashionably late is a phrase that needs to be reinterpreted. It’s time to take things up and change. When Shahrukh Khan appeared two hours late for a press conference in Chennai, the media walked out. When a Marc Jacobs’ show ran two hours late, fashion critic Suzy Menkes infamously wrote: “I would like to murder him with my bare hands and never see another Marc Jacobs show in my entire life.” She gave the show a terrible review. And closer to home, more recently, when Rehman Malik showed up (while holding up) a flight for several hours the passengers booed him off and didn’t allow him to board.
Frankly speaking, we don’t care if a celebrity has to keep his/her audience waiting to pump up the anticipation before a concert. We don’t care if some tight-ass VIP chipped her acrylic nail and couldn’t make it to a fashion show on time. And we certainly don’t care for the adage ‘we’re on Pakistan time’ to excuse a delay. It’s time things started happening on time!