This year’s event – a 15th year celebration for the LSAs – came with a fair share of snubs and surprises. The awards, always fodder for controversy, packed some punches that no one could have predicted. Many winners who, until now, had only seen winning dreams in their coffee with little potential of them turning into reality actually walked away with the trophy. But oh well, dreams do come true and not necessarily through ‘dhandli’ as many cynics, skeptics and mostly losers have been suggesting.
Some wins came as a delightful surprise but most left people enraged, fuelling social media scandals. Smaller films nudged bigger, bolder and flashier ones out of the competition, much to the audience’s gasps and though this once again put LSAs’ credibility into question, the uncertainty surrounding it all followed by the genuine finale shocker made for a befitting end to the months-long race. As we look back to the night that passed on with more incident, chatter and cheers than the D-Chowk dharna, here are our collective thoughts on the twists and turns we felt over its course.
Faraz Manan and Generation edge out LSA favourites
The fashion awards were delivered with some unpredictable hiccups that weren’t so easy to get over. It was a relief to see the industry grow beyond the Sana Safinaz-Khaadi-Sania Maskatiya trio of favourites and get recognized at the platform; contrary to earlier allegations, the winners were also well balanced between Karachi and Lahore. But even in this seemingly fair segment, the choices were not all quite justified.
Given Faraz Manan’s regional expansion in the past year, he sure was an apt choice for Achievement in Fashion Design – Bridal Wear but not so much for lawn. Kareena Kapoor has undoubtedly been the brand’s lucky mascot but even then, Faraz Manan lawn’s popularity and sales have not managed to compete with those of Elan’s. Despite being in the business for over three years, Elan lawn remains the most anticipated among lawn fanatics with stock often running out during the pre-booking period only. In fact, lawn prints available on the website were sold out within hours of its launch. But even if aesthetics take over sales and popularity as criteria, the award did not belong to Manan. Sania Maskatiya’s return to the lawn industry in collaboration with Al Karam was a much more celebrated affair with prints that stood their own in terms of uniqueness and colour combinations.
Similar inconsistencies were seen across the Achievement in Fashion Design – Pret category but that had more to do with LSAs’ choice of date than anything else. It’s about time that the organizers move the event to some time earlier in the year because holding them six months after the year in question affects recall value. Voters are most likely to vote on the basis of the most recent achievement whereas the aim is to recognize those of the past year. This seems to be the only explanation for Generation’s unexpected win. The brand made a notable runway debut at PSFW’s high street segment with the I See You collection, which made it to stores right at the end of 2015, but the collection was not as groundbreaking as the ones that followed this year. It was 2016’s A Dot that went for A Walk collection that really upped the ante for the brand. The stereotype-defying Manjeet Diaries’ campaign was also 2016 and so was the unique Chintz range that made a runway appearance at the Daraz Fashion Week. Generation undoubtedly deserves an award for re-emerging as a trendsetter but perhaps more in 2017; this year’s award belonged to Sapphire.
Diyar-e-Dil takes home only 2 trophies…
There couldn’t have been a bigger snub than this. Last year’s most popular television series took home only 2 trophies and while those victories, for Best Television Play and Best Original Soundtrack, were not so insignificant, it was surprising that the drama did not sweep the remaining categories. Splitting it with the likes of Rang Laga was the least of all problems (not as popular as its contender; Rang Laga had enough meat in it for it to be recognized on a bigger platform) but watching Sadqay Tumhare win over Diyar-e-Dil made little to no sense.
It wouldn’t be wrong to say that the only reason why Mahira Khan won for Sadqay Tumhare was her growing popularity post Humsafar. Mahira had screen presence as the innocent Shano but in no way was she better than Maya Ali in Diyar-e-Dil. Similarly, a rather insignificant Aap Ki Kaneez appeared to be the least likely of the top three nominees yet it won one of the most important awards of the night for Best Television Director. Though it managed to prove that a nominee may not necessarily have an edge simply because it’s the frontrunner in the race, there is little substantial justification for its win. One really expected Diyar-e-Dil to be the least divisive of the nominations with far larger ‘love-it’ constituency among voters but the results were shocking to say the least.
Javed Sheikh won the Best Supporting Actor
With all due respect even Javed Sheikh would’ve been shocked at receiving this one. One was easily hoping that Ahmed Ali Butt’s nomination controversy would be enough to keep him in the voters’ minds even if the impact of his comic timing had diminished from memory.
Given the fact that this was a category that depended on public voting, it really made one question the public’s criteria for voting. Were they clicking away on the basis of the most relatable and popular name on the list or were they actually judging based on performances. The category listed some significantly mature performances from up and coming artists like Butt, Shaz Khan and Yasir Hussain over a diverse set of films that not only featured artistic, serious cinema but also commercial, masala potboilers, yet it seemed that experience and mass popularity won over talent. That’s not to say that Sheikh isn’t talented; he is one of the most celebrated veteran actors in the country, but just this once, other contenders were stronger and more deserving.
Moor walks away with the Best Film award
This was the final call to arms in an awards ceremony that was dominated by controversy from the get-go. While Jawani Phir Nahi Ani took away a fair share of trophies as predicted (and we don’t agree with Humayun Saeed’s Best Actor win either; it belonged to Sarmad Khoosat for Manto), it lost the Best Film award to, not Manto, but Moor in what was the most unlikely outcome of the evening. As shocking as the decision was, it instantly reminded one of this year’s Academy Awards and the beauty of uncertainty that comes with award shows – in a race that was led majorly by The Revenant and Mad Max: Fury Road, Tom McCarthy’s real-life drama Spotlight won proving that a film doesn’t need to win a lot of other awards to win the big one.
In Moor’s case, however, there is little evidence that suggests it was a consensus favourite. The film got mixed reviews from critics and it did not do exceptionally well at the box office either which brings us back to the LSAs criteria for judging. We are all aware of the existence of a jury but there is no information on who all is part of it and whether they are credible enough to have a say. It’s about time that the LSA team starts disclosing their names up on their website prior to the show so as to ensure greater transparency.
It’s not odd for there to be unpredictable outcomes at award shows – if Oscars can have them so can the LSAs – but it’s also not the first time that the awarding body has been accused of rigging. Hence, it’s in their best interest that the voting process be kept as transparent as possible.
Over all, these four jaw-dropping moments may have not been more than usual for the LSAs that ironically have been dealing with accusations of predictability and awarding favourites in the past and unpredictability this year, but they sure made for an enjoyable ride through an evening full of ups, downs and sidesteps.