By Maliha Rehman
This year’s Lux Style Awards (LSA) event wasn’t like your usual awards ceremony.
The stage was set, there was music and dance and plenty of awards results that took people by surprise. It was the LSA platform’s 20th year in the business of promoting fashion and entertainment and preparations had been made for a grandiose, entertaining show. There were well-choreographed performances, poignant tributes and a very well-written script courtesy Filmwala Pictures’ Nabeel Qureshi and Fizza Ali Meerza. A hilarious comic segment was delivered by YouTube sensation Tabish Hashmi and hosting duties were shared between Ahmed Ali Butt, Ahsan Khan, Mansha Pasha and Mehwish Hayat, who were all glib, frequently witty and just generally very likeable.
You’ll see all that on TV when the show gets aired.
What you won’t see is the making of the LSA’s. With Covid caution being a priority, this year’s LSA was a recorded show seen by a very limited live audience. There were sequences that were filmed on repeat so that they would look just right for TV and ‘links’ introducing segments long after the segment had been staged.
“We’re rolling!” show director Frieha Altaf would announce again and again from the control box and the performers on stage would spring into action. This managed to make the show over-long, with plenty of repeats, ironing out of glitches and the stage getting mopped up quickly before the next segment.
It also made the ceremony intimate, allowing a glimpse into the making of one of the country’s most prestigious awards events. The off-screen banter and behind-the-scenes glimpses are what made the LSA’s unique this time and for the awards aficionado, it was fun. A lot of it, of course, will get ironed out for TV …
Frieha Altaf in the control room
Frieha Altaf and LSA’s TV director Nadeem J steered the ceremony from one sequence to the other, in an extensive jigsaw puzzle that they will eventually have to string together into one long show. It was a long, exhausting night but the control room was buzzing, with directives constantly reverberating through the auditorium.
“This is the first time that my performers are changing in the audience rather than backstage,” Frieha quipped once, when Ahmed Ali Butt was changing jackets, switching from host duties to performing on the Parey Hut Love song Hai Dil Bechara.
“Find it from backstage and bring it!” she ordered when the guitar that was going to be used by Ahmed wasn’t around. “It’s just one prop, honestly.”
Much later in the night, actor Imran Ashraf Awan came on stage to announce the Best TV Drama Writer but he didn’t have the card announcing the result. “Can someone give him a card? Why’s everyone on a break?” Frieha admonished from her vantage point.
It was hard, grueling work but regardless, the performances came out beautifully. Mahira Khan, particularly, was a vision on stage, dancing very well alongside Sheheryar Munawar, Ahmed Ali Butt and Meera to songs from the soundtrack of Parey Hut Love. “Brilliant!” Frieha enthused, right after Mahira had concluded twirling to ‘More Saiyaan’.
Yumna Zaidi’s award confusion
Most people were pretty sure that one of the Best Actress trophies would come Yumna Zaidi’s way considering that she is one of the finest actresses in Pakistan. The odds were in Yumna’s favor too since she had received a whopping three nominations; Best Female Actor Critics for her role in Pyar ke Sadqay and Best Female Actor Viewer’s Choice for her role in Pyar ke Sadqay and also in the drama Raaz-e-Ulfat.
It all became a tad confusing for Yumna. When her name was announced as the winner, she came on stage and asked the hosts, ‘For?’ “’Pyar ke Sadqay’,” she was informed. “Ladies and gentleman, Yumna has been nominated for so many plays,” quipped the host.
Yumna, of course, went on to win another award later: the Viewer’s Choice trophy for Pyar ke Sadqay yet again.
Danish Taimoor’s surprise win
Many expected one of the LSA trophies for Best Actor to go to Ahad Raza Mir. The actor was nominated an impressive four times – for his performances in dramas Yeh Dil Mera and Ehd-e-Wafa in both the Best Actor Critics and Best Actor Viewer’s Choice categories.
Many were certainly surprised when the Best Actor Viewer’s Choice award went to Danish Taimoor for his performance in the drama Deewangi. Unarguably, Deewangi had been a huge hit and was, in fact, one of last year’s top-rated dramas. Nevertheless, Danish hadn’t turned up at the LSA’s and Ahad Raza Mir was seated in the audience. It was generally assumed that Ahad would win.
Driving home the element of the surprise was actress Resham, who was announcing the award winner on stage along with Meera. ‘Ahad Raza Mir bethay hain, bohot acha kaam kartay hain; Imran Ashraf kee toh mein bohot bari fan hoon, lekin award deeya jar aha hai yahan par Danish Taimoor ko for Deewangi,” she said.
That’s shade being thrown at the winner and not exactly in a subtle way. A lot of Danish Taimoor’s fans took to social media to criticize Resham and there’s a chance that her little speech will get snipped off in the editing room.
The cheering for Adnan Samad Khan
The Emerging Talent in TV category this year was clustered with some heavy duty names but taking home the trophy was Adnan Samad Khan, for his role as the befuddled Gulzar in the drama Ehd-e-Wafa. He was evidently a popular choice amongst the audience. Ahad Raza Mir, his co-actor in Ehd-e-Wafa, stood up to clap for him and Imran Ashraf Awan wolf-whistled in appreciation.
Resham, Meera and a slice of Lollywood politics
The organizers probably knew that they were in for the good ol’ fashioned Lollywood diva treatment when they decided to take veteran film sirens, Meera and Resham on-board. Still, how could they not include these longtime Lux girls in their montage? Mehwish Hayat and Mahira Khan represented the more recent contingent of Lux brand ambassadors while Meera and Resham represented the past, when old-school Lollywood was still in its heydays.
But when you group two yesteryear heroines together, sometimes it can get tricky. It lead to umpteen delays where Meera would disappear, only coming on to set several hours later. While on stage during a comic segment, Meera got very visibly upset. She had evidently forgotten her lines, which Resham had reportedly not practiced with her. Also, at one point where Meera was supposed to sing, Resham sang instead. That’s enough to get a girl riled!
Still, you can’t tell all this from what filtered on to social media. Resham and Meera selfied together, declared each other to be ‘fabulous’ and even traveled together two days later back to their homes in Lahore. A catfight – or a bit of sobbing and disagreement in this case – at an awards ceremony is no big deal after all.
And in Lollywood, the heroines may fight and snap at each other but it usually does boil down to a happy ending.
The costumes that worked
Designer Nomi Ansari created the costumes for the main dance performances and I hope that the televised version of the LSA’s does justice to how beautiful the outfits were. My favorite was the emerald green anarkali that Mahira Khan wore in her ‘More Saiyaan’ performance. Cameras flashed as Mahira twirled magnificently – I do think that those pictures encapsulate one of the most magical LSA moments from this year.
The glittering anarkali was composed of 36 panels in order to provide extra flare and was worked with Swarovskis and stones.
The rest of the costumes also blended in color and bling, which is always so important for a stage performance. Mehwish Hayat wore a black bodysuit with multicolored embroidery, Meera wore apple green with multicolored embroidery while Resham and Ahsan Khan, in their ode to Farida Khanum, played matchy in turquoise.
According to Nomi, the costumes took about four weeks to get ready with his workshop operating all through the night. The effort showed.
A word of appreciation for the scriptwriters
One of the main factors upping the ante for this year’s LSA was the script. Pakistani awards shows in the past have often suffered at the hands of haphazard scripting, put together by a group of writers. This year, the wise decision was made to have the script written entirely by Filmwala Pictures’ Nabeel Qureshi and Fizza Ali Meerza leading to monologues that flowed seamlessly, peppered with plenty of humor. Nabeel and Fizza, of course, have a penchant for writing. They are two of the country’s most acclaimed filmmakers and have always written the scripts for their movies. Turns out, writing scripts for awards shows is another talent that they have.