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Everyone treasures a night full of glitz and glam and it’s a double treat if talented artists from your country are recognized on international ground. Pakistan International Screen Awards (PISA) made it possible in February 2020 when its first edition was held in the heart of Dubai, honouring Pakistani artists from several fields of entertainment including fashion, television, film and music. The ceremony, despite having teething problems in its adventurous debut, was a success as PISA gave fans in Dubai a chance to see Pakistan’s dazzling stars and their dynamic performances.

The excitement and anticipation of the second edition of PISA has been picking up pace for the past month and now is at an all-time high. The awards are scheduled to be held in Dubai at the gorgeous Madinat Jumeirah venue on November 5, 2021. A very credible jury was put in place this year and nominations for all 24 categories look great. Hosts and performances have been announced to much excitement (watch this space for a detailed curtain raiser) and all that’s left is for the event to actually happen and take Dubai by storm.


Faisal Khan with Javed Sheikh and Mani Liaqat, last year’s extremely entertaining host.


Faisal Khan, founder of the Pakistan International Screen Awards, spoke at length to Something Haute about his plans for the newly-established platform, the challenges he has faced so far in organizing a special evening like PISA and what can we expected from the gala night this year.

Talking about his motivation behind creating the Pakistan International Screen Awards in 2020, Faisal shared that “PISA is an extravagant, incredible and larger than life platform, where we admire and treasure real talent. PISA has been created with the sole purpose to celebrate and honour excellence in Pakistan’s fashion, film, television, music and digital content on a global scale.”

“After the success of the introductory event last year, we were motivated to advance with our second edition and fix the teething problems that we faced. We hope to establish PISA as an annual event, and while this year’s show is scheduled to take place in Dubai on November 5, we plan to take it to different locations around the world next year onwards. I promise you that PISA will get bigger and grander with every passing year. Despite the fact that cinemas were shut down due to the Covid-19 pandemic and therefore we have no films to celebrate for 2020, it was a big year for television as well as digital content, which became the natural outlet for artists. Music is a huge part of Pakistan’s pop culture and we saw all genres of musicians release music online, even if concerts were on a hold. And the same goes for fashion. Some of South Asia’s biggest names from entertainment, music and fashion come from Pakistan and fans can expect them all to be there for the show!”

What would you say is the USP of PISA? What makes it stand out amidst the already existing award shows in Pakistan?

Faisal Khan: “The intention was to build brand of Pakistan, and celebrate its creativity and culture on a global scale. Our television and music industries already enjoy an eminent global position; at PISA, we wanted to bring fashion and film under the international spotlight too. PISA stands out because of the level we’re playing at. Pakistani award shows held globally have not, until now, enjoyed a great reputation and are organised as mostly low budget events. We may have had issues last year but no one can deny the scale at which the event was held at the Coca Cola Arena, where artists like Beyonce and Justin Bieber are known to perform. Guests were given top notch hospitality at the Versace Hotel and no expense was spared.”

What measures have been taken to fix the problems you faced last year?

FK: “We have put better teams in place this year, delegating each segment of the show to credible and established experts. No one can challenge the credibility of our jury and the validity of this year’s nominations. The show flow looks great so far; we have a great lineup of fun acts. Travel was an issue last year but we have collaborated with credible travel partners in Pakistan and started the visa process well in advance. The logistics of organizing an event in COVID times is indeed a challenge, but we have waited for clearance from the UAE government to ensure smooth operations. The show will follow all SOPs, rules and regulations. We have already approached our nominees, presenters and performers to ensure that they are vaccinated and no last minute hiccups occur.”


Faisal Khan with Sajal Aly and Michele Morone at DIAFA 2020


Was it a conscious effort to create PISA for the South Asian community that follows Pakistan’s entertainment industry in the UAE, or do you plan to take PISA beyond Dubai in the future?

FK: “Pakistan’s fashion and entertainment stars have huge global following and ideally, we wanted to take PISA around the world, especially where there’s a South Asian diaspora that follows Pakistani dramas. Unfortunately, because of the pandemic, it was not advisable for us to get adventurous this year. Constantly changing travel advisories have made the situation very unpredictable, which is why we felt it would be safer and more convenient to have PISA’21 on home-ground, in Dubai. We do, however, have big plans for next year.”

Now that PISA’21 is just a few weeks away, what should fans expect from the second edition scheduled in November?

FK: “We have a great line-up of stars this year. Vasay Chaudhry and Yasir Hussain will be hosting the show, we have great performances by Mehwish Hayat and Sheheryar Munawar. Umair Jaswal will be performing his hit numbers as well as paying tribute to Farhad Humayun. Sajjad Ali will be performing. As with last year, we’ll have a surprise artist open the show with the National Anthem. We have confirmations from all the nominees, so anyone nominated can be expected to be there. It promises to be a great show.”

What is the thought behind appreciating and encouraging social media artists through PISA’s platform?

FK: “While artists from film and television have huge fanfare, it is both impossible and obsolete to ignore the mass following that digital content creators have. I think the categories in Digital Content are actually five of the most exciting and that’s both reinforced and reflected in the kind of traffic and hype the nominees are already building. We’re delighted to include the social media influencers at PISA.”

Accompanying the star power that any award show showcases on its red carpet, another cornerstone to make it a sure shot hit are the performances that viewers look forward to. The first edition of PISA saw many popular Pakistani stars; there was a heartfelt performance of the national anthem by Sarah Khan, Umair Jaswal set the stage on fire with his rocking performance. Ali Zafar, Momina Mustehsan, Bilal Saeed, Hareem Farooq amongst several others left the audience enthralled with their performances. From live songs to dance routine, PISA 2020 was brimming with energy and entertainment.

Are there any surprise performances or guests this year that fans should look forward to?

FK: “Fans from the Pakistani community in Dubai were one of the strongest part of our first event, last year. Their enthusiasm made the show ever more interactive and exciting and this year will be no different. These are fans who watch Pakistani TV and films, they listen to the music and they buy the music; they stay connected with their roots through the artistes and a show likes this brings them home for an evening. It is both emotional and exhilarating. I don’t want to reveal too much but they will get to see their favourite stars on the red carpet as well as at the show. Right from the point where Pakistan’s national anthem plays live at the venue, to the grand finale, I can promise it will be an unforgettable evening.”