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At their tenth anniversary there was an appreciation that the Lux Style Awards have come a long way but also an apprehension regarding which path they’ll be taking now.

Mathira has the moves and she got Bootylicious at the LSAs.

An event that was launched a decade ago to acknowledge excellence in Pakistan celebrated its tenth anniversary in a manner that did not quite justify the aplomb of the occasion. The tenth annual Lux Style Awards certainly had more moments than the show has had in the past three years but it did not out-do the magnificence of Malaysia (2007), as was expected and hoped for.

The evening rode entirely on the shoulders of the BNN (Banana News Network) boys, Meera and Reema. Mathira, Hassan Sheheryar Yasin, Aamina Sheikh and Mohib emerged as four entertainers to look out for on a starlit horizon. Tributes paid to the legendary Moin Akhtar and Mahnaaz plus the Lifetime Achievement awarded to Samina Ibrahim was appropriately poignant. But it wasn’t enough for a five-hour show to ride on, that too a show that started a good two hours late.

One remembers how magnificently Moin Akhter had spoofed fashion on this very platform back in 2003. That year had led to even better ones in Dubai, Malaysia and even at this very Expo Centre where the best of Pakistan’s best – Nahid Akhtar, Runa Laila, Reshma, Nazia Hassan, Ali Azmat, Atif Aslam, Ali Zafar, Fuzon, Shaan, Saima and Strings – were acknowledged and duly honoured over the years. Those were years that will go down in history for their oomph. Those were the times for style and stars to shine but this year the LSAs lacked both style and stars.

Unreasonable demands like high price fees for participation (certain film stars demanded copious amounts of money to make an appearance), guarantees to be awarded (certain musicians would come only if they were guaranteed an award) and more stage time and presence (certain starlets refused to dance with others and demanded centre stage for participating) were thrown at the organizers. Unmet, these demands led to a disappointingly low attendance of many of the industry’s usual suspects.

Consequently there was no Atif Aslam, despite Bol and its music being the talk of the town. Where Bol failed, Love Mein Ghum rose with Reema to the rescue. The irony is that next year Bol will walk away with film awards despite Reema being more supportive of this platform. Humaima Malik sat the LSAs out; backstage murmurs suggested that she didn’t want to share the stage with Meera. And so Meera shone as always, dancing away to Mahnaaz’s hit film songs. Humaima’s loss was Mathira’s gain as the TV host emerged a much more popular choice. Her moves momentarily put the groove back into the show. Fans have already started rooting for an HSY-Mathira performance next year.

HSY stepped into the groove of Love Mein Ghum with Reema.

All praise to the BNN boys, who did full justice to the beautiful stage that had been constructed like the LSA statuette (visible from an aerial view). The show opened with the National Anthem and a hilarious message from the ‘President of Pakistan’. It became very clear that while the evening would be disappointingly low on stardom and style, it would be high on satire. And satire saved the day; one couldn’t get enough of it.

The puns continued throughout the evening: “Kya mein Faakhir ya waiter toa nahin lag raha?” repeated as a delightful throwback to the stage squabble between Ali Azmat and Faakhir in 2008. An irresistible poke at Humayun Saeed, an irrepressible dig into Sahir Lodhi. A much deserved lampooning of Pakistani musicians who had no qualms appearing on every little TV show in their ‘Mother India’ but didn’t have the time or interest to turn up and support their own industry in Pakistan. “Atif Aslam spends so much time in India that he comes back and says things like ‘aap ka desh bohat barriya hai!’” 

Murtaza Butt with a beautiful Mahira Khan.

The fashion industry received some well deserved bashing too (though it was revealed that a major chunk of the script had been censored). Deepak Perwani, HSY, Adnan Malik and Munib Nawaz bore the brunt of many jokes and fashion was shamelessly reflected upon as an industry that thrived on air kisses and back stabs. The BNN boys Murtaza, Mubin, Mustafa and Mohsin (with Faisal as their script writer) were what the LSAs needed and should have introduced years ago. Hopefully they will be signed on to deliver more of their delightful brand of entertainment.

Their beautiful co-host Mahira, however, was too politically correct to be entertaining. She reminded one of Anna Hathaway at the Oscars last year.

The show therefore continued with its highs and lows, the lowest of all being the fashion segments. Never has fashion seemed so contrived as it did at the LSAs this year. It was ironic that while bridals had been eliminated from the fashion categories, Deepak Perwani would choose to show only bridals in his short show. Sana Safinaz’s segment seemed hastily strung together, the clothes lacking the oomph that the designers iconize.

The only show worth watching was Ali Xeeshan’s, in which he launched his line of costume jewellery. His show was complimented by Nabila’s creative styling. The concept of netted faces with pronounced eyes has been experimented by John Galliano amongst other western designers over the years but only Nabila could have executed the idea so fearlessly. It was interesting to watch, to say the least.

Meera walked the final run for Ali Xeeshan

If the fashion segments were uninspiring, then the red carpet was as dull as a doorknob. Editor Xpoze, Andleeb Rana and fashion journalist Hani Taha – the two red-carpet judges – had a tough time selecting Best Dressed Man and Woman of the evening. HSY was chosen for looking dapper in a crisp black suit from his own label and fashion model Amna Ilyas was awarded Best Dressed Woman for wearing a Fahad Hussayn gown to perfection. However a few stylized celebrities do not a red carpet make and one missed the glitz and glamour of recent years.

It has been ten years and hopefully we’ll still be counting in the years to come, but the LSAs must decide which road to take to the future. If the event is to be about celebrating excellence in fields of fashion, music, film and television then realize that excellence equates to stars. The organizers must have either the muscle or the money to bring stars on board. Hollywood goes to the Oscars because of its clout and credibility. Bollywood loves the FilmFares because of the huge platform that it has always been; needless to say it’s a platform that puts millions into the kitty. No such realization has hit Pakistan’s stardom when it comes to the Lux Style Awards. Not even in ten years.

Fariha Parvez, Mahnaaz and Sanam Marvi: moments like these make the LSAs but there werem’t enough of them this year.

The anniversary show, therefore, was a very confused one. It was apologetic for not being as grand as it should have been while being giddy for having survived the worst of times in terms of political instability, wars on terror, economic downslides and generally uncooperativeness from the featured industries. It was proud of providing a new platform for an upcoming stream of stars and it was embarrassed of not having enough of the existing. That’s the note it ended on: a realization that the Lux Style Awards have come a long way in ten years but also apprehension regarding where they’ll be going from here.

Photography: Faisal Farooqi

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