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It may have been the most disastrous ending to an Academy Award ceremony EVER. To award La La Land for Best Film, have the cast and crew onstage and then mid way through their acceptance speech announce that there’s been a mistake and it is Moonlight who has actually won. That was a blunder of epic proportions, and the Academy may never be able to live it down. We’re almost just as sure that Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway will never get invited back to present an award of this magnitude. And that the person in charge of envelopes will most certainly get fired for allowing this to happen.

However, it has to be said that the Oscars are aired live and blunders are all but natural. It’s terrible to have happened, but it happens. One would like to say to all critics in India and Pakistan who have been lampooning the guffaw (on Twitter) and saying that ‘at least this never happens at our award shows’ – OUR award shows are pre recorded and undergo at least two weeks of meticulous editing before they are aired. PLUS, everyone knows who’s winning beforehand. You can tell the winners by the people left in the audience.



Despite a glitch in the announcement, the award for Best Film ultimately went to Moonlight; La La Land earned its director, Damien Chazelle, an Oscar nod and swept the music categories.


So, back to the Academy Awards and the real value they can add to our award shows, in case anyone can stop laughing long enough to listen.

Award show season may have ended in the world but they will now begin, in full throttle, in Pakistan. We can look forward to the Hum Awards, the ARY Film Awards, the Lux Style Awards and making a controversial comeback, the Nigar Awards. I’m not discussing the merits of these awards or shows (that’s a story for another day) rather the production of the ceremonies. There is so much to be learnt from the way the Academy Awards are executed…


I’m sure there’s a long list of sponsors and patrons that contribute to the grand scale of the Academy Awards but there is never a single logo on display. The red carpet is clean and the backdrop and stage are spotless. What does that say for our award shows as well as our sponsors, who obviously have not been introduced to the word, ‘subtlety’? This year even Shah Rukh Khan made fun of the way one hundred sponsors shared the stage and title at the Film Fare Awards. Not only does it clutter the event but it depletes its value and sincerity of purpose. Plus, it’s impossible to believe that TV channels can’t afford to pay for their own shows.

PS. Can someone import a pure red, lush red carpet for award shows and stop borrowing the shaadi variety from Nizam Din?


Eating is no longer a social taboo and the Oscars, realizing the need to nourish an audience seated for over two hours, introduced the very cute idea of dropping candy parachutes into peoples’ laps. It could have been a way of subtle branding, as several celebrities (including Mel Gibson) were seen chewing on Twizzlers, but it was obviously very welcome. The candy chutes were followed up by donuts and cookies. Now even if our show directors cannot achieve this as delicately or tastefully (pun intended), they must keep it in mind. No one wants to starve through a five-hour show!


Not everyone can be a Meryl Streep and perhaps no one from Pakistan (or even India, for that matter) can afford to be as politically incorrect as Hollywood has been in unity against Trump but guys, at least try to sound interesting. I cannot think of anyone – other than Amna Ilyas – who has ever said something memorable at their winning moment. Our winners need to make an extra effort to sound intelligent. Make Asghar Farhadi your role model.


I can’t say this enough, but quality and content should drive social media hype and not vice versa. Not every starlet who makes vulgar videos in the backseat of her car deserves to be centre stage, in the spotlight. Award ceremonies are supposed to celebrate excellence not sensationalism and show directors need to chose their presenters carefully too. You can’t have a starlet, whose claim to fame is a bedroom video, present an award to a veteran who has decades of credible work behind him. Give some respect.


Last but not least, and at the risk of sounding like a broken record, BE ON TIME! The Oscars are telecast live and so delays are out of question. The problem with pre-recorded shows is that they begin late and then dilly-dally till the wee hours of the next morning. There is no post-show party for winners, no dinner or celebrations. People just crash and collapse after the award’s night ends and that’s really not the way it’s supposed to be. There have been so many instances where award winners have not been able to stick around to receive their own awards because of time delays.


This article was first published in Instep, 28th February 2017.