The nominee reveal was a well-attended affair
The nominee reveal was a well-attended affair

All eyes are, inevitably, on the Lux Style Awards (LSAs). Other awards ceremonies may take place, generating plenty of media mileage with star-studded, grandiose events. But there’s something about the LSAs that’s different.

Here’s a venture that has been around for 15 years now, that isn’t associated with any one single channel, that brings forth controversy as well as major accolades year after year. Naysayers may go on and on about the LSA’s lack of objectivity and the contenders who don’t win always have much to say about Karachi-Lahore bias and jury prejudice. Yet, winning an oft-elusive Luxie remains an illustrious career benchmark – a recognition that the entire entertainment and fashion fraternity secretly desires, though they may put up pretenses of shrugging away the award.

Also read: Lux Style Awards 2016 nominations are out — did your favourite star make the cut?

A fine affair

The LSAs are always such a class act – may it be a sophisticated, albeit far too low-profile, tea announcing the winners or a starry entertainment extravaganza.

The latter, though, befits the awards better. We’re proud of the LSAs and all that they have done for Pakistani entertainment and we love to see the platform resplendent in all the pomp and glory that identifies it. This is the awards, after all, that has long enthralled us with odes to legends and spectacular, unforgettable performances. Reshma on stage, Atif Aslam, Ali Zafar, a young inexperienced Fawad Khan trying his hand at dancing … LSA’s memorable moments are many.

Frieha Altaf, Fauzia Aman and Hasnain Lehri were some of the very stylish guests of the night
Frieha Altaf, Fauzia Aman and Hasnain Lehri were some of the very stylish guests of the night

This year’s awards, like last year, promise to put up a grand show tentatively slotted for late July – and preceding the event was an intimate, laidback tea where the nominees were announced. Why an event to announce the nominees when earlier, press releases to the media would suffice? “It is a celebration of the LSAs turning 15,” says Fareshteh Aslam, in charge of the LSA’s media management.

It was a well-attended event, for the LSA nominations announcements are always highly anticipated. Floral arrangements, smatterings of crystal and rows of dining tables were set in front of a slight stage where one after the other, celebrity favorites played host: cinema’s ‘funny men’ Yasir Hussain and Ahmed Ali Butt, a dapper, wisecracking Adnan Malik, singer Farhan Saeed and a gorgeous Mahirah Khan. Completely at ease – for as Ahmed Butt pointed out, the show was hardly being filmed live – their banter varied, from hilarious but ribald ‘butt’ jokes to jests that awards were won only by the ‘cool’ to pointed cracks at movies that flopped and ‘soap’ jokes. Ahmed Butt blindfolded Mahirah Khan in a comic reenactment of the current Lux soap award, having the guests in fits.

Ahmed Ali Butt and Yasir Hussain before their turn as funny men for the night
Ahmed Ali Butt and Yasir Hussain before their turn as funny men for the night

Nominations and snubs

And then there were the nominations – no laughing matter. Eyebrows were raised here and there – they always are. Local cinema’s spectacular run last year was reflected in the Film category, with a variety of nominees and considerable competition in certain quarters. And yet, Wajahat Rauf’s Karachi Se Lahore was more or less ignored, only being recognized in the Best Supporting Actor and Best Singer (Male) slots. “I have no idea why this is the case,” said the director, a few hours following the announcement, “perhaps the jury chose to not like what the audience had liked and supported for eight full weeks at the cinema.”

In a similar vein, Hum Films’ Bin Roye was noted in several categories but ignored in the all-important Best Film slot. How could this be, when a movie like Wrong Number, with its mixed reviews, could be put into consideration? It’s the jury’s call.

Mahirah Khan's also played host - she's been nominated for her role in Bin Roye and Sadqay Tumhare
Mahirah Khan's also played host - she's been nominated for her role in Bin Roye and Sadqay Tumhare

Ahmed Ali Butt was slotted in the Best Actor innings, alongside Humayun Saeed for Jawani Phir Nahin Ani. Sohai Ali Abro, meanwhile, with a considerably meaty role in JPNA was relegated to the Best Supporting Actress nomination while co-actress Mehwish Hayat was pinpointed for Best Film Actress. Minor details, one may argue – for they have all been recognized – but they can be quite major issues for the nominees.

The lion’s share of nominations in the Drama category went to HUM TV productions – probably because most of last year’s biggest hit dramas emerged from the channel. It was surprising to see 2014’s popular Mahira Khan-Adnan Malik starrer Sadqay Tumhare, from HUM TV, figure prominently amongst the contenders. The drama won plenty of awards last year at Hum’s own home-based awards show but the LSAs refused to acknowledge it till now. Apparently, since the drama culminated in 2015, it could only be nominated in 2016. A bit late in the day, perhaps, especially in the Viewer’s Choice category where awards are given out according to vote and the audience has long moved on to newer dramas. Then again, rules are rules and the LSAs have always tended to follow their own.

Adnan Malik, nominated for Sadqay Tumhare, enjoying the spotlight at the LSA nominee reveal
Adnan Malik, nominated for Sadqay Tumhare, enjoying the spotlight at the LSA nominee reveal

Fashion has always been one of the LSA’s most clustered field, with a myriad nominees and egos at play. This time, the Model of the Year (Female) is going to be a tricky one featuring some of fashion’s prettiest, most experienced models in the line-up: Amna Babar, Fouzia Aman, Nooray Bhatti, Rabia Butt and Sadaf Kanwal.

Ahmed Ali Butt leading the pack of nominees (and their families and friends)
Ahmed Ali Butt leading the pack of nominees (and their families and friends)

And then there are the contentions. Should ten-time winner Khaadi have been ignored in Best Pret especially since competitor high-street brand Sapphire was nominated? Didn’t NFK Photography, last year’s Fashion Photographer winner, deserve a mention considering its repertoire of work in 2015? The inclusion of Mahgul and Muse were welcome but surprising additions to the Achievement in Luxury-Pret slot – the former is a relatively young brand with a strong, fashion-forward signature while the latter did not show at fashion week all through last year but was very visible at red-carpet affairs. Shehla Chatoor, who has been designing bridal-wear for more than a decade but showcased it for the first time at Fashion Pakistan Week last year, was an apt addition to the Achievement in Fashion Design – Bridal category. Meanwhile, Nomi Ansari, last year’s winning bridal designer, was not nominated at all.

These are never-ending deliberations that have always characterized the LSAs. It is because the awards, despite all critique, are taken seriously.

It’s good to see the LSAs step up the game – the pre-awards ceremony indicates that the organizers have no plans to back-pedal to a mere tea to announce the winners. Instead, there’s going to be a gala affair, coupled with entertainment, celebrity and unexpected wins that will then go on to be dissected, debated, derided and – if you’re a winner - applauded. We’re looking forward to it already.

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