Ahsan Khan and Humayun Saeed with their IPPAs
Ahsan Khan and Humayun Saeed with their IPPAs

What is the IPPA, you may ask?

Literally it stands for the International Pakistan Prestige Awards and besides, it rhymes with India’s star-studded IIFA.

Perhaps it was this poetic harmony that had so many of our local stars travel en masse to London for an awards ceremony that they had never heard of before.

Or maybe there were other incentives at play.

An all-paid London vacation perhaps? Or the guarantee that all attendees will be given a golden trophy? Or payment for attending the event?

Read on: The IPPA Awards are proof desi celebs will never be bored of black

Whatever their reasons, a veritable galaxy of stars flitted onto our social media feeds come IPPA night: Humayun Saeed, Adnan Siddiqui, Ahsan Khan, Gohar Rasheed, Bilal Ashraf, Farhan Saeed, Urwa Hocane, Mawra Hocane, Armeena Khan, Aisha Khan, Ayesha Omar, Nausheen Shah, Yasir Hussain, Humaima Malick, Javed Sheikh, Momal Sheikh, Ainy Jaffri, Behroze Sabzwari, Feroze Khan, Mikaal Zulfiqar, director Mohammed Ehteshamuddin (of Udaari fame) and director and actor Saife Hassan.

That’s a lot of heavy duty star power and if Instagram is to be believed, they all came decked up in their tuxedos and gowns for a ‘grand ceremony’.

But don’t believe what Instagram says and don’t get smitten by the designer-wear.

Here’s the lowdown on the first-ever IPPA’s via a range of very reliable sources...

1) The not-so-grand venue

Armeena Khan and fiance Fesl Khan at the IPPA awards
Armeena Khan and fiance Fesl Khan at the IPPA awards

The stage was set for the IPPA’s at the London Hilton Hotel, Park Lane and according to some of the attendees, this was hardly a grandiose venue.

“It was more like a ‘side lane’ hotel,” quips actor Adnan Siddiqui who hosted the opening act along with Yasir Hussain and also won an award for ‘Best International Personality’.

Adnan Siddiqui and Yasir Hussain hosted the first IPPA awards
Adnan Siddiqui and Yasir Hussain hosted the first IPPA awards

The show took place in the hotel’s basement area, quite similar to the marriage halls at local hotels. In fact, it led Adnan and Yasir to wisecrack in their comic sequence that ‘this seems like a good marriage hall in Lahore’.

2) IPPA was a ticketed event...

And the prices, according to the Internet, ranged from £106.79 to £212.99.

The IPPAs were a sold-out show; why would desis miss a chance to see their favourite Pakistani stars?
The IPPAs were a sold-out show; why would desis miss a chance to see their favourite Pakistani stars?

It’s hardly an astronomical price for an awards affair coupled with dinner and it had the London-based desi community happily buying tickets. Word has it that the hall, with a seating area of 600, was fully occupied.

3) Everybody-wins-an-award awards

Veritably every celebrity – sans a few – went back home with an award. It made one doubt the credibility of the IPPA jury – wherever it may exist.

Then again, this is how award ceremonies often function around the world. Except for a few well-respected enterprises, most events make sure that every celebrity gets a nod of acknowledgement via a golden trophy. In India, for instance, if Shah Rukh Khan is in the audience, he’s bound to get awarded, even if it’s for a vague, never-heard-before category.

Likewise, everybody at the IPPA was a winner and the stars seemed quite happy about it, floating images of themselves with their statuettes out on social media.

The problem is that this all-encompassing benevolence made the event more of a variety show than anything else.

4) As far as variety shows go, this event worked quite well...

Ahsan Khan rehearsing his IPPA performance with choreographer Wahab Shah
Ahsan Khan rehearsing his IPPA performance with choreographer Wahab Shah

To give it credit, the IPPA did try to put up a good show. The stars were there in abundance and littered throughout the ceremony were performances by the likes of Noor, Sana, Mawra Hocane, Ahsan Khan, Ainy Jaffri and Farhan Saeed.

Mawra Hocane with her dance crew backstage at the IPPA Awards
Mawra Hocane with her dance crew backstage at the IPPA Awards

Adnan Siddiqui and Yasir Hussain happily pulled in the punches in the opening sequence although one hears that a certain actor threatened that he would walk out should he be ridiculed. What’s an awards night – or variety show – without a few celebrity tantrums, eh?

5) There were hitches and glitches...

Beyond the show itself, insiders revealed that the considerable celebrity contingent that had flown in from Pakistan did face some glitches. Directors Mohammed Ehteshamuddin and Saife Hassan – coveted personalities on their home ground – waited for a long time before their rooms were made available to them.

While guests’ return flights were scheduled for a few days later, some of them found out that their hotels were booked only for the night of the event. After a bit of reorganisation, they had to be rerouted to other hotels.

The Pakistani entertainment industry may still be nascent but it shouldn't be represented by a shabby affair. This needs to be understood by event organisers as well as the celebrities who readily agree to participate.

Given that this was the IPPA’s first ever ceremony, the problems could have occurred simply due to lack of experience.

Ergo, this is hardly how one expects stars to be treated and come next year, the IPPA’s do need to up their game.

6) These baby steps could lead to a giant leap someday

Humayun Saeed is confident that the IPPA Awards will get better with each edition
Humayun Saeed is confident that the IPPA Awards will get better with each edition

One has to acknowledge, though, that the IPPA made an effort towards promoting Pakistani talent. London’s event calendar features plenty of Bollywood-centric events and the organisers of IPPA managed to provide homegrown entertainment for the Pakistani lot living there.

The fact that the hall was fully occupied is testament to Pakistani film and TV’s star-power. And the stars seemed quite happy to be there.

Or perhaps that had something to do with their all-paid vacation? One keeps coming back full-circle to this particular notion.

"All awards shows are orchestrated in order to bring in viewership ratings while promoting talent. The IPPA was no different," defends Humayun Saeed. "This was their first step and I am sure that they will improve in the future."

One hopes so for this is hardly the way one would want to project Pakistan to the international world. The Pakistani entertainment industry may still be nascent but it doesn’t need to be represented by what many said was a slipshod, shabby affair. This needs to be understood by event organisers as well as the celebrities that readily agree to participate. Their years of hard work needs better recognition than this, especially in a foreign country.

What were the IPPA’s, then?

They may have generated a bit of social media mileage and made certain performers very happy but from what we know, they didn't really boil down to much more than a rushed, not-very-exclusive showcase of Pakistani talent to the world.

We wish the organisers better luck in the future.

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