Doubts about credibility and unfair nominations are an annual staple of the Lux Style Awards, but this year Sajal Aly is speaking out against ill-treatment of stars by the organisers and hosts of Pakistan's biggest awards show.

With Best Actress nominations for both O Rangreza and Yakeen Ka Safar, Aly was among the few actors to have been recognised twice in the same category in a year. Although Saba Qamar bagged the accolade for Baaghi, Sajal was a good sport and lent her support to Saba for her iconic performance as Qandeel Baloch.

What did upset Sajal at the LSAs, however, was the "ridicule" she feels she faced during the ceremony.

“I feel like we have gradually gone from treating awards as an evening of celebration of good work and art to ridiculing actors and our industry. I was quite disappointed [by LSA 2018]," she shared with Images.

Sajal with her Yakeen Ka Safar costar Ahad Raza Mir at LSA 2018
Sajal with her Yakeen Ka Safar costar Ahad Raza Mir at LSA 2018

Sajal took exception to the Best Dressed segment hosted by actor Ahmed Ali Butt, which lined up some male and female stars and left the decision of who's worthy of the title to audience applause. Sajal was pitted against Nabila (who eventually took the trophy), Ainy Jaffri and the Hocane sisters. While the crowd itself was observed to be rather awkward during the segment, Sajal found it plain distasteful.

“It might sound harsh, but unfortunately that’s the reality. Actors were treated as subjects of humiliation and were used for cheap laughs. I may also sound like I’m ranting, but does no one go over the script and point out whether something is a bit much?” Sajal asked. “Not a lot of actors attend the awards in the first place and slowly that number will grow. I know I don’t want to be disrespected for the sake of a show’s rating.”

"Start treating awards like awards. Give respect where it is due and make people feel good that they attended the event." — Sajal Aly

Host Ahmed Ali Butt has already defended the segment, saying that "It was all in good fun and it won’t be aired on TV because it was basically done in order to kill time while the stage was being set up for Sahir Ali Bagga and Ali Azmat’s live performance."

However, Sajal feels that the segment contradicted the show's core theme. “It’s funny how the social message behind the awards this year was gender equality, highlighting women’s rights and abuse against women. That’s all I have to say,” she said.

While she felt her experience this time around was ruined, what does she expect next awards season? “I’m not sure what to expect anymore, or rather, I know exactly what to expect... Start treating awards like awards,” she entreated. “Give respect where it is due and make people feel good that they attended the event. We direly need structure and discipline.”

To her, it’s her work that speaks volumes and that's what she wants to be taken seriously for. Set to star in the much-anticipated period play Aangan alongside an all-star cast comprising Ahad Raza Mir, Ahsan Khan, Mawra Hocane and Sonya Hussyn, Sajal’s determination to hone her craft is what stands tall amidst on-and-off grim circumstances.