The LSAs just introduced critics choice awards

Published 11 Dec, 2018 08:24pm

Maliha Rehman

The winners of Best Actor and Best Actress used to be selected by popular vote. But not anymore

The Lux Style Awards (LSAs) have just announced the nomination categories for 2019 and it looks like the country’s oldest awards ceremony is in the mood for a few changes here and there.

The most noticeable change is in the Film category. Until now, amidst much controversy and injured egos, a best actor and actress were selected, based on popular votes. However, when the Best Actress award went to Mahira Khan for Verna last year, many felt that Mehwish Hayat deserved it more for her role in Punjab Nahi Jaungi and questioned why the LSAs relied on audience votes to reward acting performance.

Perhaps it's for this reason that this year, the awards have amicably expanded to include two critics’ choice awards for Best Actor and Actress. That’s four votes in total: Best Actor and Actress based on viewers’ choice and Best Actor and Actress based on critics’ choice.

Awards manager Fareshteh Aslam elaborates, “Film is a mass medium and the masses need to have their say in it, particularly in the case of actors and actresses. At the same time, the LSAs also want to acknowledge excellence in the field, which is why we have included the critics’ choice categories.”

Also read: The secrets behind the Lux Style Awards that no one wants to talk about

This may be understandable since the public is more likely to vote for actors that they like even though there may be others who may have delivered better performances during the course of the year. It does, however, diminish the exclusivity that the Best Actor and Actress categories commanded in the past. Perhaps this is inevitable, given that the local film industry is expanding and requires greater representation.

Why eliminate the Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress category then? Why is there a Best TV Writer category but no acknowledgement given to the best film scriptwriter?

“In our part of the world, films are generally written collectively. The scriptwriter is involved but so is the director and even some of the actors. It’s very blurred,” says Fareshteh. “And any actor who does exceptional work will be recognised in the main acting categories regardless of whether he or she played the lead character or was in a supporting role.”

The Best Singer Male and Best Singer Female for Film have been revamped into Best Playback Singer Film, slotted in the Music category. This may make the selection process difficult for the music jury: what if a stellar male singer is pitted against a female singer who is just as good? The treatment of a song by a male and a female is often quite different. Shouldn’t both genders have been kept separate, as in the past, in order to recognise excellence in two categories that are similar and yet different?

Some changes that make better sense: the Album of the year and Music Video Director of the year categories have been removed, simply because hardly any albums or videos get made in this day and age. A Best Singer of the Year award has been added – makes sense.

"Any actor who does exceptional work will be recognised in the main acting categories regardless of whether he or she played the lead character or was in a supporting role." - Fareshteh Aslam, LSA director

In the Fashion category, the Best Lawn category has been removed. With almost every unstitched collection looking the same and lawn often blurring into prêt, zoning in on a ‘Best Lawn’ must have been a headache for the fashion jury. The lawn moguls with their eyes set on winning a silver statuette are likely to be irritated by this change but I can almost hear the long-suffering jury heave an audible sigh of relief!

Within the realm of TV dramas, a Best Emerging Talent in TV category has been added in order to recognise the wealth of new talent that is persistently debuting in the drama industry.

Also, as in the case of Film, TV actors and actresses now have a better chance at winning. The Best TV Actor and Actress categories are now divided into two viewers’ choice awards and two critics’ choice awards. Earlier, the Best Actor and Actress were also decided only on the basis of popular votes.

If nothing else, this is probably going to lead to higher celebrity attendance at the awards next year. Remember those actors that would stalk off in a huff or make cutting remarks on Twitter when they didn’t win? And all those many, many celebrities who would openly declare that they are not going to be attending the LSAs because they are not happy with the nominations and the winners? Well, they’re more likely to be slipping into their high heels and designer gowns for the LSA red carpet this time around.

But the LSAs – for all their pros and cons – have never been ‘everybody will win’ awards. Will they manage to stay true to this standard now that they have expanding the actors’ categories? Also, the supporting actors and actresses and film playback singers are very likely to be disgruntled. I wouldn’t blame them.

Then again, like I said earlier, this is standard LSA fare. Let’s see how the awards roll out this time.