Saba Qamar, Meera and Maya Ali at rehearsals
Saba Qamar, Meera and Maya Ali at rehearsals

18 years and counting. The Lux Style Awards (LSA’s) are just about to roll out the red carpet and as you read this, stars and starlets across the country are figuring out their looks for the country’s longest standing entertainment-based awards ceremony, vying for the ‘Best Dressed at the LSA’s’ list.

More relevantly, the LSA’s are a celebration of Pakistan’s entertainment industry and traversing categories in film, fashion, music and television, this year’s nominations boast a heavy duty list of power players.

It will be interesting to see who wins.

Of course, the results will also inevitably lead to heated debates on who should have won instead. The LSA’s have always been the recipient of accolades as well as endless critique – that’s what makes them so much fun.

But there is another reason why this year’s nominations have been dissected – a reason that transcends the usual industry competition.

A number of nominees chose to opt out from the ceremony as actor Ali Zafar, accused by Meesha Shafi last year for having harassed her, was nominated in the Best Actor category for his movie Teefa In Trouble.

There was a point when the LSA’s were being criticised so extensively that it was wondered if the ceremony would actually take place or if this year’s winners would just be announced quietly. It wouldn’t have had been the first time.

Numerous people have announced their withdrawall from nominations
Numerous people have announced their withdrawall from nominations

There have been years when the awards have trundled down from high-flying shows to classy, but small-scale, dinners and teas. It would have had been understandable if the LSA’s had followed the same route this time around.

Read: Jami dumps his LSA awards over harassment controversy

However, it looks as if the organizers have decided to stride on. According to Awards Manager Fareshteh Aslam, “The LSA’s stand for honoring excellence in four industries for the work that they do all year round. It’s an annual event, now in its 18th year. In all these years, the LSA awards have been decided by four independent juries."

"This is a principle that has always been upheld while fulfilling the objective to put together a showflow that acknowledges and showcases the best performances during the awards year. The show must go on and via the Lifetime Achievement Awards, and the fantastic awards show acts, we continue to honour excellence and celebrate great performing arts.”

Fareshteh Aslam and with this year's show director once again, Frieha Altaf
Fareshteh Aslam and with this year's show director once again, Frieha Altaf

Will Ali Zafar be making an appearance, though, as a nominee for Best Actor? It’s highly unlikely especially since he is scheduled to perform in Orlando at an event that is taking place around the same dates as the LSAs. Ali may have had been the awards’ favorite blue-eyed boy for many years in the past but this time he won’t be around.

There are many more of the usual suspects who are knitting together the LSA fabric as we speak. Frieha Altaf, the LSA’s longtime show director, who was replaced by HSY for a year and shared the platform with Vaneeza Ahmed for another, is calling the shots once again.

Of course Nabila is no stranger to taking the trophy home
Of course Nabila is no stranger to taking the trophy home

Nabila’s N-Pro and N-Gents teams are, as always, the official stylists and you can count on seeing this year’s Lux girls floating about the red carpet and taking to the stage.

So what can we expect from the LSAs this year?

1) Believe it or not: Saba Qamar is going to be at the LSAs!

Based on the sneak peeks of the rehearsals filtering out on social media, it looks like actress Saba Qamar is going to be a major part of the show. It’s in sharp contrast to all the many years in the past when the actress – one of the country’s finest – had openly boycotted the ceremony, blaming it for showing partisanship and disrespecting actors.

Time and again, Saba had slammed the show for ‘nominating her but not giving her an award’, for having a ‘twisted criteria for nominations’ and recognizing her belatedly just because she now had the ‘Bollywood stamp’.

Last year, when she was awarded ‘Best Actress’ for her role in the TV drama Baaghi, Saba wasn’t there to receive her trophy.

Now, though, Saba is the latest Lux girl and is probably devising her wardrobe changes at the show, as we speak. It’s a complete turn-around – but we are predicting that it’s a welcome one. Saba Qamar is a powerhouse and her inclusion in the show is hopefully going to be a high point.

2) We'll see the Lux women onstage

Saba will be joined on stage by some of the other Lux 'girls' over the years, particularly Meera and Maya Ali. They are going to be seen in a collective performance and according to our sources, it’s going to be a tribute to an iconic actress from Lollywood’s golden era. Dance director Nigah will be choreographing their performance.

The duo -- Maya Ali and Saba Qamar pictured with the show's choreographer Nigah Jee
The duo -- Maya Ali and Saba Qamar pictured with the show's choreographer Nigah Jee

One would have expected Reema and Mahira Khan – two actresses who have always had a close relationship with the brand – to also take to the stage but it looks like they’ll be sitting out the performances this time around.

They may be around, however, to present awards.

3) Comedians will be front and center

And what’s an awards show without some laugh-out-loud moments? Unfortunately, we know the answer to that: it’s a drag. Having weathered a large number of various entertainment-based awards ceremonies, there have been frequent times when the audience has cringed at jokes that are either too immature or downright rude.

Also read: Did the Lux Style Awards just make fun of dwarfism?

On the upside, there have also been many moments that are memorable because they had the audience in rollicks – many of those moments were delivered at the LSA’s.

Hopefully, this year’s LSA’s will also be high on comedy. Ahmed Ali Butt, the host du jour at most events, is not going to be part of the ceremony this year (probably because he hosted last year’s LSA’s) but, from what we know, Yasir Hussain, Hina Dilpazeer and of course, Saba Qamar will be taking to the stage.

Here's hoping Yasir Hussain shows restraint with his jokes
Here's hoping Yasir Hussain shows restraint with his jokes

The latter two are pros at comic performances and Yasir can be very witty – let’s hope that he refrains from being politically incorrect this time around!

4) Atif Aslam will be performing

Atif Aslam is going to be performing at the LSA’s and – call us biased – but we’re already cheering for him. The singer will be returning to the LSA stage after two years and his performances tend to be high on energy. His performance, according to our sources, is a solo.

We've got an Atif Aslam performance to look forward to
We've got an Atif Aslam performance to look forward to

Another singer set to be part of the LSA’s is Momina Mustehsan and composer Sahir Ali Bagga is also on board. Is he working with one of the singers – or remixing old classics? We’re not sure yet!

5) Fahad Mustafa will be performing at the LSA’s – that’s a first!

Fahad Mustafa, with his hit movies and his hit game show, tends to pull in high ratings and it looks like he may be able to do the same for this year’s LSA’s.

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Rehearsals 😊

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The actor and host will be performing at the awards this year, probably on songs from the movies that he’s been part of.

6) Sarmad Khoosat will be writing the script

The show also has a very illustrious scriptwriter on board. Sarmad Khoosat, with his repertoire of thought-provoking scripts for TV and film, has penned most of the segments. It remains to be seen how he will fare with his first ever tryst as a scriptwriter for an awards show but we’re hoping for some poignant, thought-provoking dialogues and interesting anecdotes.

Curious to see what Khoosat comes up with
Curious to see what Khoosat comes up with

Also, we are curious to see how Sarmad will pen down the comic parts of the show, a genre that he is less familiar with. Having said this, we do know that Yasir Hussain is writing the script for some of the skits – including his own.

Other highlights that we can look forward to: Mehwish Hayat, Zara Noor Abbas and Asad Siddiqui are all part of this year’s show. Not too long ago, even Mehwish Hayat had been disgruntled at the awards, questioning the process by which winners were selected. It looks like she’s had a change of heart.

Of course, there will be winners and losers this time around as well and plenty of bruised egos who will promptly take to social media to lambast the awards. That’s all in a day’s work as far as the LSA’s are concerned.

Will the star-power ensure a fabulous show? Will the script manage to rise above basic commentaries and be riveting? Will the performances truly be a celebration of all that Pakistani entertainment and fashion has achieved this year? Will the show also address sexual harassment in the industry, an issue that can no longer be ignored? We’ll know this weekend!


Find Maliha Rehman on Instagram: @maliharehman1

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