Instep Today

What caught our eye

By Maheen Sabeeh
Sun, 07, 24

Awards, audiences, and moral policing: entertainment in review.

Successes and setbacks

What caught our eye

2024 has been a year of uneven releases for Pakistani cinema. Comedies like Daghabaaz Dil and Hum Tum Aur Wo failed to impress, leaving some questioning the industry’s ability to consistently deliver strong content.

However, not all releases were letdowns. Taxali Gate garnered critical and audience acclaim for its captivating story, strong acting, and impressive visuals. Genre-bending films like the sci-fi fantasy Umro Ayyar offered a welcome change of pace. Nayab, despite lacking in marketing, presented a well-crafted narrative worth seeking out.

The second half of the year holds some promise. The Glassworker and Leech are generating buzz, suggesting a potential upswing.

Streaming platforms are also adding to the mix. Asim Abbasi’s upcoming project, Barzakh, featuring Fawad Khan and Sanam Saeed, is finally set to premiere with six episodes and will be available to Pakistani audiences on YouTube.

While 2024 has seen some underwhelming releases, glimmers of hope exist with certain upcoming projects. Whether the year lives up to its potential remains to be seen.

Footnote: Yes, it seems Fawad Khan is going back to Bollywood after 8 years but who didn’t see that coming?

Khalil Ur Rehman Qamar refuses to work with Saba Qamar

What caught our eye

Khalil Ur Rehman Qamar, a renowned Pakistani writer and producer, is currently receiving acclaim for his drama serial Gentleman. Some of his other notable works include Mere Paas Tum Ho, Bunty I Love You, Landa Bazar, Boota from Toba Tek Singh, Dil Lagi, and Sadqay Tumhare. He frequently appears on various discussion shows and interviews.

However, his recent appearance on Hafiz Ahmed’s podcast has sparked discussions about his collaboration with actors. Saba Qamar, a talented actress who delivered an exceptional performance in Qamar’s drama serial Bunty I Love You, seems to be on different artistic path than him despite their past collaboration.

Khalil Ur Rehman, stated on the podcast, “I will never cast Saba Qamar again in any of my dramas. I think I won’t be working with her ever because the kind of clothes she wears don’t go well with me. Although she’s a wonderful actress and I like her work—she gave a stellar performance in my drama serial Bunty I Love You—such kind dressing is against our norms and culture. I know wearing such clothes is her personal choice, and I should not have an issue with it, but still, I have a right to choose.”

Now let’s cut to another story that relates to the same issue.

Building a more inclusive environment

What caught our eye

It‘s time to recognize the importance of teaching gender equality from an early age. Open discussions about gender equality can help dismantle limiting societal norms. By encouraging men to view women as individuals, we can create a more inclusive and supportive environment for everyone.

An essential aspect of a thriving society is the ability for individuals to express themselves authentically, as long as it doesn’t harm others. This includes freedom of choice in areas like clothing and personal style.

Whether it’s Mahira Khan or Saba Qamar, netizens and celebrated writers should not take up the mantle of moral policing any actor or individual based on what they believe to be tradition.

Recognizing the inherent equality of men and women is a cornerstone of social progress. By embracing diversity and allowing individuals to define their own paths, we can create a more inclusive and respectful environment for everyone. Even if some may feel uncomfortable with differences, fostering open dialogue and understanding can lead to a more positive future for us all.

The underlying issue: societal expectations for women

What caught our eye

The conversation surrounding Saba Qamar, Khalil Ur Rehman Qamar and Mahira Khan highlights a broader issue in Pakistani society: the prevalence of social expectations regarding women’s appearance and behavior. Qamar, a successful writer known for his strong creative vision, is quite notorious for his disrespectful criticism of actresses, particularly regarding their attire and statements. What is most surprising is that, despite his sexist remarks, the biggest names in the industry continue to collaborate with him, and few call him out.

Fans also play a role in shaping this discourse. Disapproving of an actress’s outfit is a personal preference, but resorting to online negativity creates a hostile environment. Moving forward, fostering a culture of respect is crucial.

Christopher Nolan finally got an Oscar!

What caught our eye

Despite a long and critically acclaimed career including films like Memento, Inception, and The Batman trilogy, Christopher Nolan finally received recognition from the Academy in 2024. His 2023 film, Oppenheimer, scored him both the Best Director award and the Best Picture award. Though nominated in 2023, the ceremony itself happened in 2024, technically making him an Oscar winner this year.

Anant Ambani’s big fat wedding

What caught our eye

Mark your calendars, folks, because the wedding of the century (well, at least this year) is about to go down in Mumbai! Anant Ambani, son of India’s richest man Mukesh Ambani, is tying the knot with Radhika Merchant, and let’s just say they’re not exactly eloping to Vegas.

Forget bachelor parties, Anant’s three-day extravaganza in Jamnagar would leave Gatsby green with envy.

Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg were there (probably comparing net worth between dance breaks), and the entire Bollywood Khan-troika (Shah Rukh, Salman, and Aamir) performed together. We can only imagine the insurance bill for that stage.

Apparently, popping the question doesn’t involve just a ring anymore. Anant whisked Radhika away on a luxury cruise around Europe for their engagement. Now, imagine this: you’re chilling in Portofino, ready for a romantic gondola ride, when suddenly the entire town is shut down for a private Ambani party. Cue confused Italian tourists and very happy waiters with overflowing champagne flutes.

The actual wedding is happening between July 12th and 14th at Antilia, the Ambani residence that’s basically a 27-story monument to wealth. The guest list is rumored to be longer than your grocery list after hangry panic-buying, and Justin Bieber is confirmed to perform (get ready for deafening cheers that could rival a rocket launch). Talks are also on with Drake, Adele, and Lana Del Rey, because why have one superstar when you can have an existential crisis buffet?

Dress Code: Bedazzled Dhoti or Something Sparkly: Guests are getting a special ‘what to wear’ manual, featuring traditional Indian attire or ‘Indian chic.’ Just picture it: Wall Street execs in bejeweled dhotis and social media influencers draped in saris that could blind a small village.

Now, all this glitz and glam has some folks scratching their heads. India has a significant poverty problem, and this wedding could fund a small nation’s space program. To their credit, the Ambanis did hold a separate feast for 50 underprivileged people. So, there’s that. But hey, let’s not rain on their parade (unless it’s made of money, then by all means, proceed). This wedding is a spectacle, a testament to excess, and a reminder that the rich really do play by different rules. Just grab some popcorn, settle in, and prepare to be amazed (and maybe a little bewildered) by the sheer audacity of it all.

Mahira Khan’s outfit at tribute event faces criticism

What caught our eye

Mahira Khan, a leading Pakistani actress known for her impactful performances and bold fashion choices, is a frequent attendee at events that champion social causes and pay homage to industry veterans. Recently, she attended a tribute event celebrating Sultana Siddiqui’s career. Mahira wore a green off-the-shoulder midi-dress for the event, interacted with fans and media, and even took the stage to speak. However, her outfit sparked a controversy online, with some viewers expressing concerns about its suitability for the occasion.

Social media users voiced their opinions, with some feeling the dress was too revealing for a tribute event. Comments like, “Is showcasing vulgarity considered modern now?” and “This attire is disrespectful and shouldn’t be tolerated here,” reflect this perspective.

Others advocated for traditional clothing, suggesting a shalwar kameez would have been more appropriate. One viewer remarked, “A shalwar kameez would’ve been elegant,” while another expressed, “The obsession with western wear is baffling.

Our own shalwar kameez are gorgeous, perfect for our climate, and embody eastern beauty. Mahira’s stunning, and a cool shalwar kameez would’ve highlighted that beautifully.”