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Tuesday May 28, 2024

LSA 2023: how to tell if a show was good

By Amina Baig
October 08, 2023

Karachi : Sometimes an objective preamble needs to precede subjective opinions. So here goes: the Lux Style Awards are fantastic. There is no other platform that celebrates the fashion and entertainment industries in Pakistan, and has done so, for the 22nd year running. Even during years where things had to be low-key photo shoots, the LSAs soldiered on and gave out the trophies and honored – whether contentiously or not – the individuals within industries who had worked hard to arrive at certain points in their careers.

That said, a major awards show has to deliver on two things: entertainment and excitement.

Firstly, we must commend the team, helmed by Saher Saad Yusoof, that produced the show this year, for getting so much right. The red carpet, created by Raka Events and managed by PH Solutions, was laid out in a much more convenient manner, on a central, circular platform, roped off so whatever interviews needed to take place for cameras could be shot, with the general paparazzi taking their pictures off the sides without anyone getting in anyone’s way. Because the carpet ran on a loop, you could do multiple rounds around it and run into someone new and newsworthy each time. The red carpet led off into the #Lumiverse, where more intense shoots were happening. Off to another side, you could walk into a lounge to mingle, grab a drink or a snack, or just sit down for a sec.

The lounge went into the event area, which was fairly well-organized. The area was sectioned off for award presenters and nominees, media, and other guests. This is the bit that went off without a hitch. Of course, Faizan Haqqee had to remind people multiple times to take their seats, but is it really the LSA if you don’t hear his well-known-and-loved voice say ladies and gentlemen please take your seats, at least an upwards of eight times in a row?

The bones of the 22nd Lux Style Awards were good.

So what makes a show with good bones, good?

The hosts: The hosts are the people who accompany you all night, introduce presenters and performers, and banter with the stars. As a rule, they should be funny and engaging, snarky but appropriate. Do we agree on this? Because if we do, the choice to engage Fahad Mustafa, more than once, is worrying. Fahad Mustafa is a great actor, he has amazing comic timing on screen, but this is the second time one has seen him host the LSA, and he has come across as passive-aggressive and not funny. Yes, the jokes are written for you, but delivery is everything, my guy. Saba Qamar on the hand, kept cutting Mustafa off, speaking way too fast, and the barometer here is: if you read a Faiz Ahmed Faiz couplet and race through it, you’re not doing it right.

The other set of hosts were Durefishan Saleem and Ahmed Ali Butt. Definitely not passive aggressive and hurried, but the ‘we didn’t want controversies therefore X and Y are not hosting’ jokes given to Durefishan were one too many. We’ve seen more engaging hosts than the four that were onstage on Friday night, and host choice needs to be rethought for next year.

The performances: Okay, these were on the money. From Saba Qamar’s tribute to Reema Khan, to Farhan Saeed and Maya Ali’s medley of 2022’s film songs to the show opener, ‘Uss Rah Par’ performed by Young Stunners, Shae Gill and Faisal Kapadia to Kaifi Khalil’s solo performance, there can be no complaints; they were perfect.

The inexplicable skit: Sometimes a live show will insert a skit or two to fill time. That is fine. But the skit should be funny at best, or go in the entire other direction at worst and scare the bejesus out of you or something. This one was just indescribable because it had no defining factors. It was the white bread of skits. It was so unmemorable that one can only remember Mira Sethi looking fabulous while having no memory of who her partner was.

The winners: Look, we’re not going to go as far as to say the winners were perfectly selected, because the nominations were flawed. But from the shortlist, we have to say some winners were genuinely well-chosen. Aleena Naqvi, who won fashion photographer of the year, has done really stellar work in the last couple of years; Tabesh Khoja’s trophy was a long time coming, Yumna Zaidi deserved every award she picked, and Saba Qamar may not be the best host, but she is a brilliant actor and her win for Kamli was well-deserved.

What makes a show memorable?

This year, it had to be the winner’s speeches:

Abeer Asad Khan, who won best emerging talent in fashion, thanked her parents, and remembered her father who is no longer with her, Maha Tahirani thanked her parents, Tabesh Khoja, and all the girls whom she believes should dream big, Fizza Ali Meerza who thanked her daughters for being her backbone, Sarmad Khoosat who noted that he believed the best director trophy should have gone to Saim Sadiq for Joyland which brought home a Cannes nod and made the Oscars shortlist. Yumna Zaidi emphasized that if God means for it to be yours, no power in the world can keep you from success, and that her two trophies of the night were her reward for 11 years of relentless hard work. Marina Khan who won a changemaker award, thanked three men for her success, starting off with the late Shahzad Khalil, which was touching, because it has been over 30 years since he passed, and it was nice to see him being remembered.

What makes a show that has good bones, and is memorable, questionable?

Choices.

Let’s start with the nominations: With all due respect, the nominations process is not working well. When you ask people to submit their own work for consideration, a lot of people and projects who might not have earned a single thought from an educated jury will turn up in the nominations. When you leave voting up to the public, online, there is no way to quantify or qualify the outcomes. The juries, whomever they are made up of, specifically in fashion and music, are picking populist choices for the former (Khaadi for most fashion forward brand? Really?) allowing for a predictable win like Hussain Rehar’s, and ignoring labels that are doing great work even if they are not huge. Actually, just replace brand names with musician names here, and what we have is a reward system that is off-kilter.

Let’s address the elephant(s) on the stage: If the LSAs are a platform that was envisioned and brought to life by women, and makes a point to award women specifically, they need to stop nominating or awarding men who have allegedly assaulted women. Of course, when the win happens through a public polling system, we can’t blame the LSA, but this is where the quantity and quality of votes becomes important. Ditto for allowing people, who are facing sexual harassment allegations in court, to perform at the event. Guys, just stop.