Sunday June 16, 2024

Congrats, Xulfi

By Maheen Sabeeh
October 08, 2023

Karachi: The 22nd Lux Style Awards, held on Friday, were an affair to remember. Even with some certain stars conspicuous by their absence, it was a shimmering and celebrity-fuelled evening, nevertheless.

Recognizing talent in multiple fields of performing arts such as music, cinema, TV and fashion, it made some unprecedented moves in its music segment.

The country’s version of the Oscars and the Grammy or an iteration of the two left a lot to be desired, even as the ceremony had some high moments.

Congratulating Xulfi (Zulfiqar Jabbar Khan) is not a euphemism for something else. He really has won the trophy for Best Music Producer of the Year in the Critics’ Choice as soon as the nominations were revealed. Why, you might ask?

The simple answer is because all five songs nominated in the category were co-produced by him.

First, trying to play devil’s advocate is necessary.

Let’s theorize that as more categories were introduced in either film, or TV or fashion segments, critics were bound by choosing just one category. If a concession had to be made somewhere, music has taken the hit (in the past) and it did so, once again.

Another hypothesis is that critics were forced to add specifically ‘Music Producer of the Year’ as a category and not given a choice.

Or, they were given room to come up with one category and they shot themselves in the foot and muddled this process and came up with the Best Music Producer category themselves. Either way, the category is just the start.

As critics, it isn’t the public, but a jury of experts who selected the nominations, which means they made the worst mistake in the entire music segment.

And here’s why…

This is a category that was first introduced years ago. Here is how it went: Since Coke Studio has played a significant role in pop culture as an annual music series, especially in its early years, it was decided that a Best Music Producer category should be added because to not nominate then-music producer, Mr. Rohail Hyatt would’ve been unfair.

However, and this is the glitch, he was nominated in the category once for Coke Studio. The rest of the nominations went to other producers. He won and the process was repeated the next year. He won, again.

Now given the funding, the million-dollar equipment and a period during which it is produced, it gave him or any Coke Studio producer for that matter an edge over anyone and everyone else who earned a nomination in the category. And so, it was unanimously decided by-then jury that the category needed to change.

But the critics, this year, brought the Music Producer category back from the dead and stacked it with five songs from Coke Studio 14.

In the past, Mr. Rohail Hyatt was nominated once in the category which also had other significant names. In this version of Music Producer of the year, they stacked it so we all knew before this night came to an end that Xulfi was going to win. He would pick up the trophy. So, what could the next logical question be, but who will win as co-producer with Xulfi? Out of the five songs, Abdullah Siddiqui had the strongest chance. He co-produced (‘Tu Jhoom’, ‘Pasoori’, ‘Kana Yaari’ and ‘Phir Milenge’). Other contenders included co-producers Arsalan Hasan and Sherry Khattak for ‘Kana Yaari’ and Zain for ‘Thagyan’.

Our theory had been that Abdullah Siddiqui could easily win for his four co-produced songs because they are the most popular ones such as ‘Pasoori’ followed by ‘Kana Yaari’, ‘Tu Jhoom’ and ‘Phir Milenge’. We have been rooting for the prodigious Abdullah Siddiqui as co-producer, and were delighted to see him pick up the trophy for 'Pasoori' on award night.

In all its years of existence, this year’s nominations reflect just how little faith critics either have for the rest of the music scene or how out of touch they are with it. Is it baffling? Yes. Is it fair? No. Will this create further division between the music industry and the Lux Style Awards? Certainly. If critics don’t show faith in many, many producers outside of Coke Studio as well as artists, can we then blame Viewer’s Choice categories as being uneven or slightly sexist? Absolutely.

– Stay tuned to Instep for more on the LSAs 2023: follow us on @instep.thenews