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16 Jan

Beauty and the proverbial beast

Last week the Mohatta Palace saw the Miss Veet Pakistan competition come to a close at an extravagant ceremony, which was attended by scores of Pakistan’s hottest stars such as Hareem Farooq, Noori, Osman Khalid Butt, Sadaf Kanwal, Mawra Hocane and Ali Zafar. What initially started off as a reality show between 12 competing contestants came down to the final three who had to impress the judges in one last attempt to win the title of Miss Veet Pakistan, a year-long contract with Veet as brand ambassador, and a cash prize of Rs.10 million amongst other giveaways.

The contestants in the show, which aired on TV and was available online as well, were earlier flown to Sri Lanka to perform tasks which either helped them continue their journey or be eliminated and sent home. Luckily, they were assisted by their mentor, Fayeza Ansari, who is perhaps the best person for the job as the fiery model is known for saying it how it is.

At the grand finale, the final three contestants had to give a befitting response to the tough questions asked by the celebrity judges Aamina Sheikh, Tapu Javeri and Aisha Khan to win and while the relevance of the questions was obvious, the rest of the evening unfortunately lost the plot to poor production.

First of all, it makes little sense to make people perform acts that they have no skill or training in. Would one invite a person who can’t sing to come on stage and sing? No, because it wouldn’t be a pleasurable experience for the members of the audience, or for the performer himself for that matter. In the same manner, it makes little sense to make people dance on stage when they simply don’t know how.

The Veet evening opened to a vibrant and energetic performance put forward by Mawra Hocane, who danced beautifully to Meesha Shafi’s ‘Bijli’ (from The Reluctant Fundamentalist), but the performance that followed didn’t need to be there. Young budding actors from an upcoming film Thora Jee Le were invited to dance to a medley of the film’s songs. The soundtrack of the film proved to be promising, but the lack of dancing skills made the entire experience confusing and awkward. Also, not many people recognize the upcoming stars as most of them are newcomers therefore it would have been more appropriate to introduce them in the beginning of the performance the way even big stars get introduced by the host before they take the stage.

Unfortunately, the same went down for the performance of the 12 contestants, who also came on stage and were made to dance. The stars of Thora Jee Le have to dance, or learn how to, because that is part of their job, but what about these girls who all have different goals and ambitions? Is there nothing else that could have been done to show their talent? Everyone involved in the production of the stage kept talking about how far the girls have come and how shy they initially used to be. It would have been better to somehow document and present that change in them because ultimately, that’s what this platform was for.

The final three then made matters worse when they came out to the stage with rockstar Ali Zafar performing his hit song ‘Rangeen’ but they too moved about the stage awkwardly. The blame lies with the directors of the show because they should have the insight to design the show differently.

 

The top three finalists of Miss Veet: (L-R) Lara Mudhwal, Zainab Raja and Zartab Bano

 

Thankfully, the saving grace of the evening in terms of entertainment perhaps came in the face of a suave and charming Ali Zafar, who entertained the crowd with his numbers ‘Jhoom’ and ‘Rangeen’ as well as an improvised version of his Coke Studio rendition of ‘Yar Daddi’. Zafar brought further innovation to an otherwise clichéd evening when he sang imitating different singing styles from all over the world, such as opera and qawwali.

The reason why the show’s lack of aesthetics is unfortunate because what Veet is trying to do in actuality is very commendable and an unplanned and poorly executed evening took away from the higher purpose. Veet announced the launch of Veet Academy towards the end of the show, which is something our industry desperately needs right now. The Veet Academy is going to be a grooming and training school that will help enhance young girls with skills such as communication, fitness, confidence, hygiene, and styling, so that they can go on to pursue their dreams, whatever they may be.

Veet has also roped in five celebrity mentors, such as Aamina Sheikh, Sarwat Gillani, Musarrat Misbah, Sidra Iqbal and Hareem Farooq, who will be training the girls in their respective fields and we are bowled over by the fact that Farooq has been chosen as the fitness expert for the young girls as she is not a conventional choice. This is creating a very powerful statement for the body positive movement, which has not yet made its way into Pakistan’s entertainment industry as yet; it also acknowledges the efforts of an artist who truly has worked hard to be fit and healthy.

It’s refreshing to see a beauty brand taking focus away from modeling and today’s obsession with being conventionally pretty (which includes being fair and unnaturally thin), towards a more wholesome image; it definitely is more empowering for young girls then what Veet has done in earlier shows. However, the essence of this message was almost lost in an evening that was not well planned or designed keeping in line with what the brand has set out to do. It almost seemed like two different voices and an event of such scale and grandeur should be able to integrate the mission statement of the brand into their activation more seamlessly.

 
This article was first published in Instep, 15th January 2017.
Manal Khan

The author is Deputy Editor at Something Haute who has studied film and journalism from SZABIST. Will be found at the gym if not in the office.