The very first QMobile Hum Style Awards took place in Karachi last weekend and the event started a welcome tradition for a network that is already dabbling in film, television and fashion via the Bridal Couture Weeks it hosts. The fashion industry has witnessed tremendous growth in recent years; lawn, high street brands, menswear or bridal couture having become some of the most visible and bankable commodities in the country. So the Style Awards were completely called for.
There was a lot of initial speculation that the Hum Style Awards would emulate the existing Lux Style Awards, that now have a 15-year tradition to lean on and while of course, the format and even the categories were similar to some extent, it would be unreasonable to expect something entirely new. How different are the Filmfare Awards from the countless Bollywood award shows that have followed in India? Every award show has specific categories and is furnished for public consumption with a popular host (preferably a comedian), performances, tributes, celebrities and fashion.
To the credit of Show Director Nida Butt, the Hum Awards did take a fresh approach to the event. The opening sequence was slick and suave and had Nida Butt written all over it. One was reminded of Butt’s first big stage musical Chicago and happily related to the contemporary song and dance she brought to this stage. The host, Ahmad Ali Akbar, who was Danny in Butt’s Grease, was a welcome change from the Ahmed Ali Butt-Vasay Chaudhry-Yasir Hussain trio that has been overused. Of course, the script was not as crisp or funny as the comic trio is capable of delivering – in fact it did fall flat at times – but Ahmad Ali’s charms and youthful energy made up for the shortcomings. The evening pulled along with several impactful performances and a slew of entertaining show hosts. YouTube sensation Zaid Ali T had been flown in from Canada and his act did excitement and anticipation even though it wasn’t half as funny on stage as it is in the crudely made home videos Zaid Ali T is insanely popular for.
Nida Butt also made an ostensible effort of introducing new performers. The highly anticipated Meesha Shafi and Umair Jaswal did not disappoint though the equally popular Saba Qamar and Zahid Ahmed, unfortunately were a bit static. Qamar is a terrific actress but her acting prowess unfortunately did not extend to her legwork. Zahid Ahmed, another brilliant upcoming actor, onstage was forgettable at best. Circumstances dictated an exclusion of Bollywood from the soundtrack of the show (which was a relief) and so the Hum Style Awards relied on locally spun hits from all time. Now, while we may have seen medleys paying homage to Nazia Hasan, Alamgir and Sajjad Ali at the Lux Style Awards before, what we didn’t expect was to see Hassan Sheheryar Yasin trade in his black suit for his dancing shoes and shine as performer of the night. HSY outdid himself and was hands down the most entertaining act of the evening; he performed with and completely overshadowed Anoushey Ashraf, Zhaley Sarhadi and Sonya Hasan. The show also offered guaranteed crowd pleasers by veterans like Ali Zafar (who performed with Sohai Ali Abro) and Rahat Fateh Ali, who sang many of his TV hits, much to the delight of fans. There was lots of razzle dazzle and fresh fun and credit goes to Nida Butt for bringing it together so well.
“Give ’em the old razzle dazzle
Razzle Dazzle ’em
Give ’em an act with lots of flash in it
And the reaction will be passionate
Give ’em the old hocus pocus
Bead and feather ’em
How can they see with sequins in their eyes?”
While the performances were a peak, there were just as many dips in the event. Ironically, the style awards were very low on style. Not many great statements were made on the red carpet and that sponsored honeycomb backdrop was garish at best. Style Awards need to be sophisticated and sexy; that was grossly lacking. One almost wished the organizers had handed the aesthetic and execution of the red carpet to Nida Butt as well; she would have injected some much-needed oomph into it. As for the celebrities and their sartorial choices, it can be safely said that the fashion industry brought in the little style one saw whereas the TV stars, actors and actresses were quite amiss in that department.
The awards themselves were the most meaningless of all components of the show and struggled for credibility, popular perception being that they would favour Hum TV favourites. While awards to Khadijah Shah for Elan (Best Lawn) and Sapphire (Best High Street), Shehla Chatoor (Best Demi-Couture), Faraz Manan (Best Bridal Designer), Amber Sami (Best Jewellery Designer) and HSY (Most Stylish TV Host) – amongst others – were deserved wins, there were too many brow raisers, especially when it came to TV and Film related mentions.
Learning from the experienced Lux Style Awards, the Hum Style Awards can look into two solutions to improve their show in future years. First, they can make the judging process transparent, allowing viewers and voters to know who is on the jury and how votes are counted. A simple website with all this information would suffice.
Second, with Hum TV already hosting an existing Hum Awards, it would be a good idea to divide the USP of the shows. While the Hum Awards should celebrate excellence on TV and Film, the Hum Style Awards should focus on fashion as ‘style’ is irrelevant when it comes to Film and TV, mediums that cannot be judged on appearances. What exactly does Most Stylish Actor mean, one could ask? Does it mean an actor who looks good on screen or on the red carpet, because one can argue that Aamina Sheikh, for instance, is savvier than Syra Shehroze (who won Most Stylish Actress Television)? One assumes that the Lux Style Awards would have expanded if it had the funds but Hum TV, with two existing award shows, should have no problem dividing them cleanly. Of course, fashion awards may not have the same kind of ratings that television and film awards guarantee but then ratings – for once – should come secondary when taking up a noble cause to honour excellence.