Skip to main content

OP-ED: Stargazing at the Awards


Published in Daily Times / 11 Apr 2014


So which one of them is Pakistani?
Some of us were having a hard time putting a name to the music.
All of them,’ said the person sitting next to us, a little reproachfully.
The musical performances? oh that, none of them, he said cheerfully.
He did not seem shocked.


We had gathered that day to witness the 2nd Servis HUM Awards, celebrate the showbiz industry with its requisite fashion parades and indulge in some star gazing at the EXPO Centre, Karachi.



The show had been designed to honour the best of Pakistani music, fashion, film, and of course television. Guests glided across the hall in awe of the décor (flawless) and set pieces (stunning) while keeping an eagle eye on the red carpet for a Fawad Khan or Hamza Ali Abbasi sighting (rare).

Timely adverts running on OSN ensured that a regional audience awaited the telecast with bated breath along-side the rest of HUM fans. The ceremony was not LIVE but Twitter would be abuzz with activity ensuring that #humawards2014 kept trending and the cyber-world stayed in the loop.

Two Pakistani films, ‘Waar’ and ‘Main Hoon Shahid Afridi’ were due to be honored, and the lineup included efficient PR wizards busy sending out WIFI passwords, a parade of celebrity hosts engaged in banal exchanges, and flamboyant performers dancing into the wee hours of the night.




The list of surreal moments included Zia Moheyuddin on stage receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award & delivering a one line speech, a mama in law being thanked - probably a first, a well deserved tribute to the phoenix inspired rise of the local film industry by Samina Peerzada, and a forced ‘selfie’ that claimed to be unique. Someone will win an IPHONE 5. Someone else would equate HUM with Harrods.

The first winning speech put things in perspective when it alluded to the challenging terrain, a land where Basant & You Tube stay banned. Such festivities tend to act as ballast in a strange new ecosystem and allow the outside world a glimpse of life beyond the cringe worthy headlines.

Since the piece de resistance - Rahat Fateh Ali Khan was a no show, the lavish canvas, notwithstanding its ambitious design, would lose some of its luster. Sketches (best video), Overload (best band) would bag the coveted trophy restoring the faith. And Nauman Ejaz would joyfully accept his award for one drama while thanking the team from another. It happens.

The first HUM awards had been called out for suffering from a deplorable excess of Indian influences; the 2nd attempted to silence critics by adding at least one Pakistani ditty to an otherwise Indian inspired soundtrack. The Rahat void would be filled by Shehroze Sabzwari leading a dance troupe to Indian music, a comedy bit with a faux Bollywood producer, and veterans Bushra Ansari (recipient Excellence Award) & Javed Sheikh recreating Indian masters. More on that later.

Inside, the actor community looms in view; they stood next to up & coming sensations, most on the same patriotic wavelength, and collectively hailed the second coming of Pakistani cinema. For them the venue provided a wonderful opportunity to showcase the nation’s creative genius and peddle that soft image.

Someone later remarked that the local fare does not lend itself to oversized musical extravaganzas. Others would argue that the national treasury is brimming with talent and one wouldn’t have had to look very far for inspiration. There was Alamgir in the house, Pakistani bands among the nominees, and a wondrous collection of medleys (old & new) to choose from the vault. Their presence made such cultural encroachments, pointless. The crowd, however seemed dazzled by the gravity defying dance numbers – and the performers did put their heart and soul into them.

Using Indian imports as the building blocks of a Pakistani narrative would trigger a cyber-debate soon after. Live updates ala social media noted the vacuum, sardonic commentary on print media articles, ostensibly from the Indian side of cyberspace, were unforgiving. To be fair, Bollywood did not hog the entire spotlight. An Egyptian Sufi dance (the kind seen at desert safaris) and an intro choreographed to the backdrop of ‘Sway with me’ appeared on cue, infusing some Arabic / Latin soul to spice up the presentation.




The HUM Award prides itself for being a trailblazer, putting Pakistani drama on the map, keeping social calendars filled, tapping into the social media movement, and bringing eager looking bloggers on board. They also let the people have a say; viewer’s choice determined the best actor/drama/onscreen couple category.


The HUM Network deals in art and culture on the side, spearheading the bi-annual Bridal Couture Week (BCW). It is considered to be one big happy family, as the trophy bearers would remind the audience. That day had multiple themes on display - a tribute to the glorious past, a preview of coming attractions heavily laced with something borrowed, and a compelling revival in the works. Some worked. Some didn’t. Each added a layer of optimism to the saga they call HUM.

The End

Congratulations Asim Raza winner of Best Teleplay (Behadd)


Comments

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

The Book of Davis - Reading between the lines

Published by Global Affairs / Aug 2017

Raymond Davis is a champ. A team player, who puts the needs of his comrades in arms before himself. He is savvy. He is a man of integrity - a survivor - a trooper. Ray, the epitome of courage runs headlong towards danger and into a minefield - literally. He is all this and more. This is his story after all.

6 years ago, he was a trained Special Forces SF, undercover ‘contractor’, forced to navigate the cramped alleyways of Lahore on a routine mission – the details of which remain a mystery. His book ‘The Contractor: How I Landed in a Pakistani Prison and Ignited a Diplomatic Crisis’ with Storms Reback, revisits the scene of the crime to solidify his innocence and along the way take a few potshots at random players who helped secure his release. It’s a hair-raising ride.

His style is conversational, his demeanor - amiable. The case is still fresh in people’s minds and his intent to set the record straight ignites yet another round of controversy…

OPED: Keeping the Truth & Reconciliation Train on Track in Pakistan & Bangladesh

Published by Global Affairs / June 2017

It is no secret that Pakistan’s Eastern Wing broke away or that India helped carve Bangladesh in 1971. There were weaknesses to be exploited and deep seated resentments that left sizeable fissures in between Pakistan’s East and West wing. The Indian PM Modi can now tip his hat to 1,661 Indian soldiers allied with an armed resistance – the dreaded Mukti Bahini without fear of reprisal. Of late, there have been whispers about a KGB element in the mix. But the past is over and done with. Or is it?

There was madness and mayhem and civil unrest. Both sides suffered. The figure of three million offered by Bangladesh however has been widely disputed. While there has been a lot of water under the bridge since 1971- there has not been any serious attempt at breaching the divide. But most Pakistanis have not whitewashed their history and acknowledge their errors in judgment and lack of political foresight that led to the debacle.

‘The wall between Bangl…

BOOK REVIEW: Hira Mandi / Author: Claudine Le Tourneur Dlson

Published in Daily Times Saturday, February 11, 2012

Reproduced on Claudine Le Tourneur Dlson's Website

Translated from French by Priyanka Jhijaria

Reviewed by Afrah Jamal

A programme about Hira Mandi did the internet rounds a couple of years ago. It claimed, among other things, that the sons of the ‘dancers’ reportedly end up as lawyers, doctors, artists — a few join politics and some even reach the military. These outrageous statistics may be one of the reasons the documentary was banned from the mainstream media. That and its primary premise — the plight of the fallen women — would prompt the conservatives to howl with dismay before scurrying off to bury any evidence in the backyard along with other bodies.


Claudine Le Tourneur d’Ison embeds such wrenching moments in a bold narrative where its doomed protagonist can hail the brave new world and its genteel patrons from an extraordinary vantage point. The expedition to the underworld with the unfortunate progeny and the hapless…

VIEW: WOMEN in the PAF: AN ENSEMBLE CAST

PUBLISHED in HILAL (Pakistan Armed Forces Magazine) Feb 2010

By Afrah Jamal

Progressive - Conservative - Contemporary - Professional; separately these terms could apply to any service; together they were reserved for just one - the PAF.

Pakistan Air Force has kept in touch with its roots through its glorious traditions and kept up with the changing times with innovative thinking. Oftentimes, traditions that made it stand apart have also stood in the way of, well - progress. Consequently, the service nimbly skipped past the one proposed change that was going to have a profound effect on the lives of countless young girls and would forever alter the way society perceived their womenfolk.

Before 1994, Lady Officers were a rare sight in the PAF. So rare in fact, that when male cadets donned wigs to represent the female species in annual variety shows, nobody wondered why. By 2010, women have become an indispensable part of the service. While, PAF was no stranger to a woman in uniform, a f…

OPED: Radd-ul-Fassad – An Urgent Revision in the Wake of Mashal Khan's Lynching

Published Global Affairs / June 2017

Written in the immediate aftermath of Mashal Khan's lynching

On December 2014, 148 people, mostly school kids were murdered by terrorists in the APS (Army Public School) school massacre. In April 2017, a university student was lynched in Mardan. One tragedy marked a turning point. Another opens a Pandora’s Box.

APS happened while Operation Zarb-e-Azb was underway. It shook the nation to its very core; and pushed the armed forces to expand the scope of its offensives. Military courts were set up in the aftermath. A death row inmate (Qadri), once lauded by clergy and lawyers for killing a Governor, was finally executed along with scores of militants.

And soon another operation would come into effect after shrines, rallies and public places were targeted in a resurgence of terror in 2017. If the first was driven by vengeance, the second came from desperation. Pakistan’s survival was at stake – unless it tackled the darkness head on. But the dark…

BOOK REVIEW: Pakistan: Beyond The ‘Crisis State’ / Author: Maleeha Lodhi

Thanks to Liberty Books for the review copy

Published in Daily Times / Saturday, June 18, 2011

Reviewed by Afrah Jamal

Published under the title: 17 Reasons to Hope

“History will be what we make it. If we go on as we are, history will have its revenge and retribution”— from the movie, ‘Good Night, & Good Luck’

A region known for most “terrorist sightings”, a place feared for harbouring medieval mindsets next to progressive thinkers and a nation shunned for having an affinity for nuclear toys. By turns a cautionary tale, an indispensable ally and an international pariah, Pakistan does not fit into any mould — for long. But its name crops up whenever things go awry.

Pakistan: Beyond the ‘Crisis State’ is a compilation of articles put together by Maleeha Lodhi that countermands the grim prognosis. When Ms Lodhi, who has served as Pakistan’s ambassador to the US and UK, acknowledges that “resilience has been part of Pakistan’s story from its inception, obscured by the single issue lens…

BOOK REVIEW: Operation Geronimo – the Betrayal and Execution of Osama Bin Laden and its Aftermath

Published in Daily Times (Pakistan) / 27 April 2013
Author: Shaukat Qadir
Reviewed by: Afrah Jamal



Book Cover Courtesy: Link

The insider account by a former SEAL later used to prop up the raid sequence of ‘Zero Dark Thirty fills in the dramatic details but a change in vantage point zooms in on the Pakistani equation. In less than a 100 pages, the author proceeds to tie up loose ends leftover from the reams of official spin surrounding the events of May 1 2011.

He is a retired infantry Brigadier from Pakistan Army who uses his unprecedented access to the corridors of military power to launch an independent inquiry into the incident. His research takes in isolated facts, hidden motives and shadowy agendas to create an alternate timeline of events. They correspond with the main outlines of the sanctioned version but differ in the approach. The resultant document builds an appealing profile that demands a second look at the so called ‘mansion’ in Abbottabad and the dead man walking within…