02 Mar, 2018

LSA 2018: An ordinary night with an extraordinary cause

Lahore: The Lux Style Awards have been around for 17 years and they just keep getting bigger and better with something unique on display each year. LSA 2018, held on Tuesday at the Expo Centre in Lahore, was directed by former model and actor Vaneeza Ahmed; Frieha Altaf, who remained show director for the first 15 years consecutively, helmed two segments for the ceremony this year. The major highlights, one must mention, included the launch of #MeinBhi movement by Frieha and Ali Azmat’s enchanting performance to a qawwali sequence composed by Sahir Ali Bagga.

Nahid Siddiqui was honoured with the Unilever Chairman Lifetime Achievement Award for her contribution to arts while Frieha Altaf was honoured for her contributions to fashion. She chose to receive her award from Mukhataran Mai and Maheen Khan, both of whom play a significant role in the new social cause Frieha has taken up.

The ceremony began three hours later than it was supposed to begin and concluded around 2am. One can’t blame the organizers because we were there and saw that things were ready to roll, but people just didn’t turn up. The plush red carpet, divided in two separate spaces (outside and inside the hall), continued for a good two hours before the actual show kicked off. The red carpet, courtesy Jalal Salahuddin, was as exorbitant as it should be, but unfortunately the style statements that walked it were not that impressive.

Moving on to the ceremony, the opening act, spearheaded by Frieha Altaf, was a Kathak performance by UK-based, Pakistan Kathak dancer Nahid Siddiqui in collaboration with Mahira Khan who lent vocals to the powerful lyrics ‘Bol Ke Lab Azaad Hain Tere’. It was a beautiful and impactful presentation highlighting the issues of child abuse and sexual harassment in the country.

This was followed by a dance act featuring Ahsan Khan and Amna Ilyas who were later joined onstage by a group of children; this act was choreographed by Wahab Shah and was very well received. One of the many hosts for the night, Ahmed Ali Butt, who co-wrote the script as well, took the stage with a rap song that he created for the show. It was a tongue in cheek take on the industry these days.

The hosting was a mixed bag. Ahmed Ali Butt and Vasay Chaudhry were in good spirits and captivated the audience with their fun segments involving some of the leading celebrities like Humayun Saeed, Hamza Ali Abbasi and Mawra Hocane but Ali Kazmi, Aamina Sheikh and Ayesha Omar lacked the energy and wit as hosts for the night, making their segments dull and uninteresting. Mahira Khan and Ahsan Khan, who took center stage for announcing the awards for television, gave off some good vibes and picked things up. It made us wonder what Lux would do when Mahira’s stint as Lux girl ended, as the show seemed to rest on her star power in entirety.

Another major highlight of the LSA 2018 was certainly Ali Azmat who added life to the event at a point when people were desperate for some entertainment. The jugalbandi composed by Sahir Ali Bagga featured Ali Azmat on vocals and he completely blew things away.

Reflecting on the composition Sahir Ali Bagga shared with Instep, “Being a composer I always wanted to do something that has never been done in Pakistan before so I came up with this original composition featuring a song as well as an instrumental. There are a total of 25 musicians in the act aside from me and Ali Azmat; it’s a very heavy instrumental featuring qawwali, pop and rock with no Bollywood touch. It’s a pure Pakistani composition.”

The closing sequence and the most important act of the night, the ‘Mein Bhi’ song, brainchild of Frieha Altaf, featured over 32 musicians and artists and a 40-piece orchestra that recreated Shehzad Roy’s song ‘Kya Darta Hai’. A combination of young and old singers, rappers, rock stars and qawwals took the stage to put forward the cause that the LSA 2018 strived to achieve this year. Some of the artists involved in the act included veterans like Abu Mohammad and Fareed Ayaz and Humera Channa, alongside contemporary names like Kashmir The Band, Sounds of Kolachi, Lyari Underground, Abid Brohi, Ali Gul Pir, Viccaji sisters, Natasha Baig, Aima Baig, Massarrat Misbah and a group of acid burn survivors, Maheen Khan and Zurain Imam among many others.

LSA 2018 promised to rise above the usual proceedings and awards, and it proved to be different on that note. The evening was all about how important it is to raise awareness on issues that are often brushed under the carpet and giving way to women who are strong enough to lead their lives as they will. It was all very significant but left us with one burning question: was this the right platform to take up these causes?

We’ll take up that discussion in our in-depth review in Instep on Sunday…