Sunday, May 28, 2023 | Daily Newspaper published by GPPC Doha, Qatar.
 Muhammad Asad Ullah
Muhammad Asad Ullah
Muhammad Asad Ullah is one of the brightest new crop of journalists on the Doha scene. With a penchant for showbiz stories and a rover's eye on fashion. He's the whiz kid of the team with experience of both print and digital media.
CYNOSURE: u201cNo matter how big or small your role is, if itu2019s substantial enough to bring the right flavour to the script then thatu2019s all that matters,u201d says Anam Tanveer.
Anam’s stars set into motion

From a relatively moderate television host profile to making it big on television dramas, Anam Tanveer has traversed some distance. When something or someone is coined iconic, it’s a big deal. Which is why you need to pay attention to the game-changers. Meet Anam Tanveer, a trailblazer who is leaving her mark on the world, for good. She is a young woman dominating our television screens these days – ready and waiting to seize the next-big-thing crown. I wanted to know what this young woman is all about. What I discovered was humility, love for her craft and aspirations to create change with her acting prowess. Anam Tanveer is only in her mid-twenties and yet her attitude towards life and her approach to her work makes her seem as wise as a 100-year-old Buddha.  Since making her first screen appearance as a television co-host on Dum Dum Dee Dee, kids show on Pakistan Television (PTV), Pakistani television network owned by Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation, Anam has gone and done a lot in the Pakistan entertainment industry. Over to her… “I always wanted to be a model, but my mother didn’t approve of it. However, being a host on a political channel was still acceptable. So I hosted one of the political shows and that’s where I met Khaled Anum, veteran actor. He offered me to co-host Dum Dum Dee Dee and after that, offers for drama serials started pouring in,” recalls Anam. “I signed a drama serial without even telling my family. I told my mother that I’m shooting a play when I had completed the first spell of shoot. She was against it initially, but when my family saw my performance on television, they just realised my talent and hard work and went on to support me. They trust me.” Anam started off her acting career with cameo in Mere Dard Ko Zubaan Milay (2012) on premier entertainment channel HUM TV and then paved her way to the lead roles where entire drama serial and script seems to revolve around this young gal. How has the journey been? She says, “Everyone in their mind wants to be the lead actor. But, during my entire time in Pakistan entertainment industry – I’ve only realised one thing, lead is there but if you’re a good actor, no matter what your role be, you’re going to create a mark. It’s the character and the role that matters. No matter how big or small your role is, if it’s substantial enough to bring the right flavour to the script then that’s all that matters. I realised it a little too late but now I just enjoy being an actor rather then just looking out if it’s a lead or not.” Although Anam was never a slimmed-down figure, but over the period of half a decade, we’ve seen her working out for her slender new frame. Talking about the body-size standards set in Pakistan media industry, she comments, “Unfortunately there’s a standard set that you need to be skinny to do well on-screen. I don’t agree with it. One should only be skinny enough that suits him/her, maintaining a healthy lifestyle at the same time. I think you should have a curvy body because nothing’s more attractive than that but at the same I do not mean chubby,” she adds, “Healthy curvy! When producers and directors can’t say no to you directly they just make excuses and asks you to reduce weight. Looking back at our very own industry veterans like Sana Fakhar and Reema Khan, they were never skinny. They’ve always been curvy and they were huge stars in their times. So body size doesn’t matter. It’s your work and art that’s important.” Pakistani drama audience goers are used to watching glamorous and often scantily clad women on screen, almost always playing damsels in distress or love interests torn between family duty and following their heart. Anam talks about the dire need of changing this trend and presenting more substantial roles for the audiences. She says, “Unfortunately in our industry only damsel in distress kind of roles are preferred by the audience. I think this trend should be changed. We just pick one topic and start creating content around it unless there’s a saturation point. We should address real problems of society in our dramas and try to create an awareness.” Talking about her forthcoming projects, Anam reveals, “I’ve recently signed a film of horror genre and I’m the lead. I’m playing a bold reporter who’s a very tom boy sort of girl and that’s pretty much I can reveal as of now. Till it goes on-floor. I’m super excited. The script is amazing. I’ve been getting offers for films before but I always wanted something to be substantial.”

GROUP: Dignitaries and guests at the exhibition.
Key to the heritage destinations around the world

In recent decades, the concept of what is heritage has evolved and expanded and new groups have joined the specialists in its identification. Whether they are concerned with giving a building ‘heritage’ status, deciding which building to invest in, planning for the future of a historic site, or push forward to transfer the cultural heritage and values to the next generation – use of cogent heritage aesthetic values as a reference point has always been the priority. Such values shape the decisions that are made. The architectural monuments existing today are capable of shaping the vision of who we are and who we could be in the shadows of who we were and how we have evolved. It won’t be erroneous to say that heritage is not just a collection of aged buildings encompassing conditions, ideas, customs and values of the society that created it in the past, but an insight to the people who use it now and continually modify it.  International competition for antiquities has been fierce since the 19th century. Cleaning up old and picturesque sites can entail the destruction of some of the very monuments which makes them attracting, so conserving them is a real task. The World Heritage List by Unesco has successfully been on a mission to conserve the globe’s most historic natural and cultural sites since 1972 and today some 1,092 locations sit on that list. The primary objective of conservation is to protect cultural heritage from loss and depletion. On the basis of such considerations, the Embassy of Italy and Msheireb Museums, in co-operation with the UNESCO Regional Office in Doha and Altair4, an Italian company specialised in 3D reconstructions of archaeological sites, recently organised an exhibition ‘ArcheoMed3D Exhibition’ at Bin Jelmood House, Msheireb Museums. Taking down the route of technology, 3D and Augmented Reality, the exhibition features various Unesco-listed World Heritage sites, including Temple of Zeus in Agrigento and Pompeii, located in Italy; Al Zubarah, Qatar; Volubilis, Morocco; El Jem, Tunisia; Djémila, Algeria; Krak des Chevaliers, Syria; Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, Palestine; Baalbek, Lebanon; Hagia Sophia, Turkey; Petra, Jordon; Leptis Magna, Libya; and Phile, Egypt among others.  Walking down the exhibition and you find yourself in the ruins of the Greek temple that never completed and the broad stone platform heaped with tumbled pillars and blocks of stone, unmarred by any commercialism and marvelled at the extraordinary testament of Greek civilisation in its exceptionally preserved condition: the Temple of Zeus in Agrigento. Now that’s Virtual Reality. It seemed as if the guests were given the keys to the historical places, that they can get into and experience – just while in Doha, like a door to the Narnia world – considering the detail each installation seizes. Similarly, a layer of sand along the remains of the walled coastal town of Al Zubarah’s palaces, mosques, streets, courtyard houses, and fishermen’s huts; all out-done with 3D technology, in terms of detail. All you need is a smartphone or a tablet with Archeomed3D application installed, and the rest is only what you’ll experience. Initially it just seems like a map printed out with boundaries unless you see from the application’s eye. It’s a 3D model of the heritage sites. Interesting enough and crafted to detail that one could count the number of windows in Haghia Sofia or the stairs in a staircase at Baalbek, Lebanon.  Talking to Community, the envoy said, “Cultural Heritage is really important in defining peoples’ national identities. It represents indeed our past, but it expresses also what we have in common in the present to build up our future. New technologies can ensure that our immense and rich inheritance can be properly preserved today and transmitted to future generations tomorrow. With this ArcheoMed3D exhibition we have created a space for young people to experience and enjoy cultural heritage by using digital tools, 3D and Augmented Reality. Our aim is to encourage their engagement in identifying cultural heritage as an inspiring  source to shape who they will be tomorrow.” “Today, from Doha, we are sending out a very powerful message of cultural inclusion and openness to diversity. Qatar does not close the doors to cultural exchange, dialogue, to co-operation; Qatar is an example of inclusiveness. Culture in all its many forms contributes to give voice to the best side of human beings and is a powerful means to overcome decisions,” said Pasquale Salzano, Ambassador of Italy. “We hope that this initiative could contribute to encourage dialogue and cultural exchanges, and promote various cultural forms and identities of this wonderful part of the world,” he added.  The opening of the exhibition was followed by a panel discussion ‘Reviving Ancient Heritage Sites Through Virtual Reality’, moderated by Dr Anna Paolini, Unesco Representative in the Arab States of Gulf and Yemen, hosted by Alessandro Furlan, Founder of Altair4, along with Professor Thomas Leisten, acting Chief Officer of Cultural Heritage at Qatar Museum; and Raffaello Furlan, Assistant Professor of Architecture and Urban Design at the College of Engineering of Qatar University. The panel discussion highlighted the use of virtual reality and 3D presentation of cultural heritage and how such technology can help in conservation of heritage sites and drawing attention to the rich archeological heritage of Mediterranean Basin, Middle East and Gulf Region.

The biggest store of Ralph & Russo at Lagoona Mall, opened in partnership with Fifty One East.
Ralph & Russo opens its biggest boutique in the world at Lagoona Mall

If the skill of extravagant flourishes of drapery can be pulled off anywhere in fashion, it ought to be in haute couture – the highest order of dress making. The haute couture season is always wanting someone to let loose with feather, wildly clashing colours and an unbridled sense of fantasia, though without going down any tiresomely stereotypical princess route. While such extravagant satin bows, taffetas and silhouettes flowing down to form a perfectly tailored ensemble with floor-sweeping trains are a fantasy, tossing it around and convincing modern women to accept it is a totally different business. Ralph & Russo solved the contradictions as it opened its doors for the first time in London in 2010 as the only extant British couture house. With Tamara Ralph as the creative director and Michael Russo chairman and CEO, Ralph & Russo can whip chiffon around the body and into flying panels, shuddering ruffles, jacquard textures and dramatic, flippy hemlines and structures like no one else. Ralph & Russo has expanded over the decade, and their ready-to-wear collection, accessories and leather goods are for fashion-savvy women who understand fashion statements. The year has only just begun, but for Tamara and Michael it’s already one for the books. Many reasons may have influenced fashion, but today the aesthetic has gone to a whole new stylish place, turning the heads of millennials and social media-savvy consumers. “A lot has changed in the fashion industry and for us. We have transitioned as a brand. We started with the very niche segment of haute couture and established our name by creating the DNA for our house and products. Over these eight years we have always tried to stay true and consistent to that,” Michael Russo told Gulf Times in an exclusive interview during the launch of the world’s biggest boutique of Ralph & Russo at Lagoona Mall, in partnership with Fifty One East. In the competitive, exclusive world of high fashion, it can take brands ages to join the elite group of haute couturiers, but Ralph & Russo is already there in less than a decade. “Always being relevant and staying true to what we believe in is the key. As a brand, if you want to be on the top of your game, you have to evolve with the market and change with what’s happening. We should  evolve in line with how a woman evolves and how her style changes. She’s looking for more than just one piece from one brand now. She’s looking for a complete lifestyle and you have to cater to that,” Michael said. Paris is traditionally thought of as the couture fashion capital but Tamara and Michael, the Australian-born couple, set up their operations in London instead of getting into the centre of the fashion hub. This proved to be a masterstroke. “I don’t think there’s a fashion capital any more. London is a home for many other people and I guess that is an advantage for us to be there,” according to Michael. “When we were starting out, we really looked up to the houses that inspired us. And when you dissect them, you know they all started from couture. Maybe they started 60 years ago, but they started with a similar background. We wanted to create a similar house and needed to follow the same kind of strategy. It took us years to create that trust with our customers and establish what Ralph & Russo really is – the femininity, quality, craftsmanship and design behind it.” What is the link between Angelina Jolie’s fierce red-carpet looks, Beyoncé’s concert tour appearances making headlines, the official engagement photographs of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry and Blake Lively in a white pant suit during her film promotions? They were all seen pulling off Ralph & Russo. So, what makes the brand a celebrity favourite? “There’s no secret or trick. We create beautiful clothes that make women feel empowered. I think that is why they do it. When they step onto the red carpet, they want to make a statement and feel better than any other celebrity there,” he added. When a brand opens its “biggest boutique in the world”, one can’t but sit up and take notice. “We’ve been close to Qatar for years. We are so well looked after by everybody here. To us, it was a natural fit to associate our brand with the leading retailer in town. We love Fifty One East and the Darwish family. We’re a family and a company and that runs in our DNA. “The Qatari woman knows and is aware of what she wants. It’s about catering to those needs and lifestyles and fitting into them.”

BREAKING THE MOULD: u201cKhaas challenges the social norms and highlights for what goes wrong in this society,u201d says Sanam Baloch.
Back with a bang

It’s the voluminous blow-dried hair and flawless skin that give her away. Sanam Baloch is dressed unobtrusively in a mucho simple off-white Shalwar Kameez and beige flats, but she is unmistakable. Fans have accosted her five times in the past half hour alone. However, she ignores the stares and continues to chat animatedly about her upcoming drama serial Khaas, on premier entertainment channel Hum TV.  “Although I was quite long-winded and convivial since my childhood but being an actor was never my dream. Even my first play Kaalak, I was coaxed to do it and after that I thought that’s it – not anymore. People often talk about overnight success stories and this was indeed one of them for me. The telefilm got aired in the night and in the morning I was flooded with the huge feedback of calls and messages and what not. Imagine for that specific role I had to go all bald,” recalls Sanam Baloch.  At the time, the fresh faced only had made an appearance on KTN, a Sindhi channel, as a host. Little did she know that a telefilm with an unpopular pitch would go on to put her on the path to becoming one of Pakistan’s most beloved actresses. From that point onwards, Baloch has earned critical acclaim for a string of roles portraying many versions of Pakistan’s sweetheart. Post Kaalak, Sanam starred in drama serial Doraha (2008) on entertainment channel Geo, directed by Mehreen Jabbar, which was followed by spectacular work in Daastan (2010), Durr-e-Shehwar (2012), Kankar (2013), all on premier entertainment channel HUM TV, and telefilm Ek Thi Marium (2016). After a hiatus of one year with mornings shows and reading scripts one after another, post portraying Suhana in ARY Digita’s Teri Raza (2017), Sanam is all set to hit television screens again with Khaas alongside Ali Rehman Khan.  “Directed by Danish Nawaz, the play challenges the social norms and highlights for what goes wrong in this society. It’s how an environment and upbringing influences someone for who he becomes as a person – what he perceives and his approach to life and relations,” adds Sanam “The play is an emotional journey that will take you down and strike the right chord in terms of what needs to be changed and looked upon. It is based on the bitter realities of the world existing today. It’s something women of today’s time can relate to. It’s about love, remorse and guilt. It touches the taboo concerning women and how the society perceives them and treats them often and not just society but their closed ones including their husbands.”  Drawing parallel on what has changed in Pakistan entertainment industry for over a decade, Sanam says, “A lot has changed. We’re still on our way to making it big in the world though. I think we’re in the revolutionary phase right now where we have finally understood what our audiences want to see. We’ve started making relatable content that is not exaggerated on screen with quality.”  In Khaas, Sanam would be seen sharing the screen space with comparatively new actor Ali Rehman Khan. “Ali is a fantastic actor and he puts his 200% in every shot. We’re having a wonderful time on sets. He has studied acting and has practically learned it before he made it big on television screens. That makes helluva difference you know. On the sets we share our instant feedback and help each other with the scenes. I’m really hoping for people to like it once the play is out,” says Baloch.  Despite the brassy work that speaks volumes about her talent, Baloch still feels nervous, every time she steps on sets. One would think the actor is teeming with confidence by now, having made numerous television appearances. “I’m very nervous. I’m always nervous about every project I sign. I always leave my work to the Almighty with a prayer that he’ll look into it,” she explains “I started my acting career with Momina Duraid Productions and HUM TV and I’m back with them again. We’ve created tremendous projects together with international acclaim that were not only loved in Pakistan but across the border as well. So even this time – we’re hoping for the best. We’re like lucky charms for each other.” Social media was recently catching up with the rumours of Samaa TV taking Sanam Baloch’s morning show off air, where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Isn’t it? “Yes. The morning show is no more a part of Samaa’s transmission. Samaa is increasingly reducing its entertainment content and is trying to focus more on the news section. So yes,” she adds, “The thing about new beginnings is that they require something else to end.”

Ahmed Talfit
What fizzled and sizzled

Shop Qatar’s Design District, organised by Qatar Tourism Authority, was the trailer of what’s coming next – the retail revolution that will propel the business of fashion forward in Qatar. Fashion weeks are large, lumbering behemoths and make for long arduous days, but how fast time flies when fabulous fashion is the order of the day. Local and international haute couture and ready to wear designers on the same platform, and witnessing it was a complete headrush. Although in between it felt like it was the longest of a fashion week for anyone who wanted to check out the high street brands. And it was well worth it.   The difference is a huge, glaring one when one sees a collection of gorgeous outfits at any given fashion week and then like a flash in the pan it’s gone. The few wise retailers immediately prepare their boutiques for the arrival of those collections where fashion lovers then hurry off to.  That being said we hope fashion designers can walk off the ramps and straight into stores just like it happened at Shop Qatar. Qatar finally abuzz with fashion weeks, happening off and on like anything. It’s a big flare that fizzles out once the shows are over for designers. Many established designers, part of the showcase, have made their mark and moved on to retail already where some others have still opted for ‘appointment only’. That said, there wasn’t a single collection that one could say ‘blah’ to. The pioneers, fashion superstars, debut makers, luxury kings and queens and ready to wear gurus were all spot on. This is what ideally everyday at every fashion week should be like. Here’s what best went down the ramp and then translated to the fashion booths/pop up stores at Design District.  Yasmine Mansour It might sound silly to say, but Yasmine’s collection was unpretentious. It was modern, sleek and all about silhouette frills that caterwauled feminine appeal. It was here more effortless-looking couture outings – that is, she managed to keep supersize volumes down with some ready to wear twist. There was plenty of work behind even the most deceptively simple looks. The draping that echoed her sculptural inspiration looked terrific in billowing dresses with minimal delicate floral buds. The colour palette was so soft and pastel as if it’s a garden setting with blooming flowers around the perfectly structured silhouettes, emphasising the sighing softness of the fabric. But it was even better when it was worked in layers of brown and black chiffon, falling into undulating folds, sliding in controlled fashion off the shoulder. Yasmine’s showcase was all about structured shapes for confident, moderate woman who is all set to make a statement with strap gowns or deep necklines.  Namrata Joshipura Featuring best of Namrata, surrealistic and chic collection was charged with hefty dose of glamour and elegance; perfectly structured pant suits, pastels that packed a punch of big statements. It was nothing too extravagant, simple but making statement – and it made sense as ready-made scene without any need for flown-in props is all very bewitching. High rolling sequins and colours popping out of fitted gowns in black, mostly, was like a cocktail menu of individual styles. Her pieces poised empathetically between self-protection and self-projection. Namarata’s sporty personality was visible in each piece that came on the runway; simple and nothing too tacky. Her designs come as a massive relief to the grown women at a time when it feels like female power is being eroded. If you plan on wearing her pastel pant suit, be mentally prepared to turn heads around, because you’re definitely going to.  Faith Connextion They maintained its signature loud and brash style, bringing novelty and even bigger lustre to their trademark with bigger bling on their edgy outfits on the ramp. From bomber jackets with studded plackets to knee-length dresses with chain trimmed frills, it was all about underlining form and structure with a little sparkle in the right places – like a real New York fashion savvy statement. The collection caterwauled New York as it encompassed works and collaborations of many different artists and designers. Whether he/she is clad in denim or leather – the unisex collection was all about standing out and shining, like anything in the world.  Raw Mango by Sanjay Garg This guy knows how to make it to the headlines effortlessly, not because of any controversy-but because of his work. Sanjay’s romance with fabric as a textile designer is enduring, with no-nonsense side. As an ode to the style statement of Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Garg’s collection was abounding great occasion pieces, nothing too overly embellished type and something women can feel confident in. All monochromatic and minimalistic with popping colours. Nothing tacky as the feet languid column dresses paired with the head scarves just like Her Highness Sheikha Moza makes the collection roundly championed as an elegant, independent choice.  Ahmed Talfit For his haute couture collection, it was paradise in general that intrigued him. Bling bling and tightly fitted full length gowns was a proof that nothing can hold back this Tunisian designer when it comes to handwork and zip-line sexy pieces; some fully embellished and some in block plain silk taffetas. The result looked like some sort of exotic fish-in the most flattering possible way. Months and months in the planning, we’re sure, and the statement knee length radiating gold gown was decorated with crystals to catch the light and arrayed in the exact same pattern – a cocktail dress to die for as tassels fizzles around the perfectly tailored couture. Another gown was even more painstakingly embroidered with tiny silvery-gray caviar beads, well when I say it, I mean it – it was just the start of how embellishments are done with the notch glamorous presentation.  Saeed Malas It’s a haute couture season. There were many dreamy dresses in this collection: a trio in featherweight taffeta that wrap around the body, tethered by discreet micro-pleating; a golden strapless gown; and velvet sequins cinched at the waist by a drawstring. The palette was all bronze, golden and glitterati, and every interpretation of nude one might imagine. There was a deliberate bling the proceedings—literally, in the choice of fabrics and handwork. Perfectly structured flowy silhouettes to be appreciated by women who are beyond the flimflam and easy glam of our times. 

Pheonix and linear wedding wear collections take over Shop Qatar Day 1

Qatar Tourism Authority is thinking ‘export’ for Qatari fashion but there is a long road ahead yet. So what better way to promote the fashion savvy than with an eight-day long fashion festival, with the country’s razzmatazz gliding along the runway, international designers standing side besides to the local fashion creators and a space to explore what Qatari fashion and its heritage have to offer. Two skilled, exciting and international designers meshed in with a motley crew of local fashion labels made for a resounding start to eight days of ‘fashion forward’ activities of Shop Qatar’s Design District, it was a day of few lows and many highs. Bridal wear is desi fashion’s high point; it is to the sub-continent what couture is to the West – the most elaborate fantasy inspiring designers to go all out and it’s glorious to see them do just that. Traditional or modern? Long or short? Baroque embellishment or chic minimalism? Lace, jacquard or chiffon? The wed-worthy options can be as dazzling as they are overwhelming, but they are also romantic and exciting and on a whole new level of exquisite attention akin to that of couture. Where Abed Mahfouz featured his couture wedding gowns – flowing like a fluid with volume that could take over the world, Tarun Tahiliani was all about desi bridal wears with traditional cuts and silhouettes taking the centre stage.  Abed Mahfouz Abed offered a plentitude of options for brides-to-be in a tightly edited and pretty sublime collection made in all subtle tones – mostly white and nude pink that made a wonderful transition into black couture pieces. Although the structure and tailoring for the black silhouettes was all over the place but the white strapless, backless gowns were the right balance between sleek and dramatic with veils, and metallic threads for subtle shimmer. White net veils with subtle glitterati embellishments right on the borders were elegant, even if paired with any other tone of gown. Nothing too extravagant – except few pieces that were too gold, even for a party! Two of the most striking looks from Abed’s showcase were the most minimal: one a rich olive green number with a dramatic neckline and pants – more of a jump suit, the other a beige net silhouette, tailored to perfection with magnificent fullness and traditional embroidering making flower patterns. Well he did it right – he opened the show with this piece. Each line had its own high points: Abed Mahfouz’s crepe gowns with lace were unquestionably pretty, as were the taffeta ball gowns with bodices covered in flowers. The only thing that concerned everybody was every model tripping in all those voluminous couture pieces. Imagine opening the show and the model trips – and then trips every other model before here. Ridiculous right? Either the trails were too long or the dresses were too heavy! But you can’t blame the designer really, if it’s wedding couture wear it is supposed to be this grand.  Tarun Tahiliani Traditional cuts, heavily embellished dupattas, saris, pant saris and lehnga cholli - you name it and Tarun showcased. Apart from exquisitely crafted bridal womenswear pieces, Tarun also featured some menswear creations that caterwauled Maharaja and royal feels to it. Tarun brought traditional styles and contemporary cuts to his collection based on the regality of the Mughal era; worked in kora, dapka and lace work like a peek-a-boo for finishing – the bridal wear displayed a representation of the current bridal trend in terms of embellishment but in keeping with the needs of a more traditional bride. All those jasmine and crossandra garlands adorned with the tight hair buns was a vision, taking us back to the South Asian routes. The semi-formal clothes that came in was a more unique display and use of thread work with big, black motifs placed down the front of the kameezez provided linearity to the silhouettes. The ensemble was rich in culture Tarun was displaying as he offered modernity with sexy backless blouses, strapless heavily embellished gowns and sultry necklines. If you see Tarun’s pieces on a runway you’ll think how heavy they’ll be – in terms of weight - but they’re not. They are very light with fluid flowing silhoettes. Well that’s true for most of his pieces, except the last two – that featured traditional embroidery techniques with real craftsmanship, net dupattas and an inspiration drawing out from the Victorian era. Oh that royal pageantry. Verdict: Both Abed and Tarun have a winning formula for perfect couture, silhouettes, simple, stylish, high end concept, easy to buy and gorgeous to wear. Never expect something minimalism or simple – when these two designers are the lineup.

Sanam Baloch
New Year, New You! Is it?

New Year’s Resolutions are tricky. They’re easy to make, but a lot harder to keep. At the start of every year, we are bombarded with articles and adverts that extol the ‘New Year, New You’ mantra, whether this involves becoming vegan, using less plastic, giving up fur or investing in your beauty regimen and a gym membership. The global appetite for self-improvement doesn’t appear to be crumbling anytime soon. Call it the triumph of hope over experience: It’s a new year, full of promise and anticipation, and though your brain knows that the resolutions you make might get broken along the way, your heart impels you to list those promises anyway. Because being positive is all that matters and it is one of the only things you’re going to have besides you when everything else seems bleak at some point of time. Which we wish never happens. You outshine always!  My New Year resolution is to have a fashionista year – full of surprises, glitter, paparazzi and pizzazz runways. Is it the same for celebrities who actually live such life anyways. We find out! It clearly shows that all of them are very skeptical about making drastic resolutions, often seeing them as ‘a load of nonsense that is recycled year after year and quickly left forgotten.’ Instead, they prefer to approach the New Year as a time to realign one’s priorities, starting with the very basics and sometimes just about facing what the year throws at their face and deal with it with an uncanny strength and belief. Sanam Baloch “My resolution is to continue to have the grace to be thankful for everything including the places, things and people you’d sometimes rather just forget. Every single thing happens for a reason. Keeping up with my acting career and connecting with my fans and audiences as they want to see me more in drama serials – following my passion you know. Also it’s always the same for me - to be happier and healthier than the year before. Be kind to myself, be happy in my own skin and take more ‘me time’, just find time to do enjoyable things for myself.” Ayesha Omar “I want to make fitness a priority. I want to start exercising more and focus on strengthening my body.” Farhan Saeed “This year I have given myself the goal to make a positive difference in the lives of upcoming music artistes who are going through a definitive phase of their journey. I have been there myself and where I am now, I feel it is my responsibility to tap into my immensely talented Pakistan.” Sana Javed “My New Year’s resolution for 2019 is to make sure I create a more positive social circle for myself and eliminate all the negative things and vibes”. Sadaf Kanwal “I always end up breaking my New Year resolution. So this time I’ll try hard to keep it. I want to look after my fitness even more than this year, skip junk food and spend some more time with my family and friends.” Ramsha Khan “Nowadays everyone is so hooked to their phones that they are almost addicted to it and often happen to miss out on life’s precious little things happening around them. Since I prefer living in the moment, my resolution for the coming year is to focus less on the digital screen and more on the world and the beauty it beholds in every moment.” Junaid Khan “To be a better version of myself. Contribute in anyway possible towards giving awareness about how important human life is.” Wahaj Ali “New year is the time to make some new changes and setting some goals, my resolution for this year is to accept yourself as you are, as you see self-acceptance is really important. Just live your life, have as much faith as you can and it’s okay to be afraid, to be depress but talking to someone, taking help and don’t let fear prevent you from moving forward. Letting go and being there for someone.” Hareem Farooq “Nothing very extravagant but spending more time with my family. Something that is extremely close to my heart.” Ali Rehman Khan “Instead of making a resolution, I just plan to get into 2019 full throttle and see what the year throws my way!”

PROTAGONIST: The two-minute teaser trailer clip of the film introduces us to the protagonist Fawad Khan as the Maula Jatt, a sharp tangent from Fawadu2019s previous roles.
The game changer for Pakistani cinema

When it was announced that Bilal Lashari would be rebooting Maula Jatt, a 1979 Pakistani Punjabi language action and musical film, as a tribute to Pakistani cinema, fans of the original film could not wait to see how he would reinterpret the classic—and now they have an official teaser trailer to take in. Released early this week, the short clip of The Legend of Maula Jatt delivers some of the movie’s most iconic moments.  Starring Mahira Khan, Humaima Malick, Fawad Khan and Hamza Ali Abbasi in the lead roles, the cast also includes Gohar Rasheed, Faris Shafi, Shafqat Cheema, Nayyer Ejaz and Saima Baloch, among others.  The two-minute clip kicks off with the folklore of Maula Jatt and introduces the protagonist Fawad Khan as the Maula Jatt. It’s a sharp tangent from Fawad’s previous roles and seeing him in the teaser one understands why he couldn’t do much screen presence when he was shooting for Maula. All that added weight and muscle gain is evident. Although there’s literally no dialogue in the trailer, but I can easily recall when at a recent event Fawad said, “Maulay nu Maula na marray tay maula ni marda (Maula can only be exterminated on God’s command)” and that was enough to make us discern that nobody could’ve played Maula Jatt and done justice to Sultan Rahi, the Pakistani actor who played Maula Jatt in the original film, in today’s time but Fawad. Hamza Ali Abbasi is the cunning Noori Nath, Jatt’s arch nemeses and as the narrator explains, he and Maula will indulge in the biggest rivalry ever seen in Pakistani cinema. Mahira Khan also makes an appearance. Sporting long hair with multiple braids, proving how effortlessly with minimalism taking the centre stage she can own the screen. She plays Maula’s love interest in the film, Mukkho Jatti. Although we don’t get to see her speaking Punjabi in the trailer, but her eyes have all the expressions you need. The trailer has no dialogue except for one chilling holler, ‘Maula!’. The trailer follows the narration of Kamran Lashari who introduces us to the characters of the epic saga. The most charismatic actors of Pakistan entertainment industry, Mahira Khan and Fawad Khan, will fall in love and save the day again in The Legend of Maula Jatt, after being paired together in drama serial Humsafar (2011), on premier entertainment channel HUM TV. Although their good looks and nuanced understanding of the acting paved their way in the industry, but it was Humsafar that burst them into the limelight, not just in Pakistan but across the border as well. Ever since, both the actors have only strengthened their position, churning out one commendable performance after another. But, this reunion seems like the moment fans have been waiting for. “This will be less of a girl-boy sort of love and more of a man-woman chemistry,” Mahira said in a statement.  “I’m scared because I know there is a big chunk of people waiting for the film to see that it’s Fawad and Mahira but it’s not. I hope I’m also good in it, just the way Hamza and Humaima are, but Maula Jatt is about Maula Jatt and it’s Fawad’s,” she added. Although the cinematography and production design speak volumes about the perfectionist Bilal Lashari and no wonder it took him so much time to give us a sneak peek into the star-studded film, but the trailer only features crepuscular shots that reminds us awfully too much about Games of Thrones, Troy or any Bhansali production. People have taken over twitter saying that film seems like a cross between Padmavaat and Games of Thrones with the concept of Maula Jatt dystopia. Well it seems like it only because Brian Adler, also responsible for the visual effects in The Hunger Games, have worked on The Legend of Maula Jatt as the Visual Producer.  It’s not just Pakistani audience and notable media personalities that are in awe of the recently released trailer, but some Bollywood biggies also took over twitter to appreciate the work. “Fawad this looks amazing! Congratulations and I’m sure it will be a massive success!” tweeted Karan Johar, Bollywood director. “What a beautiful teaser and cast. Always an ardent admirer of Mahira Khan and Fawad Khan and now with Humaima Malick and Hamza Ali Abbasi, it’s a double whammy! Can’t wait to watch this one,” said Sidharth Malhotra. Alia Bhatt who played the leading role with Fawad and Sidarth Malhotra in Kapoor & Sons also praised the film’s trailer. “What a brilliant brilliant trailer,” said Alia.  From sound effects to the stunts to the wardrobe, this film can be a game changer for Pakistani cinema. The film premieres on Eid ul Fitr 2019.

Iqra Aziz
Round up: Actors who ruled screens in 2018

It’s hard to give a good performance in a drama serial; especially when it involves some location without any modern facilities and the long scheduled shoot hours, but it may be even harder to get all this hard work noticed on the television screens. Much great acting takes place in drama serials that actually aren’t all that good, in terms of budget I mean. Over the period of time Pakistan entertainment industry has realised that it’s not the star power that brings the good rating and fame to any serial but the substantial content and characters. This year, some relatively new faces swayed us, along with established names. Unfortunately, some of the roles were either dark or disturbing but nevertheless it’s about showing some love for the scads of performances that you’ll be sorry to have had missed, if you have. Here’s a selection of the very best. Iqra Aziz in Suno Chanda The 20-year-old had a very successful year with hit television dramas, including Khaamoshi (2018), Tabeer (2018) and the massively popular Suno Chanda (2018), all on HUM TV. She already has six years of experience and 15 television dramas under her belt. But, Iqra Aziz became a household name in 2018 after her performance as a chirpy and happy-go-lucky Jiya in Suno Chanda. Designers are making a beeline for featuring her in their fashion shoots and it’s easy to see why! No? Feroze Khan in Khaani Sometimes you’re stereotyped with certain sort of characters. Many actors are heedful to the concept and try in every real sense to defy such titles. But, Feroze Khan understands his charm way too well, that all those fierce eyes and expressions are ‘it’ and they sell big time. Although he has played such intense characters before, like in Gul-e-Rana (2015), on premier entertainment channel HUM TV, but his spell as Mir Hadi in Khaani (2018), on entertainment channel Geo, has to be the best till date. So before the year ends, watch Khaani. Imran Ashraf in Alif Allah Aur Insaan 2018 has been a year of new talent taking over the television screens, and Imran Ashraf is one such individual who made us realise his acting prowess with the character of Shabbo in Alif Allah Aur Insaan (2018), on HUM TV, where he played the role of a transgender. Where many actors, even established actors, would not have taken the risk with such a challenging role, Imran outdid it with perfection. From body language, to expressions and intonations in the voice – non parallel detailing and observation!  Sajal Aly in Yaqeen Ka Safar This year has proved to be quite a memorable one for Sajal Aly; She appeared in two much-discussed drama serials: Yaqeen Ka Safar and O Rangreza, both on premier entertainment channel HUM TV, and won two nominations at the prestigious Lux Style Awards 2018 for Best Actress category and bagged three Best Female Actress Awards at HUM Awards. Her role in Yaqeen Ka Safar although was a simple character of a girl that ends up finding peace with nursing profession at a hospital in the suburbs of northern areas of Pakistan, but the transformation of the rebellious and a minx girl caught up the attention of the viewers and critiques alike.  Ahad Raza Mir in Yaqeen Ka Safar Ahad is a very fine addition to the entertainment fraternity. We’ve seen him put his acting skills well to use and make audiences sway with him as he performed the emotional father-son duo scenes in Yaqeen Ka Safar. His good look gushed the viewers to fall in love with the serial and the on-screen couple: Sajal and Ahad. When you’re acting opposite to an experienced actor like Sajal, you might get a little intimidated. Was Ahad intimidated? Doesn’t seem like it!  Affan Waheed in Beydardi Although he has been in the industry and on television screens since a decade now, but, 2018 was a lucky year for him. You know how? He recently starred opposite to Aiman Khan and Iqra Aziz in Beydardi (2018), on entertainment channel ARY Digital, and premier entertainment channel HUM TV’s Khamoshi (2018), respectively. And the serials released just simultaneously, one after another. Beydardi was a tragic love story, hit by the Aids, but the portrayal of the characters was raw. The aim of the serial was to create awareness against the disease and with all those high-rise ratings, it definitely did. 

Gulf Times
Pakistan Fashion Week London: Pushing boundaries

Diversity and pushing boundaries have never been hotter in the fashion industry and this isn’t just a trend, it’s a reality. Seeing some British models sashaying down the runway in London in the fluid silhouettes, signature drapes and haute couture pieces of Pakistani fashion designers – is pure joy.  This December, 14th edition of Pakistan Fashion Week London, PR by Aamir Mazhar, took everyone in London on a whirlwind—and impossibly stylish — tour to intricate details of Pakistani couture lines and bridal wears. This odyssey is all thanks to the globally minded designers who simply refuse to see the borders. PFW London has undoubtedly conceived to allow Pakistani fashion to gain a foothold in the global fashion scene – an affair to display the Pakistan fashion trends to an international audience. If one were to chalk up the most defining qualities of the millennial Pakistani bride, attributes like individualistic, risk-taker, bold and unconventional would play the game to the most. And PFW London was a clear retort that caterwauled, that today’s bride wants her sartorial repertoire to be a narrative of her personality and sensibility; she wants her ensembles to be as high on comfort as they are on style. Lehengas, saris, kurtas – bright pink, sea of ivories or darker hues; which designer actually meshed the right traditional silhouette with modernity for millennial bride? Here’s a run-down to the top designer showcases.  Aneesa Kiyani Effortless elegance combines with strong detailing and experimental styles. Classics with a twist and dash of colours where flowers met embroideries – a rich shade of green and interesting panels of sequins work, predictable yet sparkling collection by Aneesa. With beautiful colour combinations the silhouettes were mostly modern, running the gamut from harem shalwars to anarkali, angrakhas, off shoulder blouses, full length trailing gowns and the inevitable lehngas. The rich layering to raise motifs, dabka and gota-work particularly stood out. Attire by Bushra Wahid Making a strong case for pastel, Bushra’s collection featured festive wears – everything one can effortlessly pull off for an evening. It featured nothing too extra or bling – subtle line of work, with traditional cuts and lines – staying true to Pakistani fashion with all the lace work, fabric and gotta work. Sexy cigarette pants were tailored to perfection! There was no innovation in silhouette, craft and palette, but hey this was a retail collection – that could easily be sold out for contemporary wearers. Safe collection to play with Bushra! Aisha Ibrahim Maroon, nudes and corals; Dabbka, gotta and zarri work making a heavy case for Bridals in Aisha’s case. Glittering with sequins, blending colours, merging the embellished shirt with the embellished lehnga and layering it up with the embellished dupatta; If you haven’t realised it already, embellishment was the most noticeable feature in this collection. Too much banarsi wear but its traditional and if you can pull it off – why not! The designs followed ethnic silhouettes and embellishment techniques, playing with plenty of silk, chiffon dupattas and embroideries running in a mish-mash of colour that merged well, well sometimes. Purple with maroon was block yet pleasing for some, at least for us.  Aisha Imran On a predominantly shimmery palette of maroons and tangerine with occasional pops of colour, Aisha’s collection featured traditional bridal silhouettes: ghararas, lehnga cholis and knee light heavily embroidered shirts. Silhouettes stayed safe, though, not really bothering to set new trends. One model was on the ramp wearing black stocking under a lehnga that popped out of her heels. Wait? What? Invest your time in every detail, such things ruin the entire look.  Shirin Hassan Popping with colours, the entire collection was a visual treat to contemporary silhouettes. Some sexy backlines, prints and minimalism took over the runway. The colour range ran wide, from ivory to pastels, fuschia and bright pink, this collection marked Shirin’s definitive run for the limelight. Designs were  well-constructed and neat, embellished with a pleasing mix of shimmer and embroidery. The collection was very put out featuring ensembles for every wedding festive one requires – from yellow opulence to black and maroon elegance. Setting up the beat for Pakistani fashion in London.

MODEL TURNED ACTRESS: Kiran Malik is all set to make a transition from modelling into acting as her upcoming film, Pinky Memsaab releases on December 7 in Pakistan.
Introducing the Memsaab

Making a film or drama serial that has substantial content rather than designer costumes or shooting in exotic locations abroad has far been realised by Pakistani entertainment industry. Established production houses are ready to back you if you have an intelligent script, even if the budget isn’t sky-high. Not just in Pakistan, but worldwide such short budget films have been launching careers with extremely limited resources. Can someone recall Pakistani feature film Siyaah (2013) that proved to be a launching pad for Hareem Farooq? Well now we have all our eyes on upcoming film Pinky Memsaab (Memsaab is a title for a woman in a position of authority) as it introduces Pakistan’s very own super model Kiran Malik as the protagonist in the film. With former Pakistani models-turned-actresses like Nadia Hussain, Zyalay Sirhadi, Jiya Ali and the likes of Sadaf Kanwal most recently as a proof, the leap from the runway to the big screen isn’t anything new. And in fact, it’s getting easier for runway charmers every year. And while nowadays the concept of models trying for longevity (or at least longer careers) through turns on the silver screen is in place, it seems that the path from the runway to the big screen is shorter than ever. The career opportunities begin to dwindle once the model reaches a certain age. Perhaps, this is why those who wish to continue working, jump ship to related fields.  If you have what it takes, no one can take it from you – and if you unfortunately don’t, no one can put it on you. It’s the talent that matters. Another such name from Pakistan fashion industry that is all set to make her mark on the silver screen is Kiran Malik. Kiran is all overwrought as her upcoming film, Pinky Memsaab releases on December 7 in Pakistan.  Pinky Memsaab highlights the hustle and bustle of life in the modern age and how people struggle to achieve big and lead a peaceful life, as an expatriate, at the same time. It is an international hybrid, directed by a Pakistani filmmaker, Shazia Ali Khan, with a Middle Eastern, Pakistani and Indian crew, starring both Pakistani and Indian actors. Kiran Malik stars as Mehr in the film as she essays the role of a writer, based in Middle East. Married to Adnan Jaffar, who plays the role of a banker; however, Mehr have her own insecurities and weaknesses. “Mehr is a socialite who is struggling with her life because she used to be a writer and now she’s married to a banker and her life has totally changed. She is not writer anymore but she wants to write. How she struggles and finds her way into being what she used to be is what it’s all about,” tells Kiran. It has been fourteen years since Kiran has been setting the runway on fire with her fierce eyes and a 100 watt smile. What’s changed in the Pakistan modelling industry? “When we used to model we never used to get big cheques but now models are lucky. Other than that, when we started modelling it was very difficult to convince our parents that it’s not a bad profession. So it’s so nice to see now that things have changed and tables have turned.” says Malik.  There are many models, not just in Pakistan, but worldwide who have made a successful transition from modelling to acting, including Sushmita Sen, Aishwarya Rai, Cameron Diaz and Jennifer Lawrence to name a few. However, for Kiran it was just something that came along the way. She says, “I never thought I’ll be acting. But, when I started acting, I loved every bit of it. I was never camera shy but acting and modelling are two totally different things.” Not just one but two films under her belt – awaiting release. Kiran will also be seen alongside Pakistani actor Shaan Shahid in upcoming film Zarrar (2019). On talking about her experience of working with commercial and theatre actors, she says, “Zarrar and Pinky Memsaab, both are very strong projects. Zarrar is one big budget film and stars Shaan Shahid and then there’s Pinky Memsaab, low budget film but with a very strong storyline. Shaan is a commercial actor, so working with him was a different kind of responsibility. On the other side, I was same nervous for working with Adnan even. He’s a theatre actor and he is a very raw core acting kind of a guy. Shaan taught me how to act along with the technical aspects, and Adnan gave me that comfort zone and helped me through the whole journey.” Along with Kiran Malik, the film stars Adnan Jaffar and Hajra Yamin in the lead roles.

STAR: Sajal Aly has won the award for Best Female Actress at HUM Awards three times.
The reigning queen

  This year has proved to be quite a memorable one for Sajal Aly; She appeared in two much-discussed drama serials: Yaqeen Ka Safar and O Rangreza, both on premier entertainment channel HUM TV. Sajal has been working steadily since her breakout in Mehmoodabad Ki Malkain (a family drama on the private TV channel ARY Digital in 2011) and she’s racked up a long list of accolades along the way, including winning two nominations at the prestigious Lux Style Awards 2018 for Best Actress category and bagging Best Female Actress Award at HUM Awards, not just once but thrice.  It is strange to see her on the television screen in difficult roles, that defines her intense small screen prowess, where in real life she is indissolubly refined, kind, polite and real. Well a lot of actors are in some sort of character in interviews, but the Sajal I meet is, I think, the Sajal you would meet at home. She is simply relaxed and very, very cool as she passes on a soda can and asks me to catch it instantly.  The 24-year-old’s eyes caterwauls as she moves from one project to another; completing her shoot for Aangan (Courtyard in English), an upcoming period drama serial on HUM TV starring alongside Ahad Raza Mir, Mawra Hocane, Ahsan Khan and Sonya Hussayn among others. As the first teaser of Aangan was released, there was deluge of love and appreciation from the fans of the young actress, sharing their videos dubbed with Sajal’s Aagan’s dialogues.  She laughs with gracefulness, even though her eyes are full of mischievous shine, that she then tempers with a deeper reflection or two.“Chammi is a larger than life character. She is the representation of the perseverance, heart and heart-breaking positivity. Every character in the play is equally important. Usually it happens that in a drama its one lead and the story revolves around that particular character, but in Aangan every character has its own journey. It’s about everyone involved and follows multiple beautiful characters. What makes it interesting is that it focuses on the partition of a family. The real ‘drama’ is seeing the physical and emotional divide of a country,” says Sajal Written by Mustafa Afridi, Aangan is set in 1940s touching the base of pre-partition era. Where viewers have already set a benchmark of a period drama with Daastan that was aired on HUM TV, in 2010, and featured Sanam Baloch and Fawad Khan as the protagonists. Is there any similarity between Aangan and Daastan? “Well except the timeline, there’s no similarity between the two,” says Sajal. “Why would we want to repeat the same thing? Even the shots we’ve taken are very different. You can sense that from the teasers,” she added.  The first teaser showed some intense chemistry between Sajal Aly and Ahad Raza Mir’s characters as Chammi and Jamil to which Sajal responds, “We’ve shot teasers for each character, not just me and Ahad. There are about eight teasers in total. I never wanted my teaser to come out first. But then the team decided to roll out the play with me and Ahad’s character. So here it is. You see we still have individual teasers to come out yet.” Almost a decade now since we’ve been seeing Sajal brightening up our television screens and portraying characters we can relate to in our everyday life. “For the past couple of years, I have been stressing more about me being relatable to the characters I play on screen. As an independent individual I have a certain set of principles that I follow in my life, taught to me by my beloved mother and the environment we live in; I tend to look for those principles in a script.” says Sajal Aly. Sajal Aly did Zindagi Kitni Haseen Hay, a Pakistani film in 2016, and then a Bollywood film, Mom (2017) alongside Siri Devi. So can we look forward to Sajal taking over the cinema screens yet again? “Yes. There are few things in the pipeline. But for me script is the most important thing. I’ll only go for it only if the script I’m offered is as strong as the characters I portray in my serials. I wouldn’t like to do something conventional – a deep rooted, strong character is all I’m looking forward to,” says Sajal Sajal is currently shooting for her upcoming drama serial Alif alongside Hamza Ali Abbasi, Kubra Khan and Ahsan Khan.

Ahsan Khan and Sonya Hussayn
Top Insta moments of the week

Fashion week, movie premier and glitz glam happening months are long gone which accredits to the snow fall or the chilly winds that have taken over, not just South Asia, but worldwide. But don’t worry: Instagram is still a never-ending runway of stellar outfits, intense conversations, gloomy layers and a place to let out some inner thoughts. High-impact eye moments kicked off this week’s best beauty Instagrams, a series of saturated pigments contrasting with nearly-naked lids that somehow packed a similar punch. From where our favourite celebrities travelled this week to what they wore and which new projects they’ve signed, Instagram gives an exclusive – on-spot-insight. It was a complete colour explosion on Instagram this week. From Mahira Khan’s look from recent advertisement, swaying Ali Xeeshan’s bridal piece, to Kubra Khan’s woolly winter look during the shoot – it’s all casual with hits!  So what exactly caught our attention this week? We have the lowdown. The regal beauty Mahira Khan Mahira Khan recently posted a video and BTS images of her upcoming advertisement. And when I say this, believe it – she looked stunning in traditional bridal wear by Ali Xeeshan featuring intricate convoluted embroideries, fierce and distinctive rather than forgettably pretty – a neutral-toned long-gown with plenty of sequined and feathered drama. Mahira’s minimalism in terms of makeup, hair do and jewellery adorned is a win win! Ahsan Khan and his new teaser of Aangan Ahsan Khan unveiled the third teaser of the much-anticipated drama, Aangan, featuring Sonya Hussyn and himself. Written by Mustafa Afridi, Aangan is set in 1940s touching the base of pre-partition era. While we have seen Ahsan in a pre-partition setting before in drama serial Daastan on premier entertainment channel HUM TV, Sonya has never been seen before in such a role.  The mammas boy – Feroze Khan Actor Feroze Khan shared an adorable picture with his mother in honour of her birthday with a promise to take care of her forever. What a sweet, sweet message. The guy has our heart now! The heartthrob can be seen playing Romeo in the currently airing drama, Romeo Weds Heer on Entertainment Channel Geo. Have you been following it? Ali Zafar sharing his poetry piece As for the social media-savvy music titans, Ali Zafar stood out in our feed as he shared his latest piece of poetry with his fans, taking over the social media, however, some were unable to read it, since it was in Urdu, but hey he then posted a beautiful translated recitation of the same.  Hamza Ali Abbasi’s scenic moments High up in the mountains in his winter woolly, Hamza Ali Abbasi shared a photograph right from the shoot of his upcoming drama serial Alif, to remind everyone how picturesque landscapes Pakistan has. Spotted in Kalabagh, northern hilly area of Pakistan. Fahad Hussayn: High with fashion, going online Fashion designer, Fahad Hussayn, announced Pakistan’s first ever online fashion show. We’re rooting for Fahad who makes a stellar statement every time. Be it on ramp, or photoshoots. Who needs a catwalk when you’ve got the World Wide Web. And knowing Fahad we’re counting on some drama. Kubra Khan, a sad penguin? While she called herself a sad penguin, we cannot help but obsess for how beautiful and flawless she looked, wrapped up for warmth while at a chilly hill station.There’s just something about fall weather that has people turning to the more subdued hues in their wardrobe. Kubra will be seen playing the role of Husn e Jahan in upcoming drama serial Alif alongside Hamza Ali Abbasi, Sajal Aly, Ahsan Khan, Osman Khalid Butt, Manzar Sehbai and others.  Breezy Saba Qamar As actress Saba Qamar shared the photo of herself, hair flying in the air like shaking off all the troubles in life, her effortless yet smiling face has won our hearts. How she paired a simple denim shirt is evidence that she can wear a simple garment and make it look like million dollars.

PERIOD DRAMA: Written by Mustafa Afridi, Aangan is set in 1940s touching the base of pre-partition era featuring Sajal Aly and Ahad Raza Mir, sharing an on-screen chemistry yet again after Yaqeen Ka Safar.
The partition of Aangan

With November 2018 finally here, we have myriad things to look forward to for 2019, and all the brand-new Pakistani drama serials coming to the screen is undoubtedly one of the things we’re most hyped for. Surely, this year was full of favourites — from Pakistani entertainment channel HUM TV’s Yaqeen Ka Safar (2018), starring Sajal Aly and Ahad Raza Mir, to Khaani (2018), starring Sana Javed and Feroze Khan, on entertainment channel Geo, but if the trailers and teasers for next year’s potential hits are any indication, we’re bound to have even more memorable drama serials to add to our ever-running list.  Aangan (Courtyard in English), is an upcoming period drama on HUM TV that has been making rounds on the Internet from quite some time now due its star studded cast, including Sajal Aly, Ahad Raza Mir, Mawra Hocane, Ahsan Khan and Sonya Hussayn among others. Written by Mustafa Afridi, Aangan is set in 1940s touching the base of pre-partition era. “Aangan follows the story of multiple beautiful characters; it is about everybody involved and not just one person. Partition is kind of a theme but it’s about partition at home and how families are affected by partition; the partition between father and son, partition between lovers and so on,” said Ahad Raza Mir in a statement.  Starring the much loved on-screen couple, Ahad and Sajal, the first teaser of Aangan revealed the exciting chemistry between the two. “Just thought of a poetic verse, but there’s a slight difference in its hyper-metre,” says Sajal to Ahad in a shot, and he replies, “Go on! Say it!” Sajal recites, “I’m mad in your love, you’re a burning candle and I’m a moth fearlessly ready to get burnt by you.” Ahad as Jameel seems like a shy guy who is in love with Chammi, played by Sajal, a lively girl who is a poetry enthusiast and loves to tease Jameel.  What makes Aangan so interesting and what made Sajal sign the project? Sajal says, “What makes it interesting is that it focuses on the partition of a family. The real ‘drama’ is seeing the physical and emotional divide of a country. For me it has never been about a star studded cast although it’s always great to work with a good team but the story is what draws me towards a project.” she adds, “It’s a period play and I haven’t done a period play so far. So, this is my first one and I always wanted to do one. The other best thing about this play is my character ‘Chammi’. It’s a very different character and I can’t explain in words how variant it is so you all have to watch and find out.” If you think Aangan is only about Ahad and Sajal there’s much more to this period drama. A love triangle? Maybe. “The experience of playing Aaliya has been one of a kind and Director Ehtesham has been amazing. I’m excited that I’m romancing Ahad, Ahsan Khan and another actor whose name I can’t reveal yet. But I’ll be romancing three boys and my character happens to be the narrator of the story. She is, in a way, the protagonist of the drama,” said Mawra Hocane in a statement.  “It’s nice that the entire story revolves around Aaliya. Whatever you see in the drama, you see through her eyes,” she added. “The script is so beautiful, the way it splits up into multiple tracks and the story changes in every episode. Every time, you’ll have something new to see. It’s stretched over a several decades, a long timespan,” says Mawra.

UNSOUND: Momina Mustehsan, left, alongside Ahad Raza Mir recently performed a cover of the super popular evergreen Ahmed Rushdiu2019s track, Ko Ko Korina that has elicited the red, hot rage of Pakistanu2019s audience.
Remake gone all wrong?

With his good looks and command over the small screen, Ahad Raza Mir, Pakistani actor, quickly garnered a whole lot of love and appreciation from fans, especially females, and critics alike. He proved his acting prowess in Hum TV’s Yaqeen Ka Safar (2017) that earned him New Sensation Male and Best Actor trophy at recent HUM Awards 2018. Ahad Raza Mir fans have been waiting for his Coke Studio debut ever since Season 11 kicked off. We heard that he would be making a debut with singing sensation Momina Mustehsan, which would hopefully propel his singing career the same way Afreen Afreen catapulted hers.  Momina Mustehsan, in just a span of two years, has successfully placed herself on the map of Pakistan music industry. Her short but accelerating career has been a roller coaster that only went up, until now.  Momina Mustehsan alongside Ahad Raza Mir recently performed a cover of the super popular evergreen Ahmed Rushdi’s track, Ko Ko Korina, picturised on Waheed Murad, known as Pakistan’s chocolate hero, in Coke Studio Season 11. Hours of release and the track was deluged with public scrutiny. The cover version has elicited the red, hot rage of Pakistan’s audience. In the long history of Coke Studio, it is for the very first time that any track has received more dislikes than likes on YouTube channel: 56k likes and whooping 166k dislikes with 3.1million views in total.  Amidst all heated tweets, Instagram posts and memes taking over the social media, Momina Mustehsan said, “I’m okay with people not liking it. I did my part and so did Ahad. It’s just a song. Dislike it, but there’s no need to be unnecessarily rude and crude. Dislike this, sure, but don’t discourage or jump on bashing wagons. People need to know where to draw the line.”  Concerning social media trolling many Pakistani celebrities also came out in support of the duo. Sajal Aly, Pakistani actor, recently posted on Instagram, that said, “Instead of picking each other up we don’t lose an opportunity to put others down. Why not bring a #nayeesoch (new thinking) to #nayaPakistan (new Pakistan). Spread love not hate”  Similarly Mawra Hocane, Pakistani actor, said, “We’ve all become so insensitive while we express ourselves, mock people, define careers and characters – all in the garb of giving opinions and stating facts. I urge all publications, fans and followers to be kind. It’s not okay to scar other with your words. Let there be kindness.”  Ahad Raza Mir also politely responded to the backlash. He tweeted, “I loved the way everyone got together to talk about the song. I’ve seen all the memes and I have to say they’re hilarious. Just shows the fantastic sense of humour of this nation. Trust me I take it all very positively.” He added, “I am honoured that I got to cover Ko Ko Korina. Some people enjoyed it and some not so much, which is fair. Look at how we love to appreciate and criticise. It shows our nation is alive, even after hearing the song.”  Adding to the long list of people who hated the song, Adil Murad, Waheed Murad’s son, publicly apologised for letting Coke Studio cover the song. “I profusely apologise to all Waheed Murad fans for allowing Coke Studio to remake or should I say ‘ruin’ the classic ko ko korina. I trusted the Coke Studio brand but I guess it is now completely run by idiots!” he said. The latest Coke Studio offering by Momina Mustehsan and Ahad Raza Mir although did fail to leave a mark on the listeners, disappointing many, But one cannot simply judge the credence of any performer by one performance merely.  My take? Another, comparatively easy track to make a singing debut with, would’ve been better. Ko Ko Korina, a widely celebrated song, holds the stature of being Pakistan’s first pop song and to perform such a track is an uncanny responsibility. Also, people always prefer original tracks when it comes to the old classics. When an original is so well done, why to remake in the first place?

IN STORE: Bilal Abbas Khan is currently shooting for a thriller mystery drama Cheekh, starring opposite to Saba Qamar, right, a versatile Pakistani actress.
Onwards and upwards

Bilal Abbass Khan’s big eyes widen as he looks up to Sajal Aly in drama serial O Rangreza (2018), on premier entertainment channel HUM TV, as she flings multi coloured dye powders on him. A large camera zooms in on his face, coated in a thin layer of pink colour, as he positions his hand to avoid the contact of colours with his eyes. It’s a two shot, that just stays on them and you stay with them. The scene was done so naturally and the chemistry between Sajal and Bilal was so strong that it earned them Best on Screen Couple trophy at recent Hum Awards 2018. No, the actor known for his role in O Rangreza isn’t some sort of celebrity hacker or inveterate snoop. Bilal is absurdly good-looking, and has the kind of movie-star looks and these looks-coupled with an easy-going charisma-have served Bilal well in his short but rapidly accelerating career. His career is a ‘roller coaster that only goes up,’ to borrow from Rafay Rashidi, that brought us Bilal Abbas Khan’s breakout role of Party Khan, a taboo-ridden drug addict, in Pakistani film Thora Jee Le (2017) that was not-so-appreciated flick and earned significant wrath from critics. Having picked up positive reviews for his particular role in the film, Bilal is perhaps the best thing to have come out of Thora Jee Le.  Before Bilal played a significant part in drama serial Dumpukht (2016), alongside Noman Ijaz, on entertainment channel A-Plus, and Jamal in critically acclaimed Qurban (2018), opposite to Iqra Aziz, on entertainment channel ARY Digital, he was just a young business graduate with formal training in acting, hoping to make it big in Pakistan entertainment industry. And as it turns out, initial setbacks paved the way for his major success later on. “My first – and only – feature film, Thora Jee Le, did not do well at the box office, and neither was it critically well received. Its failure disheartened me, but I chose to bounce back, fairly in a matter of no time. I don’t think that a flop project can hold me down for a long time. It’s a project by project industry, so one has to learn and tune themselves and take it as it comes,” says Bilal. Being his college mate, I still see him as a composed, shy and silent senior, which he certainly was, back then. Didn’t see him performing on stage during that time. I ask Bilal if acting was something he always wanted to do or did it just happen along the way, as a matter of fair luck. He says, “Ever since I was a kid I knew this is what I wanted to do, of course I did face a lot of hindrances, but it was my dad who supported me through all of it. Even now he’s still my biggest support system.”  Describing the aftermath of his first television gig, Bilal says, “My first project was Khush Haal Sasural, on entertainment channel ARY Zindagi. It was a soap. But, later Dumpukht with Kashif Nisar got me noticed and garnered a lot of appreciation. That’s when I thought I’ve done it.”  The 26-year-old who’s having a very successful year with television dramas, have always shared the screen space with relatively established actors, from Sajal Aly to Iqra Aziz and Samina Pirzada. On talking about his experience of working with experienced talent, Bilal says, “I feel really privileged to have worked with such great actors especially a legend like Samina Pirzada. When you work with such accomplished actors, you get to see a lot of new horizons that you can explore. Also, the inspirations you get from them makes you bring the best out of you,” He adds, “I personally feel that we learn from every person we share the screen with. Working with such talented artistes of course adds to a challenge for me, to prove my acting prowess and not let the team down.” On talking about the Pakistani film industry that has seen a bit of a revival lately, Bilal believes it still has to go a long way to make its mark with international appeal. “I believe Pakistani cinema has a lot of potential and I see our films screened across the borders, slowly building a market for itself. But right now we a have a long way to go. It’s still fairly a new industry,” says Khan.  Bilal is currently shooting for a thriller mystery drama Cheekh. The star cast includes Saba Qamar, Aijaaz Aslam, Maira Khan and Azekah Daniel. So, amidst all this action in life. How does he find inner peace? “I think my family and friends are my biggest strength. My family has been incredibly supportive and none of my friendships have changed over the course of all my high and lows, I feel that’s where my real power lies. And when you have such gems around you, you have peace within you,” says Bilal Abbas Khan, as he returns back to shooting his scenes on set.

VERSATILE: Sanam was last seen essaying the role of Suhana in Teri Raza (2017) which was swamped with a mix of positive and negative reviews.
High-octane exposé: It’s not all as it seems

The reason Karachi is Karachi is that it’s a town where someone can go from just behind the scenes spectator to seeing his or her face on a billboard. This is pretty much what happened to Sanam Baloch. Being casted opoosite to Humayun Saeed is a sort of timeless dream that lifts every showbiz striver in Pakistan entertainment industry and serves as the engine for an intense journey. So it happened with Sanam; starring in drama serial Doraha (2018) on entertainment channel Geo, directed by Mehreen Jabbar.  Having made her debut as a talk show host on KTN, a Sindhi channel, followed by a shot in Doraha (2008) and later, spectacular work in Daastan (2010), Durr-e-Shehwar (2012), Kankar (2013), all on premier entertainment channel HUM TV, and telefilm Ek Thi Marium (2016), one can clearly see how she has evolved. Sanam was last seen in entertainment channel ARY Digital’s Teri Raza (2017), which was swamped with gallimaufry of positive and negative reviews.  From the outside, Sanam can be seen to have the perfect life; A-list career woman at the top of her game with morning show and acting prowess, an enviable vacation diary, and relationship with her siblings. The actress recently revealed in an online interview Speak your Heart with Samina Pirzada, however, that when it comes to how she is portrayed in the media, not all is as it seems. Sanam was rumoured to play Husn-e-Jahan in upcoming drama serial Alif alongside Sajal Aly, Hamza Ali Abbasi and Ahsan Khan, but it seems the schedule didn’t work out between the makers and the actor due to Sanam’s strenuous morning show routine. As fans worldwide awaits Sanam to make a come back on screen after Teri Raza, Sanam feels a certain break is always important in one’s career, to keep the charm alive. “Isn’t it good if people are waiting eagerly to see you? They get bored sometimes seeing the same faces, on every channel — in every drama serial,” she revealed. “I think break is pretty important. I always used to take a three-month break after every serial even back then. I am reading scripts these days again but I’m still looking for something just right. Let’s see how things work out.” On talking about how different it is being live on television every day with a morning show, schlepping hoopla of energy, and juggling on sets as a demurred actor, Sanam says, “In acting I’m somebody else. Either I’m Bano from Daastan, Shahla from Doraha or Suhana from Teri Raza. On sets, I’m playing a character and I’m trying to understand their emotions for how those characters would respond in a particular situation. However, in the morning show, I’m me! For morning show, I don’t need to make any effort, that’s why I like it.” Sanam also discussed how she only has hazy childhood memories due to her parent’s separation when she was very young, writhing between her paternal and maternal family. “I don’t have many childhood memories,” she adds, “I consider myself lucky that when the whole episode was going on, I was very young to remember any of it. My mother took a stand against the so-called feudal system of our country. She is a very strong woman and continues to inspire us.” The actress also cleared the air about her sister Sabreen Hesbani, who sometimes is mistakenly regarded as her step sister because of their different surnames, which in fact is just a fortuitous. “Our names were registered officially in this way since childhood. Sabreen had Hesbani as her surname and she carried that and I had Baloch in official documentation so I went ahead with that. Actually we are Hesbani Baloch by cast,” Sanam explained. On talking about her marriage, Sanam said, “Me and Abdullah never planned our marriage but it just happened. We became really good friends and we thought that that’s how we would spend our life forever,” she said adding, “He is a very nice guy and we share good intentions and will always be there for each other. However, we are not friends anymore.”

SHOWSTOPPER: Aishwarya Rai Bachchan walked the ramp for Manish Malhotra at Fashion Weekend International.   Photos by Jayan Orma
Fashion high at Manish Malhotra’s showcase in Doha

Bollywood has all stepped into the fashion game as designers have learnt how to embrace the leading lights of the country, that are definitely their film stars and film stars in turn have embraced designers. Bollywood is more than just Manish Malhotra now; however he remains the designer closest to Bollywood’s heart. High fashion moments, big business and glitterati in the real sense of the world. This is how the business of fashion is unfolding in India, and we witnessed it as Manish Malhotra sent down his models on the runway alongside Aishwarya Rai Bachchan as his muse in Doha recently for an exclusive showcase. Makeup by Nabila, sponsored by Alfardan Group, Salam, Qatar Airways and QTA, PR by Qanect, the event was organised by Fab Entertainment. Everything sorted to detail. Or was it?  “We thank Manish Malhotra, Nabila, Karan Tacker and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan in making FWI’18 a spectacular success. FAB’s strategy to bring in big international media names especially from India for this event to Qatar, which is another first, is in line with Qatar’s vision to embed its tourism footprint in India. There is a huge media buzz in India and internationally about Qatar’s tourism, potential promoted by FWI’18 and hosted by FAB. We are indeed very pleased with the outcome of FWI’18 Destination Doha.” said Fauzia Vohra, CEO Fab Entertainment, in a statement. Well, Manish remains everyone’s best friend and they are there for him. The most well attended fashion show remains Manish Malhotra’s, even though he may not be the only designer for whom Bollywood celebs take to the runway. Intricate inlay craftsmanship is used to create his striking aesthetics. It’s just there, in his choice of fabric and textures, a myriad influences and how he mixes them all up to bring to the runway, an aesthetic rooted in India but still paying a nod or two or twenty to what’s happening everywhere else.  His bridals weaved their usual magic spell, not because the choreography was so sharp or the models were walking fine, both being true though, but because the clothes on display were breathtakingly beautiful. His biggest triumph is his complete authority over luxe and excellent use of fabric – chiffon, taffetas, silk, net and lace. His trademark white sarees and red lehngas are now officially famous with that painstakingly intricate detailing in crystals, pearls, jaali work, resham, sequins and jewel tones.  Typical, pretty yet well done. Manish brought traditional styles and contemporary cuts to his collection; worked in patterns, kora, dabka and mirror work. The lavish use of feathers and ruffles binging translated his take on couture lines.  Manish Malhotra’s is the design aesthetic most people go for in India. Commercially viable pieces he creates? Hugely. This guy understands the market and definitely knew how many South Asian’s in Doha are going to attend his show – he just served right. Nothing too extravagant or nothing out of inch or lines. However, he did adapt to Middle Eastern culture featuring Kaftans with intricate embroideries in delicate tones. Manish’s volume was just right – nothing extra, just the perfect cuts. He knows where to stop and make a statement.  The palette was warm that had a massive transition from gold and off-white to ice blue, mint green, fiery red and ombre ash. The bold embellishments, the over the top look, the ruffles, spiraled concoctions, sexy backless blouses and plunging necklines, all spoke of a decadent majestic era with romanticism taking the centre stage. His collection shifted from volumes and whites to linear silhouettes. The showcase concluded with Aishwarya Rai Bachchan in an ombre pink gown with magnificent feel of couture that ended with dramatic ruffles. Bling bling and rhinestones. It was great to see celebrities like Sophie Chaudhry, Bollywood actor, and Hamza Ali Abbasi and Azaan Sami, both Pakistani actors, in the front row together for Manish Malhotra. The fashion weekend was evidence that there is a potential of collaborative projects between both the countries, Pakistan and India, but is somebody going to take notice closely after Fauzia is the question. Please do! Because we want to see more wonder projects happening. It’s time people!  Gorgeously constructed with cinched waists, voluminous skirts and plethora of tassels, feather couture and perfect rucking - a reminder of what a veteran and experienced fashion designer can do and how exciting bridals is. NOTE: Fashion weeks happen worldwide and there are always huge sponsors and celebrity appearances involved. If PR worldwide can manage front row seats for actual fashion people and media who need to review the clothes that are being showcased, so can you. Just try! It should never translate into doling out tickets to sundry for a ‘shashka’ and placing media seats in the last rows. It’s excruciating to review the intricate pieces showcased, from such a distance. Fashion is a serious business people. That needs to be controlled. Another thing, it’s ridiculous to roll out emails to media people to pick out their media badges at 2pm in the afternoon from the hotel that’s on one side of the city and then come back for the actual show. Whoops! Worldwide there’s always a desk outside the event that you get the badges from, or if you don’t want any hassle and keep it exclusive – drop of the invites and badges at the respective media outlets.  Ebullient! Till next time.