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.
WITH STARS: Left, Nabila, Kartik Aaryan, Dia Mirza, Karan Johar and Ayushman Khurrana at IIFA Awards 2018.
Woman behind glowing stars

It is very interesting to see Pakistani fashion industry seething with a fresh kind of energy – younger, restless, rebellious, and embracing its veterans and grittiness. Even if you are unfamiliar with her name, chances are that you have seen her work if you follow Pakistani entertainment industry or Bollywood. Nabila Maqsood is a Pakistani makeup-artist and stylist, who is mastermind behind celebrities’ iconic looks in editorials, red carpets, ramps or on-screen. She has been a pillar of the beauty industry for over three decades. In fashion, make-up artists and stylists primarily fall into two categories; personal stylists, who keep celebrities and clients develop a signature look and editorial stylists, who create aesthetics for magazine photo shoots and advertisements. You cannot contain Nabila in one category. Wearing a Valentino or Dolce and Gabbana’s ethereal silhouettes is of no use, if your hair and make-up does not compliment your look as a package. And that is Nabila’s expertise. Nabila’s career in make-up began in 8x8 make shift salon in the servant quarter at her house, charging customers only PKR30 for haircuts in 1980s. Fast forward to today and she is the most sought-after make-up artist, stylist and an international icon. Once relegated to the backstage areas of fashion shows and award ceremonies, in recent years make-up artists and stylists have stepped out from behind the curtain and into the limelight. Her sprints involve a dozen shows a season, every editorial shoot happening in Pakistan, a team that swells to 50 at the height of a fashion week, backstage dolling up the models and her irresistible international product line ‘Zero Makeup’, which has achieved a brilliant and dernier cri status since the drop of her first minimalistic powder in 2017. ‘Zero Makeup’ showcases both her extraordinary ability to make ‘extreme makeup’ universal in its appeal, wearability and her ceaseless eye for what and who is new. She has been the make-up artist and stylist to everyone from original supermodels like Vaneeza Ahmed and Nadia Hussain, both known Pakistani models, to Shraddha Kapoor, Kriti Sanon, Anil Kapoor and Radhika Apte, all Bollywood actors. Further, she has worked for Manish Malhotra, well-known fashion designer from India, who recently had a show in Doha, and IIFA (International Indian Film Academy Awards) Awards 2018. Nabila’s visions for beauty in the future are colourful in a different sense. Community recently sat down with her to run the gamut of the rich and beautiful journey in the industry. Did you know from a young age that you wanted to work in fashion? I didn’t know that. But, all the things I was doing as a child definitely dictated that. Now I realise that they were such big signs. If I were my mother, I would’ve known at the age of seven that this child is different. I used to be very much involved in images, presenting, and style. I also used to be cautious of how people around me and I looked. Were you supported by your family? I don’t think my family really discovered my talent. But, when I discovered it and had thought of pursuing it professionally, there was no opposition, if that’s what you mean by support.  What and when was your first big break? I used to do haircut for friends and family, when I was only 11. I never worked for anyone. I started it with just an 8x8 room with one mirror and one chair at my house in servant quarters. When clients started to book and started to pay, I realised, oh really! you want to pay me for this, I must be really good. That was the biggest break, when I recognised that I’m onto something good. But then, within seven years a multinational company signed me up for the next 10 years for endorsing and consulting one of the brands. That I think gave me a lot of public exposure.  What is your styling philosophy? It is simple, effective, suitable and versatile. Whatever is required at some point. I mean less is more, but that doesn’t mean boring. What is one trend that you love right now? And one you can’t stand? The one I can’t stand is over the top. I can’t stand big hair, fake nails and stuff like that. Everyone’s now looking for fake and constructed noses and end up looking the same. Can’t really stand that! I like diversity and people looking natural. Does this mean that you will not recommend for a cosmetic surgery? I definitely would. I’m an image consultant and I recommend people who require such things [Not for make-up only]. But, that would be more corrective or to fix something that really bothers you. To know where to stop is the key. Even with plastic surgeons, I would work with them closely to get the results that would be absolutely natural and believable. Is there someone in particular who inspires your work? Vidal Sassoon was the [British-American] hairstylist, who touched the lives of many successful people in the industry. And I’m one of them. I admire his philosophy and work a lot. Otherwise, not much. I’ve paved my own way. Can you tell us about the creative process for looks that goes behind a fashion or award show? From a fashion to an award show or client, conservative or a girl next door. You have to give what’s required for the occasion. For the person it should be suitable and something they can own it. And then you still push the bar a little bit. You guide them in a direction and stop where you think it’s getting uncomfortable for them. That’s what we do really well. For fashion weeks, we work with so many designers, who have their own inspirations for their collections. We have very quick changes. We sometimes even just have eight minutes to change 32 girls and we try and accommodate all of that. We try to make a statement and we try and do something which is a current trend and then adapt it into our own sensibility. Can you tell us about an experience with a star that you would rather forget? Sometimes, some stars are very unprofessional. The fame gets to their head and they think that they can behave in a certain manner. But, I feel to be a good human is more important. Since we are very professional, we don’t really have bad experiences! What is a big no-no when it comes to dressing celebrities for the red carpet? Being effortless is very important. Being stiff and not taking yourself lightly is a big no-no. While I understand that stars need to be glamorous and need to make a statement so that their image is maintained but effortlessness is very important and – missing that – is a big no-no.  How do you approach a new client? What questions do you ask them? I like to know their fashion personality. When they walk in, I notice their height, weight, stature, posture, the way they walk, their skin, look at the hair and then I ask them their lifestyle questions including how much time do they spend on themselves, what’s their profession, which products they’re already using and if they’re open to this and that. Further I look into for what comes naturally to them and how much I can push them. Open mindedness is something that I gauge upon and give them something suitable, keeping in mind all that I observed.   How was your experience with Bollywood stars at IIFA? Do you think there’s a room for greater collaboration between the two countries?  It was my first experience at IIFA and they were so loving and welcoming. They’re just like us, they speak the same language, same skin tone, same hair and same sensibility. It’s sad to see why there’s a divide. If people are so close, why keeping them apart still.  Who or what does you think hold the movers and shakers behind for collaborations? I think it is just what it is. But people to people, it’s wonderful especially in this industry I was warmly welcomed. Even now, Manish was amazing and Aishwarya was warm and humble. You’ve styled almost every celebrity of Pakistan fashion and entertainment fraternity. How do you stand your ground? I’ve been working for 33 years now. I’ve seen a generation grow up and change. I’ve seen people who used to come for modeling auditions become big stars. I’ve seen DJ’s become superstars. I’ve seen people who have grown up, gotten married, have kids, have children getting married. I think what I’ve learnt over the period of time is that you’re responsible of the consequences for the choices you make. From films, sports, political personality, models – yes! I’ve styled a lot of people and I take pride in that. It has been amazing and inspiring for others to see for how I managed and balanced everything and yet had a voice. I had a drive and a vision and none of it was compromised along the way. I’m happy I can balance my family and work.  How do you really manage your busy schedule and family at the same time? Intelligence. You prioritise. I think it takes emotional intelligence to do all of that.  Can we look forward to Nabila introducing ‘Zero Makeup’ to Doha? Why not! Before this interview, I met a distributor here. I have a lot of women already loving the product and asking where to buy and hopefully soon it’ll be available here. Because the tones I’ve given are very neutral and it’s a very go-to palette. I was late for the meeting and I was at the seventh floor. So, I just got ready in the elevator. It’s for women who doesn’t want to look all made up and still want to look enhanced. Its portable, convenient and quick! Do you think women should stop relying on cosmetics and instead focus on grooming their hair and skin naturally first? Absolutely. I think when you come out of the shower, that’s when you need to look your best. And you need to plan your life for that. Which means good skin, good nails, manicured nails, pedicured feet, not over weight and well toned. So ideally you should look the best when you get out of the shower and then everything else is a bonus. You work on yourself which means you look fantastic without anything and just enhance yourself a little bit.  Three Pakistani celebrities you love working with? They are Babra Sharif, Sadaf Kanwal and Ali Zafar. Ali and Babra do a lot of homework on their looks, gets involved with the shooting process and are always open to experimentation. Sadaf is very adaptable. She looks good in western and eastern both.  Three Bollywood celebrities you loved working with at IIFA? I can’t name just three. All of them were amazing to work with. Saying it with all my heart and soul. What’s next for Nabila? My next decade is completely dedicated to retail. While my salons are doing really well, my focus is on building the Zero brand.  Any message for the readers? Discover your own individual style. Be unique, beautiful and confident – today and always!

DEBUT: Ahad would be making his singing debut with Coke Studio Season 11.
A man for all seasons

Ahad Raza Mir has gone through many roles since his premier entertainment channel HUM TV’s Sammi (2017) days. From proving ones 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 to swinging and flying in a fighter jet at over 50,000 feet in his silver screen debut, Parwaaz Hai Junoon (2018)  We’ve also 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. Nothing seems to faze the young actor. His on-screen attitude does not translate into his real life. He has not let success get to his head. The debonair presence and multifaceted characters he plays on screen is surprisingly displayed in his personality too – by nature he is diffident, meek and a hospitable person; virtues that make him the towering personality that he is.  Ahad is veteran actor Asif Raza Mir’s son but that is not what Ahad relies on to become a successful actor or what he wants to be his claim to fame. With his good looks and command over the small screen, the actor quickly garnered a whole lot of love and appreciation from fans, especially females, and critics alike. Heavy is the head that wears the crown – or, in this case, a pair of sunglasses, black T shirt and a trucker cap. For Ahad, though, the weight that comes with a high profile life in Pakistan entertainment industry is just the start of it. Despite this, recognition remains a life-limiting problem for him, outside, in the real world. In terms of logistics, getting from A to B isn’t simple. From Waar(2013) to Maalik (2016) and Yalghaar(2017), there have been many Pakistani films to come out as an ode to Pakistan army specifically, but recently released Parwaaz Hai Junoon is the first film to come out and cater the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) crowd. The film painted the picture of the PAF life – from the rugged training to glorious flying life of fighter pilots. Talking about how the film inspired Pakistani youth, Ahad says, “Not only it is the first film about the air-force, it is also the first film about the armed forces that took a step back from all the action and kind of looked at the real human side of our armed forces. And it kind of shows that our soldiers and pilots – as much as we try to make them seem like superheroes, they’re humans. And we touched upon that human factor, which was the best thing about the film. Hopefully it did inspire youth and make them feel that they want to join the air-force and be a part of armed forces in Pakistan.” The film featured scenes shot in extreme cold weather, Ahad Raza Mir sitting in an igloo with just enough layering to give a hint of warmth, lost in the snow-capped mountains. When I ask him how difficult shooting those scenes were, he says, “Physically, it was a challenge. When we were shooting, it was either very cold or very hot. It was never mild or in between. But I think the toughest part of the shoot was staying true to the characters.”  First we watched him on the television and then the big screen - reaching mega-star success in nearly no time. But that wasn’t enough. No, this movie star is turning musician now, wanting to express himself with a mic and a guitar. Ahad Raza Mir is all stipulated for his debut at Coke Studio Season 11. “It’s an honour to be a part of Coke Studi. Music is something I might look into soon. I can do something myself or maybe collaborate with other people. But for now I like films but I also love dramas,” says Ahad Drawing a parallel between Bollywood and fledgling Pakistani film industry, Mir says, “I don’t think it’s even fair to compare Bollywood to Pakistani cinema right now. But I think after almost thirty years break, I won’t say revival but yes we’re finally in the revolutionary phase. At the point where we are right now, I think yes in few years we’ll be at par with them. I hope we can learn from them and they can learn from us.” He adds, “Something we’re doing better here is that we are a fraction of the budget that Indian cinema has and we’re still making good films. We’re good at figuring it out. Imagine if we get our hands on big budgets.” Furthermore, Ahad Raza Mir is all set to fly back to Canada earlier next year to get back to theatre, with Shakespeare’s Hamlet no less. “I am returning to Canada. The show will be featured at various places in Canada. I’m going back to play Hamlet for The Shakespeare Company, one of the most reputable Shakespeare companies in North America. A place where I started my career from, professionally on stage. Pretty nervous but happy,” says Ahad.

Temperley London, Simone Rocha, Julien Macdonald, and Burberry
The runway that defines the global fashion trends

Comfortable and smart T-shirts/ polo dresses, high necklines and cargos for the bold, the beautiful and young happening to wear is no longer tedious; minimal and futuristic is what London Fashion Week SS19 caterwauled This London Fashion Week was the trailer of what’s coming next – the retail and couture revolution that will propel the business of fashion forward. A lot of designers changed tack and followed suit, the savvy upping their game. London Fashion Week always sets a more feminine and glamourous mood than any other fashion week happening – but sometimes one can accredit that to the jousted and loved weather of the city as well. It’s never sunny but the glamour is always tinged with punky sensibility, ruffles and sequins, supersized loud and proud. Colours were rich and decadent; with peroxide, black, navy, maroon, burgundy all making an impact - and rich textures; from shearling and cable knit, to woven fabrics, jacquard flowers, edgy cuts and embellishments on flowing silhouettes also evident. Comfortable and smart T-shirts/ polo dresses, high necklines and cargos for the bold, the beautiful and young happening to wear is no longer tedious; minimal and futuristic is what LFW SS19 caterwauled. Fashion Desk lists down top seven collections that went on the ramp this season. Victoria Beckham Whatever Beckham wears, women race to buy. She knows that and she translates it well with her collections. With her 10th anniversary show, held in a gallery right next door to her Dover Street store London, she focused on the hoopla of relatability asserting the age-inclusivity of her brand. She pushed the slouchy elegance trend with its easy, structured designs with sharp cuts that leave enough room to breathe easy – sharp being the key word. From black, white, shades of tangerine to camel brown and grey, Victoria transformed loose straight-cut dresses, giving it more form, clinching it at the waist with a same toned belt – a structuring technique common yet involving aesthetics of a great deal. Her collection was smart and appealing with every reason to sport just at any occasion. For red carpet minimalism with black floor length gown to the chilly streets of London for a shopping spree, the sophistication redefined with cuts. Burberry One can always predict earthly hues of beige taking over the centre stage for Burberry, well it always has been, but what one cannot pre-empt is their vivacious play with edgy cuts and well-tailored silhouettes. The collection featured trench-coats, one knee-length smart fitted coats, buttoned up polo shirts, piped blazers, and cinched with a broad elasticated belt – the chic appealing looks all perfectly crafted and nonchalant way more than too constructed to thread-bared. It was a cohesive and very winter specific collection. The smart close-to-the-torso suits and smart parkas were perfectly aligned with the British taste. Julien Macdonald From head designer of knitwear at Chanel to paving his way as a Creative Director of Givenchy, designing both Haute couture and ready-to-wear collections, this guy has experience that speaks volume of his aesthetics and while being playful and relaxed yet daring and sporty he took over the runway. It seemed as if it was too easy for him to design for a finale show – too smooth with body fitted gowns, sequins breaking off the runway glamour, sexy in the stereotypical sense of the word. Sharp-shouldered, clingy, barely there, butt-baring, diaphanous; the illusion/nude/shock-value – dresses that radiated spark for party. The dresses were more party-focused than professionally oriented, but Julien knows his work well and has huge clientele worldwide. Luxe was there with unimaginable objectifying glamour. Simone Rocha When Rihaana was spotted wearing Simone’s white brocade jacket and matching pencil skirt, the designer was in headlines for weeks. And why not! When your work speaks volume of your craftsmanship, that’s exactly what you deserve. Sequin-embroidered peplum and balloon dresses, expressive deep clouds taking over the clear sky, not so fitted pants, letting the fabric flow, feminine prints in abstract and floral patterns with neon rays, oversized tops and coats caped down with net, lace and chiffon trimmed veils and prints of antique paintings of Tang dynasty beauties on flowing cocktail dresses, all radiated Simone’s trademark cutting-edge design. She displayed her expert craftsmanship in the art. Christopher Kane High necklines, full-length sleeves, and ankle-grazing dresses is exactly what we spotted at Christopher Kane’s show and it was sexy! Christopher featured a loud and edgy collection. Blush pink mesh skirts were met with drop hem and cape-like shirting whilst mules were updated with crystals and cut outs. Double strapped sandals paired with oversized suiting and delicate silk split dominated the runway with the Midas touch accompanied by oversized lapel blazers with ruffles shirts, layering and sartorial details. Gotta love the brown self-check power suit in this monochromatic ensemble! Temperley London Temperley featured 28 looks in the palette of blush pink, faded black, mist of tangerine and pistachio– with crystals and delicate embroidery work; the chic appealing looks, all too perfectly detailed. Few slipped to the formal gowns but others were day wear and cocktail dresses and few kaaftans epitomised by modern bohemianism with a confident, feminine and effortless attitude. It’s sunny, pretty and feminine in a more austere vein than crazy, luxury and blingy, but hey you’ve got to love the versatility! Most of the pieces that came out on the runway were beach perfect, were going effortless yet fashionable is all you want! Couleurs parfaits honey! Mary Katrantzou Prints prints, psychedelic taffeta and extravagant touch of animalier; exotic prints, block colours, basic monochrome and perfectly aesthetic couture pieces in a hint of clash prints, Mary Katrantazou has definitely refined her signature aesthetic and has expanded the complexity of her textile beyond print, translating her visuals to knit, digital craftsmanship, lace, and a focus on form – which was evident on the runway. Her sometimes flowing and sometimes contained fabric and cuts were clean enough that she went for minimalism for her pieces with sequins or other flashy glitz to set the ramp on fire. Her pieces were well structured and most of them till knee length. Where it might be difficult to translate these to retail, but we might spot a celebrity or two sporting Mary at the red carpet galore. Christopher Kane, Mary Katrantzou, and Victoria Beckham

CENTRE STAGE: Mohsin Abbass Haider, centre, with Sadaf Kanwal, left, and Amna Ilyas, during their performance on stage.
Sifting real style, fashion at HUM Style Awards 2018

The Pakistani fashion industry is flourishing. Karachi’s youth game is unmatched in the competing capitals, but there is also a blazing tension between the experimental side of Pakistan fashion industry and the establishment of going classic. Going classic wins the game of sartorial fashion, well usually, but this season HUM Style Awards 2018 gives the hint of something otherwise, hurling the fashion forte with millennials. The electric tension between huge power houses and emerging designers makes for an unpredictable award show with winner list you can’t really pre-empt. The ceremony was an emotionally charged celebration as the fashion’s finest paid homage to industry veterans of the past and the bright young things of the future.   Where the perceptive Shamoon Sultan of Khaadi (Best Retail) takes the brand to a whole new level with cutting edge, practical designs and his clothes that are even more ingenious when one begins to explore the garment construction – the zany style aesthetics, it is the unassailable layering of Sania Maskatiya (Best Bridal) that protrudes her in the ceaseless list of designers existing nationwide. Sania defines bridal with her painstakingly intricate details, embroideries and sheer cuts. Playing with bridals has been an idea that seemed unfathomable few years from now, but in no time we’re all calling Sania a change – maker, for the aesthetics and volume she brings to a traditional bridal wear.  Hosted by Ainy Jaffri, Ahmed Ali Akbar, Asim Azhar and Syra Shahroze, the evening was a wonderful mesh of many elements. In the realm of artistes with an experience of hosting a show as big as this, Ainy is comparatively a new face. At times it seemed like she had forgotten she was on stage and spoke as if she was having a mundane conversation somewhere; however, others were much calmer and level headed. The spot-on script made one wonder why Faheem Azam had not taken the charge long before. I’ve seen him in theatre and stand up comedy shows he conducts, and I mean it, he deserves an ovation for all the witty humour he brings on the table effortlessly. Sometimes it comes from within and that’s exactly what defines Faheem.  HUM Style Awards 2018 did not disappoint with the glamour and the sizzling power packed performances choreographed by Shazi Khan and Abdul Ghani. The four hosts of the show opened the night with a performance on an original Pakistani music track sung by Asim Azhar himself, well the only Pakistani track we got to hear the entire evening. Spooky for an award show celebrating Pakistani fashion, content and style. It was still a fantastic night of racy performances – some of them a lot of fun, like Sadaf Kanwal, Amna Ilyas and Mohsin Abbass Haider’s rise to dance and those thumkas on Tamma Tamma Loge, Kabhi Aar Kabhi Paar, Yeh Mera Dil and Mehbooba Mehbooba. These super model girls can dance, so why, not dedicate the entire style platform to them only especially when their forte - fashion is being celebrated. But why wearing green net Tinker Bell dresses for the performance? A little glamour to the outfits would’ve sparked the performance to a whole new level though.  Iqra Aziz and Farhan Saeed, the Suno Chanda duo, shaking a leg together for the first time on a very Punjabi beat, and then, Feroze Khan’s conquest of the dance floor was also a lot of fun; he always knows what he’s doing and does it well. New faces are taking over the fashion editorials, and why not. Call me biased, but it’s the dynamic diversity that makes fashion industry, the world’s best breeding ground for idea. If you’ve seen her in campaigns, you’ll agree that the new face Anam Malik brings the sexy appeal with her exotic features in the photoshoots and her earning Most Stylish Female Award was a cinch. Where Anam was game for the prize, jury had to hand the award for Most Stylish Model Male to Aimal Khan for the campaigns and appearances he has been giving lately. Is there any brand left Aimal?  Despite the umpteen designers who’ve signed up with umpteen textile mills with vast resources at their disposal, the event of year remains Elan lawn. The loyalists keep coming back to their quality; Khadija Shah ensures pure silk and pure chiffon, not synthetic material and the lawn itself wears well and lasts.  Where it was a triumph for Zara Shahjahan, who bagged the Best Pret Wear award this very season, the look of haute couture pieces of Zaheer Abbas are always touched with a sense of colour and play, glowing the sophisticated cuts, feathers, layers and silhouettes with a dash of heritage. And yes, Zaheer Abbas bagging the award for Best Demi Couture Designer is no surprise.  Men’s fashion has seen a convivial and an off-centre take thanks to HSY and Jazib Qamar, while Deepak and Fahad are the go-to designers for everyday wears. Yet there’s no denying the sharp tailoring that comes from Republic by Omar Farooq, which brought international cuts to the fore in Pakistan. He has done tremendously well for men’s wear and him walking away with the trophy yet again was not a surprise at all. The most stylish film actor male and female awards were bagged by Ali Rehman Khan and Hania Amir, respectively. Well we totally agree with the narrative of Ali winning the award, after all his one hazel gaze is enough to give you heart palpitations but Hania wasn’t really the best choice. We would’ve bet on Sanam Saeed, especially considering how her dusky complexion compliments her diva stature.Ayesha Omer grabbed the statuette for the Most Stylish TV Host; Iqra Aziz for the Most Stylish TV Actor Female and Adnan Siddiqui for the Male category. Adnan’s win did raise the eyebrows, right? Especially when heartthrobs like Emad Irfani and Mikaal Zulfiqar were nominated in the same category.  It might not have been a fair win or lose for everyone, but HUM has patently raised the bar for acknowledging the fashion and entertainment of Pakistani industry.

APPEAL: Parwaaz Hai Junoon is the first film of the sort to come out and cater the air force crowd. Right: FAMILY DRAMA: The film-makers, Nabeel Qureshi and Fizza Ali Meerza, steps out of their comfort zone, touching the boundaries of a family drama, dealing with societal and family pressures with a pinch of humour.
Most hyped Pakistani films releasing this Eid al-Adha

With Eid al-Adha finally here, we have myriad things to look forward to. In the plethora of designer Eid collections and Eid festivals happening around us, the new Pakistani films coming out to the silver screen is undoubtedly one of the things we’re most hyped for. Surely last year was full of favourites – from Balu Mahi to Punjab Nahin Jaungi and Verna – but if the trailers and teasers for this year’s potential hits are any indication, we’re bound to have even more memorable films to add to the list of our ever-running Pakistani films. We all loved the entice of Punjab Nahin Jaungi that even after a hard day at work brought smiles with Humayun’s a-typical dialogue “Help me Durtana”,and there’s no doubt that well-made romantic, comedy and never-ending drama films are always high on our list of must-watches. That said, we couldn’t be more ready to see the fledgling Pakistani film industry making a bit of a revival. Check out these two Pakistani movies that we won’t be missing, as they release this Eid al-Adha. Load Wedding Apart from taking roots from cultural heritage and Punjab picturesque giving film the aesthetic backdrop, there are plenty of things that are having us count down the days until Load Wedding comes out. From the trailer, the film seems to be as eccentric as the name suggests, offering tongue-in-cheek and chillingly calm humour with Fahad Mustafa and Mehwish Hayat in the lead roles. We’ve seen Fahad and Mehwish share on-screen chemistry before in Actor in Law as well, following the same comedy genre. They have bawdy chemistry, and a kind of hanging-out comedic naturalism that makes Load Wedding seem better than it is. The recently released music album of the film hints that the romance and drama takes the centre-stage as the film-makers Nabeel Qureshi and Fizza Ali Meerza steps out of their comfort zone, touching the boundaries of a family drama, dealing with societal and family pressures with a pinch of humour. Load Wedding’s latest song release, Kooch na Karein might just be the one on everyone’s playlist lately. Sung by Azhar Abbas, the song offers the best combination of lyrics, music and vocals, capturing the feelings of love and emotions of Raja and Meeru way too perfectly. Plus, it’s suffused with a warm, summery light and is genuinely funny in places. If you intend spending some quality time with your family. This is your catch!  Parwaaz Hai Junoon There’s no way that this big tribute to Pakistan airforce isn’t going to be awesome. Although there have been many Pakistani films to come out, related to Pakistan military, but PHJ obtrudes as the first film of the sort to cater the air force crowd. Hamza Ali Abbasi is in it. We could stop there, but we’ll add that other cast members include the young starlet who made her acting debut with Jaanan (2016) and later shot into prominence for being the part of Na Maloom Afraaad 2 (2017), Hania Amir, and the new boy in town who has taken over the show businesses industry with storm, Ahad Raza Mir.  But wait, if you think this is a routine schmaltz and struggle about an airforce officer who wants to serve the country, then there’s more here to feast on, confirmed Ahad Raza Mir in a statement, “We’ve stepped back from all the action and have tried to look at the real emotional and human side of the airforce. It shows that our soldiers and our pilots seem like superheroes but they’re also human at the same time. And that’s the human factor we’ve touched upon. That’s the best part about the film and the aspect we’ve tried to explore.”  The film overall seems to offer some good music soundtracks. The shaadi song, Naache Re and Thaam Lo gets one tap-tapping compulsively to the song lyrics. Where former is sung by Atif Aslam, empowering a beautiful, soft melody with stunning visuals, the later employs some husky vocals of Zeb Bangash with all the fun and colourful wardrobes taking over the silver screen.

PHILANTHROPY: Following the release of her last album Nazia shifted her focus to philanthropic work abroad, and also worked for the Department of Political and Security Council Affairs at United Nations - New York.
The eternal legend of pop

Could any girl imagine wearing a red jump suit, high waisted belt, mic in hand, jostling shoulder and appearing on a national television screen in the Pakistan of 1980s? Well, she dared! There was something eminent about Nazia Hassan that caterwauled her being a Pakistani, yet there existed a transcendental facet to every music she produced that caught attention of the ears accustomed to listening Noor Jahan or Farida Khanum. Pakistan has over the decades produced some quality music and a number of musicians taking over the centre stage with domestic and international acclaim, but about Nazia Hassan there’s a certain pristine quality that has the power of eternity.  The late pop sensation was just a child when she began her singing career during the 1970s. She started off with small appearances on several television shows on PTV as a child artiste and then went on to create a legacy of her own. The Hassan siblings, Nazia and Zohaib Hassan, were in England when they discovered the fiery music scene of Johnny and Marrie, Jackson 5 and Carpenters.  Around the time they met Indian composer Biddu, UK-based Indian music producer, who was then relatively unknown and meshed the two worlds of music together, the eastern melodies with modern orchestration to produce Aap Jaisa Koi for Qurbani (1980), picturised on Zeenat Aman, Feroze Khan and Vinod Khanna. The orchestration of Aap Jaisa Koi, is only half the story of its success; the other, and more significant half is the husky voice of Nazia, which came like a whiff of fresh air in the stuffy setting of cine songdom. Not many people in India knew Nazia, they only knew it was an exciting new voice they were hearing in Baat ban jaaye, their response to it was instinctive. They liked what they heard, that went through one ear, instead of going out from the other, was transmitted down to the foot, which compulsively began tap-tapping to the song lyrics.  By 1981, Nazia was reading aloud from her first foray into the music realm – Aap Jaisa Koi, winning her the Filmfare Best Female Singer award when she was merely 15 years old, the youngest recipient of the award todate.  Where in the west there was Michael Jackson and Madonna, for the South Asian music lovers, it was Nazia Hassan. You think it might be unfair to draw a parallel between them. Well, it’s not so out of place. Nazia was the the first South Asian musician to compose disco-inspired dance music.  Such was Nazia’s success that it was once said that she surpassed Lata Mangeshkar, Indian playback singer, both in terms of sale and popularity. Lata’s biographer Raju Bhartan however posed a question: “Were there, then, no serious challenges to Lata in her long singing career?” He responds, “There was a happening in Lata’s life and time that made a mere teenager despair for her. That teenybopper was Nazia Hassan.” Nazia then collaborated with Biddu, to produce the album Disco Deewane that created a new genre of Bollywood pop music that persists today. Disco Deewane made the charts in 14 countries and became the best-selling Asian pop album.  She later worked with her brother, Zohaib Hassan, to release four more non-film albums, Boom Boom (1982), Young Tarang (1984), Hotline (1987) and Camera Camera (1992). Disco Deewane and Boom Boom are songs still treasured by their fans – so much so that Karan Johar did a remake of Disco Deewane for his Student of the Year (2012). The brother-sister duo also made several appearances on Pakistan Television (PTV) throughout the ‘80s, and jointly hosted the show Music’89 that served as the launching pad for many new talents including Vital Signs, Ali Haider, Sajjad Ali and Strings.  The fusion sound that came naturally to Nazia and Zohaib was also subjected to intense scrutiny in the early years of their music career. But the traditionalists could not halt the rock-‘n’ –roll trend. What was perhaps, most striking about the siblings phenomenon, was the pair’s ability to convey the resentments and desires of a whole generation of young people growing up in the 1980s. Coveted as the only singers from Pakistan to have performed for Nelson Mandela, they also started off with a focus on social causes including drug abuse campaign, using music to reach far off places. Nasha Na Karo (Don’t Smoke) one of the sound-tracks produced as part of their campaign and organisation, BAN (Battle Against Narcotics).  At home, the success of the siblings created not only a sense of newfound respectability towards, and awareness of the music industry as a worthy field, it also offered a fresh breath of air to the suffocated youngsters disillusioned by limited creative opportunities during that time. Engineers, doctors and even young military officers, picked up guitars; If Nazia and Zohaib can do it, people thought, then so can we. Between the time of rising to fame, getting married and realising the harsh realities of life with a failed marriage, Nazia got Business Administration degree from Richmond American University and Law degree from London University. Following the release of her last album Nazia shifted her focus to philanthropic work abroad, and also worked for the Department of Political and Security Council Affairs at United Nations - New York.  It’s no shocker that Bollywood has decided to make a movie on the lives of the two legends, Nazia and Zohaib Hassan and Alia Bhatt is speculated to play the pop icon’s role. Eighteen years ago, on August 13, 2000, the shining light, Nazia lost her battle with cancer at the young age of 35 in London. Indeed, one doesn’t have to look too far for that immortal baritone voice, constantly poking out from the covers of commemorative magazine issues in full length dupattas with the innocent smile.

Mahira Khan; Fawad Khan and Hania Aamir
Toast of the town: Celebrities who stepped out en vogue

As Pakistan entertainment industry celebrated Pakistan’s most cogitated golden statuettes, 6th HUM awards recently in Toronto, we saw some head-turner appearances on the red carpet. In terms of the style, this year’s big fashion story was a preference for the palest of hues. From sparkling metallics, to chick sleek and bolder colour choices, the red carpet was filled with plenty of encore worthy looks, a pinnacle of iconic style. Badly structured silhouettes, too blingy couture lines, awkward poses and dodgy hairdos are often part of the narrative, but with sprinkling A-list stylists, designers and makeup artists working strenuously behind the scenes, every attendee pulls out all the stops when it comes to their red carpet looks. Not only did our favourite stars push the envelope in their respective nominations but they also stepped it up with on the red carpet as well. From classic Anarkali glamour to bold neon, fluttery ruffles, crystals aplenty and vintage gathered strapless gown, there are plenty of looks that broke the mold for awards season style. The fashion desk curates the hottest red carpet looks that made the cut this year. Vaneeza Ahmed; Mawra Hocane and Hareem Farooq Mahira Khan: Anyone who has seen Mahira Khan at Cannes, or any other big-time red-carpet event can probably agree on the narrative: the woman knows how to make an entrance. She’s the red-carpet professional and HUM Awards was no exception. Sporting staggering nativity scene and minimalism taking over the centre stage, Mahira opted for a traditional full-length Elan ensemble with intricate details, zardozi work in white-on-white and silver colour palette sheer-bodice, complimenting printed border on the rich chiffon dupatta. The chiffon layer complimented the faded printed floral pattern in blush pink, exceptionally protruding Khadija Shah’s creation as the most buzzed-about ensembles and the favourite red carpet feminine appeal – remixing optic florals on florals. Very eastern and traditional shimmery finish! Fawad Khan Fawad made an appearance on the red carpet after quite long, but does he ever fail to look good! Republic by Omer Farooq has established itself as the go-to designer for everyday and formal wear and whenever Fawad is spotted sporting his creation, it’s always a tip-off that some exciting collection is under way. It’s always a teaser Republic throws off. Fawad’s sharp tailored suit that comes from Republic, brings international cuts and sharp edgy lapels to the fore, upstaging the mantra of menswear. Plain white pocket square, three trifling lapel pins and a slim black-tie caterwauled masculinity with appealing approach.  Hania Amir Embracing the acid tones, Hania Amir went for full sparkle of fabulosity and wit in neon strapless gown by Husain Rehar. It was fresh and bright yellow – radiating the fashion aesthetics of sleek and edgy cuts, as she draped a net organza french blue dupatta - a very hot combination. Slicked back hair and lack of bling, a perfect twist right on time. If you’re taking an inspiration and just not ready yet to dare with all-neon look, you can try a little mesh with texture and chromatic colours but for fashion get-goers Hania is a winner with this exotic look.  Vaneeza Ahmed This woman knows how to keep it sophisticated and make an elegant statement, Vaneeza opted for Faraz Manan’s ethereal pantsuit featuring his trademark intricate embellishments, delicate details and romantic lace in all-white palette. Vinnie alluded to, rather flaunted the flared pants. With tired notions of haute couture gowns, very shadi wears and blingy plethora of sequins going by the wayside, no bling is a phenomenon we expect to stick around for a while. Mawra Hocane  Proving there’s no better accessory than luminous skin and peach nude lipstick and blush-on, Mawra Hocane made an appearance with a glowing complexion that even outshined her dull peach couture dress with plunging décolletage. If you couldn’t already tell from the sexy silhouette, the ruffled gown trailed, is by Manish Malhotra. Mawra rocked every inch of the look with loose natural curls and no accessory mantra. The dress, which featured an off shoulder draped back, was a fitting look for the actress as she adorned a thousand-watt smile.  Hareem Farooq Hareem Farooq opted for simple contrasts, the monochrome by Zaheer Abbas. Black full-length skirt with white blouse was the most effective chic look, mirrored in clean cut lines and sharp silhouettes, sleeves giving a hint of individuality with a deep shadow of Victorian Era sleeves. The perfect pattern play, couture detailing and design by Zaheer Abbas played its part in this style timeline. Curling hair on one side, minimalism with accessories and dark maroon lip shade – all Hollywood perfect! 

CENTRE-STAGE: Mahira Khan during her performance on stage.
A starry night of recognition

After a turbulent year in Pakistan entertainment industry, release of one film after another, drama serials scoring high and actors going beyond borders for recognition, all eyes were on the main event: the 6th HUM Awards. Time to find out whether crowd favourites left empty-handed or the underdogs swept the show with the winners. As the industry celebrated one of Pakistan’s most cogitated golden statuettes of Pakistan, held in Toronto recently, came with the fair share of snubs and surprises. Well, there’s nothing new about it, you can always expect surprises at this event but knowing where to expect them is tricky. This year they came early, offering some hair-raising spectacles and the others, well, leaving a sour note. From the new sensation on the block who this year has started to make waves in the industry and already stipulated to make a silver screen debut, to the Excellence in Cinema Award for a woman who took over Lollywood with storm during her time; there are lots of surprises and predicted winners with lots of familiar faces in what is arguably, the most definitive selection of entertainment industry.  As expected, political zingers from host Yasir Hussain and Sanam Jung charmed the audiences at their gig. Yasir’s desi comedy did get a reality check and of course in a good way after his abominable and slipping comments last year, that forced the public and media backlash. Similar script and tiredness in content as Yasir gets synonymous with comic acts, but that doesn’t really matter till he’s successful enough in bringing humour to a five hours long show. Isn’t it? Power packed performances, including the young lot of the entertainment industry taking over the stage to Mahira Khan’s performance, it was nice to see all coming together. Not only did our favourite stars push the envelope in their respective nominated categories, but they also stepped it up on the red carpet as well. Although actress Mahira Khan is a really good dancer, and has always proved her raw talent worldwide, but the dress she sported for her performance wasn’t just ‘it’. The deep blue silhouette paired with Kajra and tied up hair, couldn’t really do justice to the current cine queen, who set the stage alight. One could always censure why Lollywood must dance to Bollywood tunes. There is no denying the latter’s influence in the Pakistani pop culture and more so in the entertainment arena but, since Pakistani movies are rolling in with real substance lately, the awards this season was an effort to promote Pakistani content. Even Raees’s Zaalima was re-done as a cover track for Mahira’s performance! Where last year’s award belonged to Sania Saeed’s starrer Sang-e-Mar Mar, this time it was the turn of Alif Allah Aur Insaan and Yaqeen Ka Safar to win big. Where the former won six out of 18 total in television category, the most of the ceremony, including Best Actor in Supporting Role – Male/Female, Best Actor in a Negative Role, Best Writer Drama Serial, Best Director Drama Serial – Jury, Most Impactful Character in Serial and Best Drama Serial – Jury, Yaqeen Ka Safar bagged five on a night of recognition. Where actor Humayun Saeed is considered a regular when it comes to performing, actresses Hareem Farooq, Kubra Khan and Hania Amir were an absolute surprise, and definitely in a good way. It was a fantastic night of racy performers where, Ahad Raza Mir, Hamza Ali Abbasi and Mikaal Zulfiqar, for instance, put in the most rousing act of a resplendent evening.  The Best Female and Male Actor — Popular category had a mix of actors who have perfected their own style. But Mahira Khan and Humayun Saeed continue to get bigger and better every year and their claim to the trophy of Recognition Awards in Film was indisputable. Where Reema took the award for Excellence in Cinema, the night belonged to Sajal Aly however, winning Best Actor(Female) Drama Serial — Jury and Popular. As for Best Actor (Popular), who else could have won but the new fine addition to Pakistan entertainment fraternity: Ahad Raza Mir.

FILMMAKER: u201cBeing a producer of a film is a huge responsibility, but it also allows me to thoroughly enjoy the filmmaking process,u201d says Sheheryar Munawar Siddiqui.
Paray Hut Love – Sheheryar Munawar’s debut as a producer

Before he tried his luck on the silver screen, he appeared in a couple of drama serials, but it was the silver screen phenomena that set his stars in motion. Sheheryar Munawar Siddiqui has made a name for himself playing big-screen paragon of a chocolate hero as Arhan in Ho Mann Jahan (2016). He went on, of course, to grow as an actor and affix his stardom playing a non-straight character of Tipu in recently released 7 Din Mohabbat In.  Both his films starred him opposite Mahira Khan and the magic they bring together on-screen with uncanny chemistry between the two, speaks for itself as the film takes the box office run. Now Munawar is returning to type – and this time taking over the role of a producer as well with Paray Hut Love, hilarious, scathing and a romantic film. The film is scheduled to go on floors from September and release on Eid al-Adha 2019.  Only a few weeks ago, we heard the news of Mahira Khan being roped in for the upcoming venture, directed by Asim Raza, who is back at directing film after a two-year hiatus. However, it has now been confirmed that Maya Ali of Mann Mayal fame and recently rising to stardom with Teefa in Trouble will be replacing the Raees actor in Paray Hut Love.  Revealing details of his upcoming film, Sheheryar said, “Paray Hut Love is a romantic comedy drama.” Written by Imran Aslam, satirical and ultimately compassionate, the film is an unlikely romance between a young-free willed, commitment phobic man and a beautiful, strong headed woman.  Although we’ve seen Mahira and Sheheryar bringing together an impeccable chemistry on-screen, which also accredits to a strong bond of friendship they share, when asked for whether he and Maya would be able to display the same in Paray Hut Love he responded, “We wouldn’t be working together if we didn’t think we can work well together.”  Don’t lose your heart just now. It has been confirmed that although Mahira Khan is not the leading woman, we would still be catching up with her in the upcoming film. “Mahira is playing a very special part in the film,” Asim said in a statement.  When questioned on why Mahira was replaced, Asim said, “Mahira was facing major date issues but there’s no doubt that she has a very special place in my heart. No-one can ever replace her. As Sheheryar Munawar turns producer for the film, so too his responsibilities for the actor. It is quite strenuous to be on-screen and behind the camera at the same time, whilst making sure everything goes smoothly as planned and with attention-to-detail. But the idea of increased responsibility doesn’t seem to faze the young actor. “Of course, being a producer of a film is a huge responsibility but it also allows me to thoroughly enjoy the film making process,” Sheheryar said.  Apart from Maya and Sheheryar, the all-star cast includes Nadeem Baig, Hina Dilpazeer, Ahmed Ali Butt, Zara Noor Abbas among others. The indomitable trending of black Black always remains the indomitable trend, be it for the red carpet or any unorthodox appearance. Although swathes of colour and sequins remains the order of the day, but it’s black that eclipses any other silhouette or couture in line. Everything, from glamorous gowns, that speaks volumes, to powerful suits, the chic tailor pants and sleek body fitted jackets lends to the colour. Creativity is always a win on the red carpet, well mostly. You need to balance a look between sequins, plunging necklines, edgy colours, clean lines and sultry slits. If you’re on just one side of the spectrum, you’ve lost it. Though gowns are usually a go-to for the celebrities, but an effortless denim and jumpsuits can do wonders, too. Shimmer that lasts for days, fabulous feathers, floral appliques, protuberant flower patterns or a simple silhouette playing around the lines of tailored cuts. Deserving of applause or not, it all depends on how the celebrity trails through with everything on perfect. We note down the two women that recently went through a sea change of girl-next-door to a diva status, trailing all black with their recent appearances.   Maya Ali While riding high on popularity with Teefa in Trouble and bagging another role in Asim Raza’s next, Maya Ali went bold and sassy as she sparkled in silk silhouette by Nomi Ansari for the premiere night of her film. Tailored yet alluring full length gown, in deep-rooted black with jacquard flowers, was a mega slouchy appearance. Clean lines and a classy take on black with applique neckline, and intricate use of flowers to add a hint of personality by Ansari was for one simple reason – to make the woman look like a million dollars as she walks down the red carpet with awaiting paparazzi, keeping an eye on each twirl and the smile of confidence. With loose curls, it was a winner this season.  Sanam Baloch   After being the part of quotidian world of morning shows for about 5 years now, her appearance on a recent television show came as a surprise to us as she channelled a Sania Maskatiya knee length one-shoulder gown, way too effortlessly than imagined. Sanam has always made appearances in very eastern attires, but her recent fashion choices have hailed her as the young bright spark. Clean lines and a classy take on all things, especially the tailored neckline and perfectly structured silhouette in silk with intricate use of geometry and a symmetry of shape have made Maskatiya a talked about collection of sleek evening gowns which one can also carry in a bright sunny day. Sanam took it easy, minimalism taking over the centre stage, having fun with fashion as luxe get comfy, pairing with high black stilettos and rolling down her all puffy hair on one side of the shoulder, not drawing too much attention. Va Va Voom!

GOING INTERNATIONAL: In collaboration with Zee Studios, Load Wedding is expected to release globally this Eid ul Azha.
Load Wedding goes global

In a country where once the cinema scene had almost desensitised, the duo came, saw and conquered. If you’ve been following Lollywood lately, there’s no way you don’t know who the Filmwala directors are. They gave a new dimension to the silver screen with Na Maloom Afraad (NMA) in 2014, proving themselves to be one of the most prolific filmmaking teams in Pakistan after producing social satire in films like Actor in Law in 2016 and NMA2 in 2017. Now, their fourth film, Load Wedding, is all set for release this Eid ul Azha. Filmmakers Fizza Ali Meerza and Nabeel Qureshi are obviously doing their bit to raise the flag for Pakistani cinema which has seen a substantial revival lately.  The film is as eccentric as the name suggests, offering tongue-in-cheek and chillingly calm humour with Fahad Mustafa and Mehwish Hayat in the lead roles, following a love story set in a small town in Punjab. We’ve seen Fahad and Mehwish share on-screen chemistry before in Actor in Law, bounded by the same comedy genre, but it’s their raw character in Load Wedding that sets them apart from any character they’ve played before. “Mehwish and Fahad are very absorbent and versatile actors, and they don’t seem like starry actors placed merely in a setting where they do not belong. They’re very organic and have gone to a huge extent to make you believe they’re Raja and Miru and not Fahad and Mehwish,” Fizza said recently.   Load Wedding is also the first time Qureshi and Meerza have moved out of Karachi, which provided the backdrop for their previous films. Writer-director Nabeel Qureshi has stepped out of his comfort zone with the film as it gets to and touches the boundaries of a family drama, dealing with societal and family pressures with its own light heartedly punched content and story line. “We always take pop cultural references and knit our stories and humour around it. This film has its own way of pleasing people with an interesting pinch of humour. “It’s a very relatable film with the content taking roots from cultural heritage,” Nabeel said.  The duo has recently collaborated with one of the most reputable and biggest media houses in Asia, Zee Studios, for the global release of the film, including USA, Canada, UK, Middle East, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Mauritius.  About going global, Nabeel said, “The way we’ve shot the film will definitely make Pakistanis living abroad nostalgic about their country and their roots. As a filmmaker, we have a responsibility to tell stories that are relatable to Pakistani audiences and, at the same time, raising the bar for storytelling.” Speaking about this momentous partnership Fizza Ali Meerza noted, “This is a great moment for Pakistani cinema and it just feels phenomenal to be able to take the film to so many new markets with this amazing collaboration. Zee Studios International has an immense reach across the globe, we are just honoured that they felt Load Wedding was the right Pakistani film for them to come onboard with their support and help us reach new territories, markets and audiences - helping us make Pakistani cinema global.” Fashion forward at Pakistan Film Festival – New York Pant sari with dazzling diamante, tassles and floor sweeping metallics or sometimes sunny delight with ocean blue printed flowers on white-on-white, the plethora of couture, redefining the purveyor of subtleness, ‘in-between’ going creative and experimenting with looks has won millennials over a period of time. The bold display of saturated colours is a resounding yes this season. Be it giving the shades of resort collection or sequin-drenched silhouettes, the overpowering smoked look or employing minimalism with poise, everything has now been liberated from confined and ordained appropriate for day or the festive look. If you have what it takes to carry the silhouette, there’s not really any particular precept to follow. The second edition of Pakistan Film Festival kicked off in New York City recently and it was a star-studded affair with many known faces from Pakistan Entertainment Industry. We list down the top celebrity looks, sported by the bigwigs at the festival, down the Manhattan Street, representing myriad fashion aesthetics.  Mahira Khan: Mahira Khan pulled off a psychedelic taffeta pant sari in saturated colours, blending together the finest cuts and craftsmanship of Sana Safinaz and the extravagant touch of animalier. The way zebra printed pallu meshed with exotic printed flowers, formed a perfectly aesthetic clash print; aligned with the recent Muzlin collection of Safinaz. Mahira’s choice particularly stroke luxe as she paired it with blue stilettos to take over the streets of New York City. Ayesha Omar: Sporting Shehla Chatoor’s perfectly structured sari pants, Ayesha Omar went sleek with hair and minimalism taking over the prominence. The ocean blue digitally printed flowers, tassels running down on a high silk sari paired with lace blouse and intricate neckline details is a winner. An extravagant touch of sapphire earrings teamed with silver heels created an irresistible look for Omar.  Shehla’s delicate colours, blended together to add a hint of personality, was a breath of fresh air on a hot day in New York as the white printed silhouette trailed down.  Sonya Hussayn:  Pant Sari dominated the finale of Pakistan Film Festival. Sonya Hussayn went for all gold wash nude off shoulder sari pants with crystal accents and heart neckline translating to a timeless look with a bold vibe, paired with golden stilettos. The long micro-beads blouse did well for the actress as the organza net, structured by Sania Maskatiya trailed down effortlessly creating a timeless look with age old glamour of silks and interlacing vines.

A FIRST: The film features Asif Raza Mir, left, and Marina Khan for the very first time on celluloid.
Parwaaz Hai Junoon trailer sets pace for soaring flight

The trailer of Momina and Durraid’s big tribute to Pakistan Air Force finds Hamza Ali Abbasi in the lead, doing what he likes best, pitching for country and flag. There’s a powerful patriotic feel to the trailer as though the film is a directorial debut of Haseeb Hasan, who lets all systems go into creating a dash of action sequences in the air with fighter pilots taking the centre-stage. “When a country calls out to you, you can’t hear anything else,” says Hania Amir, the young starlet who made her acting debut with Pakistani film Janaan (2016) and later shot into prominence for playing Parri in Na Maloom Afraad 2 (2017), to a panel of selection committee on submitting US citizenship as she sets her foot in the final interview call for joining Pakistan Air Force.  But wait. If you think this is a routine schmaltz and struggle about an air force officer who wants to serve the country, then there is more here to feast on. Parwaaz Hai Junoon looks nothing like any previously released tribute film to Pakistani forces.   The team, if you must know, looks dependable and appealing. Never before have so many young actors been cast for a Pakistani film. Over the past few years, experienced hands have been called upon to play the central roles whilst the new ones only used as supporting cast, but for PHJ, the opposite is true.  Hamza Ali Abbasi, Hania Aamir and Ahad Raza Mir play the leads while Shaz Khan and Kubra Khan play supporting roles along with Syed Shafaat Ali, Arsalan Asad Butt and Sabeena Syed to name a few.  This film features the veteran Asif Raza Mir and Marina Khan, the country’s favourite TV heartthrob of the 80s, for the very first time on celluloid. And considering the attention Asif Raza Mir’s son, Ahad, has been getting recently, drawing comparisons with his father, it’s a pleasant surprise for the father-son duo to be sharing screen space.   “Women are afraid of lizards and cockroaches; they can never fly a fighter jet,” Ahad Raza Mir says to Hania Amir as she falls during the training sessions at Pakistan Airforce Academy. It takes time to gather strength for everyone in some form. Doesn’t it? Not this time!  Parwaaz Hai Junoon has winner, strength and bravery written on every frame. The trailer screams for attention as patriotic sounds merge into visuals of the furling-unfurling flags and green uniforms.  Be it the aerial shots or locations where the film has been shot, everything seems picture perfect. The aerial shots where fighter pilots are shown in war action may give their compatriots the goosebumps with pop nationalism in full swing. Farhat Ishtiaq, the writer of the film, seems to have had added some comic sequences to the film as well, just to lighten up the screen. The trailer also features a song Nachay Re, a wedding sequence that gives definite nostalgic space to Bin Roye’s Balle Balle that we have seen before. All the colours and vibrant silhouettes give every frame a very high-end appeal to happiness and celebration.  It’s not really possible that a HUM film passes off without featuring romance and drama. Drawing parallel with the action sequences, the film also carries some romance and drama, shot along the lines of beautiful locations in Pakistan. But we really hope it’s not a typical triangle love story as the trailer suggests.   PHJ has a warm rugged feel to every frame winning against all odds featuring conflict, resolution, love, drama, hope and life.  The film is scheduled to release on Eid ul Azha.

Showstopper Hareem Farooq channels the perfectly structured denim skirt by Rizwan Beyg (left):  Cine queen Mahira Khan steps up for Umer Sayeedu2019s Good as Gold in the glimmer gold statement piece.
Around two power centres in three days flat!

An eclectic mix from both Karachi and Lahore in a three-day event can only be a feast. Lahore has so far played the smartest fashion week game with a consistency that remains unparalleled. This has resulted in fashion weeks springing up in Lahore with the most organised, predictable and contained structure whilst Karachi is still finding its way to shoot up through the stratosphere.  Long or short hemlines? The pliable poise structured or streamlined chic? The power shoulder suiting or the gossamered evening wear? Block colour or Digital Prints? These are the questions that torment Pakistan Fashion Industry every season, but HUM Showcase 2018 gave us an answer that everything goes this season.  Fashion is no longer an industry catering to the tyranny of haute monde, it has been democratised and head banging rock n’ rollers are as much a part of the mix as the genteel. There’s a lot more happening. It’s all moving so fast now, that there’s no room to shape up or ship out, so don’t pick a personality just now, you can easily play Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.  Community lists the top 7 collections that made an impact on the runway this season. Zaheer Abbas  An ode to the Victorian odyssey that literally took us down the lane with frill, multi-tiered ruffled skirts, bows and fitted jackets. Edgy blocks of colour cut perfectly into coat dresses, a palette of all that is all white for Zaheer, there’s a timelessness to these pieces, especially the long coats with intricate embroidery, paired with exquisite romanticism of pastel shirts in salmon pink that are created for one simple reason to make women look like a million dollars. His collection was very wicked for the red carpet — certainly, many celebrities would be seen sporting down except few short skirts, practically unwearable off the ramp. But, as they say, the woman should wear the dress, the dress shouldn’t wear the woman. Zaheer’s play with feminine appeal to cuts and collection was the sexy opening to a fashion week one always looks forward to.  Mahgul  Mahgul’s debut in Karachi is one of the most impressive yet, she re-imagined the silhouettes as separates for the 21st century. To this young designer, saris, oversised tied down shirts and prints can work together well. However, that doesn’t stop her from being irreverent enough to send down a green printed sari with knotted top — and she made it work! How can one miss Mahira Khan wearing and sporting the same piece later at an event? Her collection was young and fresh and didn’t look laboured at all even though a lot of work had gone into it. It won’t be erroneous to say that Mahgul is quick witted enough with resources to come into the fashion market the big way. She knows how to play it and take it and that’s exactly what she did in Karachi this time!   Rizwan Beyg A seasoned hand between style, fashion, branding and crafting platforms, Rizwan Beyg hit the nail on the head. These disciplines are about having fun with it and Day Two belonged to this designer and pioneer of Pakistan Fashion, who put a truly stunning collection with cohesive thought process, a distinctive sensibility and a fashion forwardness of his take on denim and giving it a complete revamp. His cuts and quality fabric of couture line was all about luxe! Be it a denim sari, shirts, flared pants, skirt or a waistcoat — not a stitching out place — not a whisper but a shout to Baby that’s how it’s done! Rizwan’s ensemble was something you cannot miss, having fun with fashion and fabric while keeping his collection cohesive.  Munib Nawaz  There are very few menswear designers in Pakistan fashion industry who truly know their craft and Munib is indeed one of them; promised and made us believe in his craft every season and showcase, one after another. Suits and short jackets by Munib have now become synonymous with clean cuts, well structured, fitted and not a stitch out of place for us and that’s only because he pays a huge amount of time in bringing about the details in every garment he produces that should sell well enough. There is no sleep for the wicked and that’s what Munib’s clothes in uniform like neutrals seems to keep in mind.   Kuki Concepts  Shirts, coats, printed jackets with butterflies and flowers whilst going basic in structures and cuts — a daring collection for men to wear casually with the grunge outlook mixed with luxe. Zahid Khan of Kuki Concepts has made a visible move in the brand’s approach from dolling up only Bridal wears to the chic and brash casual men lending the professional and distinctive look with the little sparkle in the right places. Although his decision to showcase was nearly last minute but he constructed the collection well. Black and Charcoal Grey with Pink T-Shirts taking over the showcase on Day-2.   HSY  HSY definitely leads when it comes to formal wear, but this collection was out of his comfort style. No embellishments, no complicated silhouettes and no tiredness in the structures — Musafir was a sleek, chic high street collection HSY seems to go retail with, stored and available at all his stores and online as well. Shero’s philosophy of that translates to ‘Keep it Simple for Modern Woman’ was evident in this line of feminising decidedly, masculine apparel like the muscle tee, wooden beaded neck pieces, light weight cotton wraps and belted kurtas — creating sporty looks that are quintessential feminine. A fleeting dash of ethereal punctuated otherwise jaunty solid set: creating an otherworldly vision unlike other collections that went on the ramp.  Umer Sayeed  Believe me they were! Umer Sayeed stayed true to his authentic, traditional craft with a mesh of contemporary and modern silhouettes in Bridals and Formal wear. His opening was all about Bridals with structure that don’t have the same run of the mill predictability of heavy gallas and worked dupattas — his intricate embroideries and punch foils. We loved the blazer! Wispy chic, utterly exotic and done with all his heart and soul is the only way to describe his collection. His glimmer gold statement sari, crop tops and maxis are now officially famous with that painstaking intricate detailing in sequins, jewels tones and timeless wedding wears. Mahira Khan’s presence for him as the showstopper was a like a cherry on top and his intricate detailed pieces an icing on a multi-layered cake!

PLACE-TO-BE: Qatar International Food Festival promises to deliver big time this year, too. Photo by Shemeer Rasheed
Food for thought at QIFF

The sheer numbers at the 9th edition is one thing, but what takes the cake  is the eclectic mix of expertise and diversity. By Muhammad Asad Ullah The layer of smoke wafting from Sheraton Grand Doha’s park wasn’t dry this time; the all-pervasive aroma of food taking over the capital’s skyline — as if intent on making a statement — was palpable.  The eagerly awaited 9th Qatar International Food Festival, organised and delivered by Qatar Tourism Authority, began on Thursday for what promises to an exhilarating ride at the Hotel Park. Where the number of participants has increased considerably — by 37%, with a whopping 177 stalls — the event has now become the largest food festival of Qatar, with thousands of attendees, food enthusiasts and participants making a beeline. It’s that time of the year again where one needs to snub the weight gain game, stop griping and perhaps, even acquit the whining foodie.  The festival opened with its signature QIFF Cooking Theatre — ushering in one of Hollywood’s favourite celebrity chefs and culinary arts maestro, Wolfgang Puck, along with celebrated Middle Eastern chef, Qatar’s very own Aisha al-Tamimi, extending their experience for learners to prepare, cook, handle and — most crucial of all — present food. It reinforced the corollary about how visual appeal is just as essential as the tasting experience.  Chef Wolfgang shared his exquisite recipe of Italian classic Seafood Risotto and Chinois Lamb Chops — the highlight remained his shared secrets; the presence of prawns, paired with al dente rice and parmesan — which appeared to be on-point with its taste to indulge one’s Italian food cravings. Not for nothing has he been the in-charge of the feast at the Governor’s Ball — the Academy Awards after-party — for so long.  The sheer diversity of cuisine on offer should bring in hordes to savour the flavours of the East and West in the days to come. This year, QIFF however, is not only saving its best for food lovers but also giving generous leeway to locally owned coffee shops; the aroma and rich flavour of the beans will, in all likelihood, keep the visitors hooked. The ‘first day, first show’ provided ample evidence.  Kuwaiti-singer-turned chef Sulaiman al-Qassar was at hand to deliver his customised recipe for traditional Rice and Chicken, the Chicken Kabsa and Potato Kebbah. It seemed luscious with rice, but if one is not really a rice person, a fresh pita bread can work out extremely well, giving a well-balanced flavour with dried lime. American chef and TV host Christine Ha, the first visually impaired contestant of MasterChef and winner of its third season (2012), played safe with her Mexican Beef Steak Fajita and Grilled Corn, but it was spicy enough to hit the taste goalpost.  There’s some good news for people, who want to have some time to themselves, with no kids around! There’s a set-up for mini zoo where, many people did leave their young ones following the opening ceremony. Then, there’s another escapade that has nothing to do with food: art therapy. One got to see some extraordinary presentations. The pistacolate chocolate presentation and puffytaffyqatar’s cute candy floss floating in the park in Pikachu and Angry Birds formation made one think twice: to eat it or keep it!  And if you’re not into art, you can always just chill out, listening to some live music by Doha bigwigs based hip hop dance troupe, beats, Doha String Quartet & Friends, Doha Jazz and an American music band, playing throughout the festival. Foodies will be able to treat themselves to more than ten different cuisines — all under one roof. It sounds as promising as the festival in contributing to the development and promotion of Qatar’s food and tourism industry.

CANDID: u201cI feel like contributing and working for cancer patients in Pakistan. Maybe, I can relate to what the family goes through, itu2019s something very close to my heart,u201d says Sajal Aly.
“I look forward to a project where I can challenge my abilities”

From a relatively moderate celebrity profile as a Pakistani drama artiste to making a star turn opposite the legendary Sridevi in Bollywood, Sajal Aly has traversed some distance.  Before Sajal found her calling, she was a teenaged wannabe actress from Lahore, Pakistan, who, moved to the port city of Karachi to support her family financially. She worked as a brand promotion girl before landing an audition — and shooting into prominence — for Mehmoodabad Ki Malkain (a family drama on the private TV channel ARY Digital in 2011). Sajal was one of hundreds of young faces, who arrive every year in Karachi carrying sanguine, but mostly farfetched, dream of making it big. It won’t be erroneous to say that you can find all that hoopla of collected ambition in her uncanny expression that mottles the screen only once the camera rolls.   For Sajal, it is another leap in a career in which she has forged ahead from a newcomer to winning two nominations at the prestigious Lux Style Awards 2018 in a single category of Best Actress; acclaimed for her dramatic talent — from the assertive Sassi of O Rangreza to the vulnerable and relatable Dr Zubia of Yaqeen Ka Safar — drama serials on Pakistan’s premier entertainment channel HUM TV — both in 2017.  After enduring the heartache of her mother’s demise last year, Sajal expresses her utmost grief, disbelief and shock over the death of Sridevi, who essayed her reel life mother in the Bollywood dark thriller Mom.  The legendary Indian showed her love and concern for Sajal in a video, during promotions for Mom when the Pakistani actors couldn’t rub shoulders with her at the promo events, thanks to a ban. She even broke down in tears and regretted Sajal’s absence verbally. She referred to Sajal as ‘mera bacha’ (my kid), in a video to show how much love and affection she had for the Pakistani artiste. The 24-year-old’s eyes caterwauls as she moves from one project to another; making it straight from her shoot for Aangan (an upcoming drama serial based on pre-Partition) in a clean casual uptight head bun and a French pink jumper she carries effortlessly whilst Community sits down with her to run the gamut of a rich journey — now almost a decade old — before she heads over to her makeup artist, dolled up to walk the ramp.  Yaqeen Ka Safar and Rangreza are two serials that did way too well on the screen, earning you two nominations for the Best Actress at Lux Style Awards 2018. Yet, you share space with relative newcomers whilst you yourself are an established actress. How do you explain that? Well, a throwback to my career and you’ll see I’ve always been part of plays where I was cast opposite relative newcomers, but I’ve never had a problem. And you know all those projects, did way too well on television screen bringing immense TRPS.  And yes, the two nominations are for both the projects that are very close to my heart: Yaqeen Ka Safar and Rangreza. They are completely different yet represent two very strong characters. I am honoured that I got to play these roles and represent independent strong women and their tireless journeys.  What kind of bond did you develop with Sridevi? Were you still in touch with her post-release Mom? Yes, I was. We shared a very mother-daughter kind of relationship. In the first two spells of the shoot, my mother was there with me and they developed a very good bond, so we spent a lot of time together — like a family. In the last spell of the film since I was alone at the shoot and my mother was in the hospital, that was when I got attached to her (Sridevi). For me, she’s no doubt a legend but even in my first scene, I never felt like I was sitting in front of Sridevi; I felt I was sitting in front of a mother. She made me feel that way. It’s a very big thing. Lots of newcomers come and shoot with you and sometimes they even get intimidated or nervous, but during the entire shoot of the film, I never felt uncomfortable sharing the screen with her.  She broke down whilst talking about her bond with you at the promos. What do you feel about that? It came as a surprise to me and I was extremely emotional at that time because my mother had just passed away a few days ago and when Mom came out, it was all about the bond between mother and her daughter. So yes.   How much of a setback has the ban on Pakistani artistes in Bollywood been? Do you agree with the narrative that artistes are a soft target in all of this? Yes, they are! Since artistes are prominent both in Pakistan and India they’re a soft target, which is wrong. I am glad that I got a chance to work in Bollywood and might as well go again, but I am also concerned about contributing to a positive growth in Pakistani cinema. I believe the hard work that we put in the projects abroad can just be put in at home, where we are given the respect we deserve. Therefore, the ban shouldn’t be taken as a setback anyway.   What is the first thing you prioritise before signing up a project? A substantial script and role is all that I look into. I just don’t want to be there for the sake of it — you know just the beauty element. I’m an actor at the end of the day, so I look forward to a project where I can challenge my own abilities.  How do you find inner peace? Is there something that you do to get away from all the action in your life? Are there beauty secrets lurking somewhere that other aspirants could make use of? There’s no beauty secret. I’m a very simple person in nature; it’s just that I take my work very seriously. After my mother (passed away), I did a lot of projects to keep myself as busy as I could, but you know once you face certain realities of life, ultimately your life gets easier — you’re over all your fears. I’m happy in action, workwise. That’s the real peace for me — keeping up with everyone and being the candid me!  What has changed after Mom as an actress? What do you think needs to improve in Pakistani cinema? Nothing has changed. I’m still doing projects and people do appreciate them. Our work is a constant struggle. I believe it’s better to keep doing the work and get even better with every project. It’s still a learning curve for me. When it comes to Pakistani films, there’s still a lot to learn and do better.  What issues are the closest to your heart? Is there something that you have found more fulfilling doing than what has made you famous? I feel like contributing and working for cancer patients in Pakistan. Maybe, I can relate to what the family goes through, it’s something very close to my heart. When my mother left us, it brought unbearable pain for the family. So, I don’t really want anybody else to be in the same boat.

CUTTING A DASH: Models present creations by Pakistani designers on the final day of the Made In Pakistan Fashion Week in Karachi. AFP
Made in Pakistan Fashion Week pushes boundaries

Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) has been burning the midnight oil to significantly increase the share of Pakistani textiles in the global market.  Although the industry in Pakistan generally operates on a small and medium scale, it’s the prowess of the fashion industry as a whole — thanks to their presence at International Fashion Weeks, including Paris, London and New York, to showcase the quality fashion and apparel the country is capable of — that is contributing significantly to the overall growth.   Fashion weeks are a strenuous business for anyone involved enough to be working full time. As a platform to introduce new designers and showcase the quality textile and apparel, the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan collaborated with Fashion Pakistan Karachi to host Made in Pakistan Fashion Week, featuring authentic Pakistani textiles recently.  It was a showcase of many highs and lows. Community lists down the top 7 designer collections that went on the ramp representing the myriad fashion aesthetics.  Deepak Perwani All that tangerine, red and yellow dominated the runway featuring short kurtis, jackets, maxis and quintessential palazzo pants — a touch too tribal. And since he believes in creating entire looks, Deepak complimented the clothes with his characteristic earrings. Although he made models sport few pieces from his previous collections but that’s the D Philosophy — a feminine exquisitely finished, retail friendly collection.  Hassan Riaz He was bold and fearless on ramp — way too reckless than he usually is. Spiralled cocoons and slacks for men and knitted woolen dresses, the cutting-edge designs all in a power combination of red and black built way too well to turn the heads. Hassan is very clear about what he’s doing and it’s all about putting yourself out there and the results are always a strange mix. The Pink Tree Company Mohsin Sayeed gave a wild touch to the sophisticated Pink Tree Company this time, making it difficult to slot the collection into any one popular style. A dash of the unexpected was added to every conventional style; pleated skirts, mix of prints on the base of very fresh colours — the plum, the tangerine — a revolution of what’s allowed on the street.   Amna Aqeel Amna defined the Made in Pakistan show, weaving the ethnic traditional embroideries and embellishments with modern cuts featuring vibrant mirror work on blouse, capes and cigarette pants. Her white on white collection woven in white cotton denim was chic with international appeal, an interplay of vivid colour and designs. Adnan Pardesy Adnan gave fashion what they have come to love about the designer. His collection featured sexy pieces with funky casuals built in denim and all the hues of black. Tops paired with floral tights and skirts and you’re off for a day or night. This proves that Adnan does clothes for everyone to make a statement everywhere. His draping and silhouettes were a win!  Gulabo Gulabo presented a predictable line of sumptuous prints that is Maheen’s signature. It was a soldered collection channelling the prints, cuts and styles — an electrifying trailer into the variety that is available at their stores. The jump suits, pants, crop tops and jackets obtruding in the hues of green and red — her colourful set dresses spoke loudly about the ability of Gulabo and Maheen Khan to bring the best at the ramp effortlessly. From models sporting the fierce look to the bursts of flowers and prints, a collection very well defined! Maheen’s a maestro!  Zainab Khalid This young girl from Pakistan Institute of Fashion and Design is going to go places; she showcased a standout collection with interesting structures featuring pants, jackets and overcoats in the hues of white, yellow and blue — full of fun! She won big time with her superb showing at the finale of Made in Pakistan – a day of millennial fashion.

POWER SHOW: Another episode of acknowledging the fashion and entertainment industry ended on a high note with celebrities appearing on the stage together for a performance.
The rise and rise of glamour of substance

Muhammad Asad Ullah was at hand to see the grand celebration of the Pakistani fashion industry at the Hum Style Awards 2017 An awards show is always the best place to view a wide range of entertainment, and the HUM Style Awards 2017 hosted by the trio of Saba Qamar, Farhan Saeed and Ali Kazmi in cosmopolitan Karachi was no exception. The Awards are here to stay thanks to the dominance of the corporate giants and Pakistan entertainment industry carving a scintillating style and fashion niche. The best of Karachi and Lahore, Pakistan’s fashion power centres, were pitched at the same platform, and the atmosphere was electric. Where the perceptive Khadija Rehman of Generation (Best Retail) takes the brand to a level of sophistication personified and top-notch quality that makes her designs worth it, it is the indomitable craftsmanship of Zaheer Abbass (Designer of the Year Demi Couture) that enables him to impose himself in the interminable list of designers existing nationwide. Fashion trends and power packed performances swarm international award shows, including Bollywood, but the Pakistan fare now has its own signature allure. One witnessed drama, spot on choreography and sizzling performances — choreographed by Ilona Bekier. The script did falter at times featuring tasteless jokes; but in hindsight, it was much calmer and level headed compared to the fare previously. It’s always the opening and closing acts that drive the endurance for an entire show ending post-midnight and Saba Qamar opened the night with a performance putting forward her brutally honest account of how to be a star in Pakistan. This she did by putting on different masks with a recap of the past year following an Urdu version of Nancy Sinatra’s classic Bang Bang. It’s commendable for Saba, who recently stole the show in her Bollywood debut Hindi Medium, to have such a handle on what she wants to do — she always creates a parallel world on-screen and an award show is always made brighter by it. Syra Yusuf and Asim Azhar shaking a leg together on Punjabi beat, and then, Ahsan Khan’s conquest of the dance floor was a lot of fun; he always knows what he’s doing and does it well. With item songs trending in the Pakistan film industry lately, Sadaf Kanwal has already made headlines with Kaif o Saroor in Na Maloom Afraad 2 and earning Most Stylish Female Model Award was a cinch. This girl can pull off anything effortlessly; she paired a plain sexy off shoulder saree with a sleek bun for the red carpet and raised the bar of red carpet looks. Where Sadaf was game for the prize, we may just have to hand the award for Most Stylish Model Male to Hasnain Lehri for all the campaigns and appearances he has been giving lately. Having said that, Salman Riaz winning the award in the male category did raise eyebrows. Meanwhile the Pakistani lawn industry is booming more than ever and every other designer coming up with a special luxe lawn collection is evidence, but Sana Safinaz has taken the lead. No-one puts an effort like the duo does in their quality, fabrics or their campaigns. Although they gave up on lawn exhibitions a while ago after traffic jams and never before witnessed stampedes at venues around Pakistan, but still long queues at their flagship stores nationwide reveals the power of the brand.   There’s a sharp crescent of change in men’s wear with florid bursts of colour without compromising on one thing that menswear is truly about: cuts. Where Republic by Omer Farooq (last year’s winner) has established itself as the go-to designer for everyday and formal wear, it’s Ismail Farid that has quite a good hand for suits, doing tremendously well for the quirky elements and seeing him walk away with the trophy wasn’t surprising at all. Best Emerging Talent is the most fun category, looking out for the younger crowd and encouraging them to set a milestone, spicing up the fashion industry. This was bagged by Saheefa Jabbar, breakout star of the year – the boy cut model, who, set the ramp and billboards on fire with her sexy appeal and looks. Her bridals have been weaving their usual magic spell, not because they’re sharp but her excellent fabric. Her painstakingly intricate detailing in crystals, pearls and sequins, her lehengas have been a good bet to win. And yes, Shehla Chatoor. Bagging the award for Designer of the Year – Bridal is no surprise. The Outstanding Achievement Brand Development Award was presented to Shamoon Sultan for Khaadi. The most stylish film actor male and female awards were bagged by Osman Khalid Butt and Sanam Saeed, respectively. Ayesha Omer grabbed the statuette for the Most Stylish Actor Female – Television; Feroze Khan for the Male category; and pop star Atif Aslam the coveted Style Icon 2017. Another episode of acknowledging the fashion and entertainment industry ended on a high note with celebrities in attendance appearing on the stage together for a performance. But Mahira Khan was much missed.

HIT: Saba Qamar, right, plays Qandeel Baloch, dubbed Pakistanu2019s u2018Kim Kardashianu2019 in Baaghi.
New high for Pakistani drama

Pakistan’s once-withering drama industry has long crossed the verge of renaissance, winning international acclaim for its quality of content. Exploring genres ranging from romance and comedy to drama and tragedy, offering penetrating plotlines to create an impactful experience not only for its viewers but also for awareness with an unremitting projection of socio-cultural norms, the Pakistani drama industry is making a stellar statement.  From Humsafar to Daastan, Dure Shehwar, Aun Zara, Kankar, Dile Muztir and Zindagi Gulzar Hai, Pakistani drama is not only celebrated at home but has won fans in India, too. With that said, Community lists down top four dramas being aired on Pakistani television channels available in different bundles across the Middle East, Gulf and the West.  Yaqeen Ka Safar  Considering the intense small screen prowess of Sajal Aly, this subtle story of justice has managed to keep its viewers hooked since it buckled down and went on air. The attention-of the script encircles the judicial system in Pakistan, politics and remorse of a barrister falling prey to the dominance of a legislator. It is often inopportune to stand against the authorities, raising a voice of justice and, to that end, Yaqeen Ka Safar is a beautiful presentation of one for how one confrontation of good and evil affects the entire family as a whole. Ahad Raza Mir, the new boy in town who’s making waves with his acting and character of Dr Asfand Yar sharing the innocence of romance with Sajal Aly on the screen says, “The doctor’s story and transformation is what drove me to the script. A happy go lucky guy who has not experienced real pain in his life and all of a sudden something really bad happens and his character completely changes. Who he is completely changes. There’s a wonderful theme in the story revolving around the idea of justice. It’s not just justice concerning judiciary or politics or the law. It’s justice amongst families and relationships. Justice between two brothers, justice between father and son, and justice between somebody like a doctor and what their responsibility is, what their profession demands them to do and their personal conflicts. Whilst the story budges towards its climax, it’s the perfect production, keeping the story real that’s driving the viewers to like the characters and relate to them. Baaghi  A story of a small town girl who had big dreams, Baaghi is a drama on the life Pakistan’s Kim Kardashian, Qandeel Baloch played by Saba Qamar. Saba, who recently stole the show in a Bollywood film Hindi Medium, manages to impersonate Baloch’s body language way too perfectly. It won’t be erroneous to say this biopic is a masterpiece, unveiling the endeavours of Qandeel Baloch to detail from escaping her abusive husband to a journey of an extraordinary life as a social media star. Baaghi is fit to rank as a must watch. Gumrah    From the get-go, this drama was expected to top the rating charts and so it came to pass. It touches the delicate marriage triangle and the exploitation of an opportunist girl, who feels no remorse and guilt in getting what she has always wanted. With the twists and turns, Gumrah is a story of fragmenting trust and belief in the close ones and attraction of an aged man towards his daughter’s best friend, a story heard before in real life but rarely depicted on television. In a never seen before avatar, Hina Altaf plays the opportunist girl who ends up marrying the father of her best friend (played by Komal Aziz), played by veteran Faisal Rehman, forming a humiliating triangle with Sabreen Hisbani.  Ilteja With the viewers more interested in watching drama that address social issues, Ilteja is indeed one, striking a deep social cord of raising children with special needs. Revolving around the family challenges faced in upbringing children suffering from Down Syndrome, this drama is an episode for how people in this industry have realised their social responsibility in devising a change in the society. Ilteja is moving towards a climax and stars Affan Waheed, Tooba Siddiqui, Rubina Ashraf and Seemi Pasha in the lead roles.

Doctors during one of the health sessions in the festival.
Festival pays homage to the powerful women of Pakistan

The city has surely come back to life and it’s a thriller because there is no place quite like Karachi. After years of nothing happening and cynosure of fashion recently, there is a definite revival of sorts. If on one hand the fashion council is grooming a whole new generation into the finer purist points of fashion, there are people like Shenaz Ramzi who have taken some serious business into account.  A festival honouring women and paying homage to their altruistic and outstanding achievements making significant contributions was held recently in the cosmopolitan Karachi as part of a three-day event.  Divided in two sets of panel discussions each day, the first day of the Pakistan Women Festival 2017 was hinged on a total of 13 women. The first session featured those who broke the glass ceiling with their dedication, while the second session was about women’s health, and focused on liberation and freedom. In the race for justice, where women have leapt countless obstacles, the government of Pakistan is also dedicating its efforts towards women empowerment – the Protection of Women against Harassment at the Workplace Act being one of the finest examples. Apart from a stellar array of women who were part of the panel discussions, what kept Breaking the Glass Ceiling session way more interesting was the diversity of the backgrounds from which these six women were invited from to elaborate on their struggles as women in this part of the world. Where it was an affair to invigorate discussion on important issues and ideas that matter to the women of today, Sultana Siddiqui of Hum Network, filmmaker Fizza Ali Meerza, Justice Majida Rizvi, Grade 22 Officer Rabia Javeri-Agha, journalist Uzma Alkarim and actress Mahtab Akbar Rashidi were part of the first session. The session served to spread awareness about programmes for the protection of women nationwide – focusing especially on when their male colleagues resort to character assassination, after being unable to compete with them and unwilling to accept their positions of authority.  It won’t be erroneous to term exceptional the feats of these panellists in overcoming the obstacles their professions threw at them.  The presence of young and quick-witted Fizza Ali Meerza, from the Pakistani flick Na Maloom Afraad, shows that the struggles of the women of our last generation have not gone lost and are now in play to create a society that is more tolerant and encouraging for women then the one they grew up in.  Justice Majida Rizvi being the first woman judge in Pakistan, still feels the honour and need to promoting gender equality at workplace. When asked about her journey, she said, “It was really difficult to persuade my family for letting me out to practice law. I worked hard to establish the rights of women in Pakistan. It was Benazir Bhutto’s vision of taking women forward and my hard work that led me to the place where I stand today.” However Rizvi explained while these issues are slowly getting resolved, the battle for women empowerment goes on. “There are so many senior women lawyers in Pakistan but because of the gender discrimination they are neglected most of the time.”  With a stress on tenacity, focus, patience and the uncanny ambitions to achieve the heights of success and goals for any girl, the first day of Pakistan Women Festival ended on the high notes of Sajjad Ali and Asim Azhar at the opening concert.  The objective of Pakistan Women Festival 2017 remains to honour women, recognise their contributions to society and discuss their issues, whether empowerment-related or health. Many women shared their initial sufferings that led to them making history: Yasmeen Lari, Pakistan’s first woman architect, explained how the local building contractors shunned her for wanting to practice her career post-graduation from Oxford University in her inciting speech on ‘Creating sustainable economic independence for women in Pakistan’. This was followed by a panel discussion on the same topic.  The festival was not just limited to panel discussions on women empowerment as the name suggested – Day 2 ended with a powerful performance by Mai Dhai, Natasha Baig and Ali Zafar.   The last day of the Pakistan Women Festival 2017 hosted a series of panels and session discussing the importance of education, academic reforms, parents’ attitude towards their children excelling in studies and health. To kick start Day 3, a motivational speaker session was held featuring politician Khushbakht Shujaat. Some very powerful words were heard, from even more powerful woman who have been supporting education and women rights with an urge that laws and rights of women should be added in the curriculum of schools. “What about talent, tastes, hobbies? Such things seem to have left our education system, please don’t pack up education in a square box. Let it spread like the fragrance of flowers,” said Khushbakht.  The senator’s inspirational talk was followed by a panel discussion titled ‘Women tackling challenges in education’. Ameena Saiyid, Managing Director of Oxford University Press, reminded the audience that there are some 60 million children of school-going age in Pakistan of which only 40 million attended school along. The other two panellists were FPCCI’s Standing Committee on Cyber Crimes Chairwoman Mahin Sahibzadi and Nargis Alvi. The literacy rate of women in Pakistan being the topic of discussion, the panel ended the session with the helplessness of children opting to the career paths that their parents pressurise them into, without paying any regards for their preferences. They discussed how private and government schools differed in rules and principals, and what could be a more effective way and efficient tools to make the environment of learning more conducive for the students. Punjabi pop/bhangra band Stereo Nation, flanked by Zoe Viccaji and Amanat Ali got the audience up on their feet for the closing of the festival.  ‘Women Empowerment’ is a word taking the world with a storm. With Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy’s winning Oscars to Malala Yusufzai bagging the Nobel Prize, women are definitely becoming empowered and thanks to PWF, it seems that they definitely have a lot more to achieve in the coming years.