By Maliha Rehman
The 20th Lux Style Awards (LSA) nominations confirmed something that many had known already: last year was the year when TV reigned.
The fashion nominations fumbled through the usual suspects and with cinemas closed due to the coronavirus, the film category was eliminated altogether. Music brought on a slew of contenders but it was the TV entourage that came squashed with impressive names and multiple contenders listed shoulder to shoulder. Hit dramas were singled out and a powerful list of actors, actresses and directors were recognized.
TV dramas have always been huge in Pakistan but in some cases, the story-telling truly had upped the ante in Covid times. Taking advantage of an audience held hostage under lockdown, TV had occasionally dabbled with plots that toed unconventional territory, held together by some very fine performances.
The TV nominations may be packing in the punches but who is going to win? The debate can go on and on. The best male and female lead categories have been subdivided into ‘Critics’ Choice’ and ‘Viewers’ Choice’ which means that the some of the winners could turn out to be completely unprecedented, running the gamut from acting powerhouses to audience favorites.
What would certainly have made the nominations much more interesting – and more balanced – would have been recognition of the ensemble casts. TV drama storytelling has evolved to a point that the spotlight focuses well beyond the male and female leads. Some villains can truly be bone-chilling and once-conventional paternal and maternal roles can sometimes evolve into becoming a drama’s strongest characters.
Looking at the past year, how can one forget the villainous step-father played by Omair Rana in the HUM TV Network’s ‘Pyar ke Sadqay’? Or Kubra Khan, spinning dreams as she whirled as the doomed ‘Husn-e-Jahan’ in Alif? Zara Noor Abbas, gregarious and lovable in Ehd-e-Wafa, Adnan Siddiqui, split between being the doting father and the cold-blooded murderer in Yeh Dil Mera and Saleem Mairaj as the besotted make-up man in ‘Alif’?
Missing in the innings, Kubra Khan, Adnan Siddiqui, Omair Rana, Saleem Mairaj and Zara Noor Abbas among others
In a year when drama stood strong, how can these performances that formed the backbone of some of the most popular stories, be ignored?
Coming back to the nominations at hand, here’s who is nominated and who could (should?) win …
Best TV Serial
Alif – Sana Shahnawaz, Samina Humayun Saeed and Amjad Rasheed
Deewangi – 7th Sky Entertainment
Ehd-e-Wafa – Momina Duraid and ISPR
Pyar Ke Sadqay – Momina Duraid and Moomal Shunaid
Raaz-e-Ulfat – 7th Sky Entertainment
Sabaat – Momina Duraid
Yeh Dil Mera – Momina Duraid
The Best TV Serial may boast a whopping lineup of seven dramas but it is possible that two major contenders will be giving each other competition for the trophy: Alif and Ehd-e-Wafa. The former was a story steeped in spirituality and tragically romantic. The latter was an all-out entertainer, revolving around friendship, patriotism, with some very well-developed characters.
Best TV Director
Farooq Rind for Pyar Ke Sadqay
Haseeb Hasan for Alif
Saife Hasan for Ehd-e-Wafa
Siraj ul Haq for Raaz-e-Ulfat
Zeeshan Ahmed for Deewangi
Alif was a drama that required introspection and moved at its own pace, eschewing gimmickry that tends to draw ratings. Director Haseeb Hassan particularly needs to be applauded for his sensitive, nuanced narration of the plot, which delved into countless spiritual explorations and drifted from past to present time after time.
Best TV Writer
Farhat Ishtiaq for Yeh Dil Mera
Maha Malik for Raaz-e-Ulfat
Mustafa Afridi for Ehd-e-Wafa
Umera Ahmed for Alif
Zanjabeel Asim Shah for Pyar Ke Sadqay
Umera Ahmed’s take on the spiritual evolution of the individual in Alif was a story that treaded new territory in TV’s generic waters. The bromance in the earlier episodes of Ehd-e-Wafa was a regaling watch. However, the storyline that truly gripped was Farhat Ishtiaq’s mystery thriller Yeh Dil Mera. With cliffhangers and plenty of suspense, it was an extremely interesting story and the drama itself would have been standout had it not become lackluster due to stilted direction and extreme drags.
Best Female Actor – Critics
Hira Mani for Kashf
Mawra Hocane for Sabaat
Sajal Aly for Alif
Urwa Hocane for Mushk
Yumna Zaidi for Pyar Ke Sadqay
Wide-eyed, tortured, strengthened by the travails that she endures, Sajal Aly epitomized ‘Momina’ in Alif. The actress, one of Pakistan’s finest, is a strong contender to win a trophy whenever she gets nominated. Her main competition here is the talented Yumna Zaidi who won hearts as the befuddled, bumbling ‘Mahjabeen’ in ‘Pyar ke Sadqay’.
Best Male Actor – Critics
Ahad Raza Mir for Ehd-e-Wafa
Ahad Raza Mir for Yeh Dil Mera
Bilal Abbas for Pyar Ke Sadqay
Faysal Quraishi for Muqaddar
Hamza Ali Abbasi for Alif
Standing out in a list of powerhouse contenders is Bilal Abbas as the bossed about, insecure Abdullah in ‘Pyar ke Sadqay’. An award-winning performance, for sure!
Ahad Raza Mir, also, was brilliant as the scheming, planning man bent on revenge in ‘Yeh Dil Mera’. Unfortunately, the drama suffered far too much because of endless drags and repetition. It undermined performances that were, otherwise, exceptional, particularly that of Ahad.
Best Emerging Talent in TV
Adnan Samad Khan for Ehd-e-Wafa
Ameer Gillani for Sabaat
Dur-e-Fishan Saleem for Dilruba
Nazish Jahangir for Kahin Deep Jaley
Pehlaaj Hassan for Alif
The Emerging Talent really does pack in the punches with some of the actors making their marks and progressing on to more roles. Dur-e-Fishan Saleem, for instance, really shone in Dilruba and has, since then, paved her way towards lead roles and some very interesting projects. Giving Dur-e-Fishan a run for her money, though, is Adnan Samad Khan who was one of the highlights in Ehd-e-Wafa. The trophy, I think, may just come his way.
Best Original Soundtrack
Alif Bas, sung by Momina Mustehsan and Shuja Haider, composed by Shuja Haider in Alif
Ehd-e-Wafa k Naam Kiya, sung and composed by Rahat Fateh Ali Khan in Ehd-e-Wafa
O Zaalim, sung by Sahir Ali Bagga and Aima Baig, composed by Sahir Ali Bagga in Fitrat
Pyar Ke Sadqay, sung by Ahmed Jahanzaib, Alia Khan and Mahnoor Khan, composed by Ahmed Jahanzaib in Pyar Ke Sadqay
Tip Tip, sung by Naveed Nashad and Sajal Aly, composed by Naveed Nashad in Yeh Dil Mera
Yehi Tou Raaz-e-Ulfat Hai, sung by Aima Baig and Shani Arshad, composed by Shani Arshad in Raaz-e-Ulfat
Zindagi Paheli Hai, sung by Ali Sethi, composed by Naveed Nashad in Sabaat
It was a year of some memorable OSTs with so many title songs still being hummed, long after the dramas stopped airing. The melodious Pyar ke Sadqay was beautifully sung and Tip Tip from Yeh Dil Mera was haunting.
My favorite, though, is Alif Bas which is certainly one of Shuja Haider’s finest compositions and also one of his most popular – he’s sung it several times, on request in Insta-live sessions!