The Random ‘Year That Was 2022’ Gloss Etc Awards

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By Maliha Rehman

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, wrote Dickens.

And 2022 was the best of years sometimes and the worst sometimes. It was the year when the world finally managed to shake off the shadow of the coronavirus and begin to celebrate again. We could travel, we could go to the cinema, we could attend dazzling awards ceremonies and concerts. We could do this but all the while we were also burdened by a perpetual economic crunch dealt by the pandemic over the past two years.

Covid’s reign of terror may have had ended but its consequences were going to be felt for a long, long time. 2022 was testament to this. Fashion weeks, once a consistent part of the annual calendar, refused to surface, with designers being far too busy with business, making up for the losses incurred during the lockdown. Movies released but very few managed to do well. Audiences only wanted to spend their money sparingly and cinema owners, on the other hand, had hiked up ticket prices. Once again, this was done in order to balance out the losses of the past two years.

Nevertheless, events and shows did take place. The red carpet was rolled out. There were movie premieres. There was excitement. But then, nipping all of this in the bud were the floods that engulfed a large part of the country, drowning out homes and lives, causing damage that will take years to get recovered. How could celebrations take place when so many of our countrymen were struggling to survive, deprived of life’s basic necessities? For Pakistan, 2022 was one of the saddest years in the country’s history.

Adding to the melancholy were the social media scandals that ensued. Anchor and host Aamir Liaquat passed away suddenly, his death preceded by a long spate of social media controversies. Actor Feroze Khan parted ways with his wife Aliza Sultan Khan, who submitted evidence in court that indicated domestic violence. This evidence ended up making its way to the Internet leading to endless conjecture. Another ugly online controversy involved the break-up of singer Aima Baig and actor Shahbaz Shigri, revealing what a vitriolic, dangerous place the Internet can be.

On the upside, though, this was the year when Pakistani talent got recognized repetitively on major international platforms. From Ms. Marvel to the Cannes Film Festival to the lofty heights of Netflix’s The Crown, Pakistani productions and talent was applauded again and again. The world grooved to Pasoori and lined up in cinemas to watch The Legend of Maula Jatt. During the tail-end of the year, we saw a select group of local celebrities rubbing shoulders with Hollywood and Bollywood A-listers at international awards and festivals. It is expected that Pakistani entertainment will continue its upward spiral towards international recognition in the coming years – about time too!

Without further ado, then, these are the Random Year That Was 2022 Gloss Etc Awards, recognizing all that entertained us, made us proud and gave us food for thought all through this year …

Rockstar turned Actor Award – Atif Aslam

Frowning, brooding, a shawl carelessly slung across his shoulders, talking in prosaic riddles and rhymes, Atif Aslam set aside his rockstar avatar and became the rebellious Hilmand. Sang-e-Mah marked the singer’s TV acting debut. He had dabbled with the craft before, acting in Shoaib Mansoor’s Bol more than a decade ago, but his role in Saife Hassan’s Sang-e-Mah, airing on the Hum TV Network, was unarguably much more tricky.

It was a layered character, burdened by a constant thirst for vengeance, modeled after a tragic Shakespearean hero. Moreover, there was the pressure to speak accented Urdu, native to the Pakhtoon region in which the story was based. It was a tough role to take on as a debut – and there were certainly times when he fumbled – but Atif managed to make impact and being the perfectionist that he is, is likely to get better in successive projects.

Needless to say, he is one of the country’s best-loved rockstars, it is always a pleasure to see Atif Aslam, in concerts, in videos and now, in TV dramas.

Our Eternal Hero goes International Award – Humayun Saeed

Humayun Saeed most certainly set a new benchmark by acting in Netflix’s The Crown, one of the world’s most popular award-winning series. With the series charting major events in the life of the late Princess Diana, Humayun was enlisted to enact Dr Hasnat Khan, the British-Pakistani doctor that the princess referred to as ‘Mr Wonderful’. Mustachioed, his hair combined into a sensible side-parting and with some additional weight put on especially for the role, Humayun was unrecognizable as the doctor. His role may have had spanned about an episode of The Crown but it was the one episode that everyone in Pakistan watched avidly. Being the veteran actor he is, he slipped easily into the skin of the doctor, even performing a fake surgery with what appeared to be considerable accuracy!

Also, Humayun’s movie ‘London Nahi Jaunga’, co-produced by him and starring him in the main lead, released this year – after having gotten delayed extensively due to the pandemic – and was a big hit on the box office.

Towards the end of this year, we saw the actor at the Filmfare Middle East Achiever’s Awards night in Dubai where he spoke extremely gracefully and fluently on stage. The Pakistani entourage of actors – which also included Fahad Mustafa and Sajal Aly – were seated in the front row at the event, along with a slew of Bollywood A-listers and when Humayun came on stage, you could hear the crowds cheering.

He is our eternal hero, after all.

Govinda lovin’ / Hero no. 1 Award – Fahad Mustafa

Fahad Mustafa, attending the Filmfare Middle East Achievers’ Night in Dubai, represented Govinda fandom everywhere when he came on stage and spoke with great respect about the Bollywood veteran hero. Evidently, Fahad got into acting because he was inspired by Govinda. Also, he declared, all of Pakistan’s actors were inspired by Govinda!

Really? That may be debatable.

Regardless, it was magnanimous and extremely humble of Fahad, a huge star himself, to shower such accolades, so publicly, on the Indian actor.

In another vein, Fahad also gets the Hero No. 1 Award for his movie Quaid-e-Azam Zindabad, which released this year and was a laugh-a-minute, action-packed entertainer. Swaggering, wise-cracking and fighting the bad guys, it was a treat to see Fahad Mustafa play the bad cop-turned-good.

He also continued to spread happiness and cash prizes through his live game show Jeeto Pakistan, which remains a success despite having now run on TV for more than eight years. He climbed cars, rode a motorbike through the game-show arena and joked with the audience.

Such a hero. A Hero No. 1, in fact – incidentally, that’s the name of a hit Govinda movie!

I Want To Control Netflix Award – Sakina Samo

Veteran actress Sakina Samo took it upon herself to tag Netflix with suggestions when it was revealed that Humayun Saeed was going to be cast in The Crown. She felt that Humayun was absolutely the wrong choice and there were many others who would suit the role better and she Tweeted all this, tagging the official Netflix account.

It was a bit mindboggling and it made you wonder whether there was bad blood between the two celebrities. It has taken a very long time for international media to look beyond the terrorism propaganda and take notice of Pakistani talent. Landing a role in a series of The Crown’s caliber is definitely an achievement and it could possibly open doorways for many more of our actors to make international debuts.

But instead of cheering for our own, why do some of us always have to point fingers and criticize?

Outstanding Musical Achievement Award – Xulfi for Coke Studio Season 14

This one’s a no-brainer. Coke Studio was a 13 year old sinking ship when Zulfiqar Jabbar Khan, aka Xulfi, came on board as curator and producer and set it sailing skywards. The live singing format was replaced by stylized videos, the penchant for revamping classic songs was eliminated and a lineup of completely original songs was created and sets of 30 songs released in past seasons were replaced by 13 hit numbers. Set directors, costume designers, art directors and musicians were all brought together to create the new-age Coke Studio, which was as much of a visual experience as it was a musical one.

Later in the year, Coke Studio held its first live concert in Dubai which also featured Norwegian dance troupe Quickstyle. The group then visited Karachi, dancing to the season’s hits as they roamed the city.

It was an all-new Coke Studio, setting all-new precedents. New talent was highlighted and new worldwide records were set as the world hummed to Pasoori or danced to Kana Yaari or listened, transfixed, to Tu Jhoom. 2022 was a great year for Pakistani music and the credit for this is largely because of Coke Studio Season 14.

I am just hoping that the magic goes on and on in the next seasons.

Blockbuster Song of the Year Award – Pasoori

Pasoori was a force to reckon with, all on its own. The song debuted unassumingly on Coke Studio Season 14, a duet between Ali Sethi and Shae Gill, a new artist with distinctive, beautiful vocals. The song topped the charts in Pakistan and stayed at the no. 1 slot for months. But its success quickly moved beyond the local diaspora.

International stars could be seen listening to Pasoori, linking the song to their Instagram videos. Ali Sethi would sing the song in concerts in the U.S.A. and the crowds would sing along. The song was most Googled this year, it was no. 1 in Spotify’s yearly listing and was also one of YouTube’s most listened to songs of the year. It was the sort of song that gets stuck in your head, undulating between highs and lows, so catchy that you want to listen to it again and again.

Blockbusters like that just don’t come along all the time.

Telefilm of the Year Award – Ruposh

Early in the year, while cinemas had only just started operating, 7th Sky Entertainment decided to air out a telefilm on Geo Entertainment which delivered a cinematic experience, on TV. Ruposh, with two very young actors in the lead – Haroon Kadwani and Kinza Hashmi – was a classic romance straight out of ‘80’s Bollywood.

It was the sort of angtsy love story that many of us have grown up on, with song, plenty of emotions and an eventual happy ending. The casting of fresh young faces rather than actors who had been around for a few years also helped. They had a youthful energy about them and were not associated with a slew of roles that they had played in the past.

Ruposh ended up being one of the year’s biggest hits, having hauled in nearly 200 Million views in YouTube at the time at which this article was written. It proved that telefilms didn’t have to follow staid, moralistic storylines – that they could bring in a mix of romance, violence, music, just like the movies.

Coolest Brand Award – Rastah

Rastah was cool in 2021. It continued to be so this year. The luxe street-wear brand with the statement hoodies, tees and suits was seen literally everywhere – everywhere cool, that is. From Gen-Z Pakistani rockstars like Asim Azhar and Hassan Raheem to popular actors like Sheheryar Munawar to Oscar-winner Riz Ahmed and ‘Ms. Marvel’ Iman Vellani to Bollywood power-players like Anil Kapoor and Karan Johar, it’s fast become the street-wear brand for fashion aficionados who want to stand out.

The brand is increasingly recognizable. For one, the Rastah label is often printed on the clothes, especially the T-shirts. Also, there’s a quirky mix of texture, color and print that now can be pinpointed as its signature aesthetic. It’s all indicative of how Rastah is growing as a brand. The designs are young and refreshing and the celebrity clout only makes them more covetable. More and more frequently, you see Rastah, worn at food festivals by young college students or on the red carpet, by up-and-coming social media influencers.

It may be limited edition, it may be pricey, but there are many who are willing to pay that price for a statement jacket that defines ‘cool’.

Best Ramzan Comedy Award – Chaudhry and Sons

The Ramzan drama race has become a very competitive one, with channels churning out multiple productions that air all through the 30 day long month. The dramas have to be feel-good, merging family values with romance, ideally with heavy doses of comedy. It’s a tried and tested formula, but one that not all manage to master.

In the crowd of Ramzan dramas released this year, Chaudhry and Sons, directed by Syed Wajahat Hussain and produced by 7th Sky Entertainment, dealt out exactly what one needed after a long day of fasting. There was the script, peppered with hilarity and emotions. And then there was the cast: Imran Ashraf Awan, Ayeza Khan, Yasir Nawaz, Zoya Nasir, Sohail Ahmed, Isra Ghazal, Saqib Sumeer, Noor ul Hassan and Asma Abbas, among others. This very powerful ensemble really pulled the punches, with Imran Ashraf declaring ‘Yo, yo!’ – people started chanting it out to the actor wherever he went – to Ayeza Khan once again pulling off the role of the naïve, comical young heroine to Sohail Ahmed and Irsa Ghazal brilliant in their roles as grandparents.

A close second to Chaudhry and Sons, which aired on Geo Entertainment, would be Hum Network’s Hum Tum. Certainly, the chemistry between Hum Tum’s lead characters, played by Ahad Raza Mir and Ramsha Khan, will long be remembered. The drama, however, suffered due to a multitude of repetitive scenes.

The Ramzan drama format may be a staid one, but it isn’t easy to churn out 30 episodes to be aired daily.

Stellar Performance Award – Yumna Zaidi

Yumna Zaidi became Bakhtawar this year – her hair snipped short, wearing baggy masculine clothes and speaking in a thick voice. The drama, which continues to air on the Hum TV Network, is testament to the actress’ sheer talent. It is a treat to see her transition again and again from the forthright Bakhtawar, facing challenges simply because of her gender, to the boyish Bakhtu who squarely looks the world in the eye and does whatever he wants. This is truly one of Yumna’s most outstanding performances, further emphasizing on what a brilliant actor she is.

Now if only the drama didn’t slow down so much, dragging through a few episodes, the audience would enjoy it even more. Sadly, there’s nothing an actor can do about that.

Fastest Brand Growth Award – Mohsin Naveed Ranjha

“From Gujranwala to Bollywood,” designer Mohsin Naveed Ranjha posted on his Instastory some days ago, with a picture of Bollywood starlet Janhvi Kapoor wearing his design at a shoot that took place in Jaipur, India.

Truly, in a span of four odd years, the MNR brand has expanded from a catwalk debut at the HUM Network’s Bridal Couture Week to a swanky flagship store in Lahore, another that has just opened in Karachi, a series of well-conceived campaigns, a glimpse in Disney+’s Ms. Marvel and even the occasional shoot with a Bollywood star – so far, the designer has shot with Sara Ali Khan and Janhvi Kapoor and he hinted to me that there are more shoots to come.

The brand growth has been exemplary – you see women around you wearing MNR, celebrities opt for the designer on Eid and when they are heading out to a wedding and Mohsin keeps things interesting by coming up with unique campaigns.

What one would like to see now is a distinct design signature so that when you see an MNR design, you can recognize it from far away. The Bollywood stars can add razzle dazzle but the mark of a truly fashion forward brand lies in finesse and a clear-cut signature.

Craziest Thing That Trended Award – Shiza Fiza

This was the year when we were in rollicks – and slightly appalled – by a drama storyline which showed a switcheroo between identical twins on their wedding night. Kiran Tabeer played both Shiza and Fiza in the drama Haqeeqat which aired on ATV Plus in 2020 but only got discovered by mainstream media this year. Both twins are married in the same house, at the same time, to two brothers, but end up in the rooms of the wrong grooms.

It was extremely cringey – and a sad indication of just how tacky our dramas can be – but also so ridiculous that you would be guffawing as you saw the clip again and again. Twitter was flooded with memes and my favorite clip was the one by Ali Gul Pir, reenacting the scene.

Fashion’s Most Glamorous Award – Faraz Manan

Could there be any doubt that no one wields unadulterated glamor quite as well as Faraz Manan? The year started off with a Faraz Manan solo show in Dubai, where the city’s well-heeled were in attendance, featuring a dazzling lineup of fully embellished gowns and suits. The fabric moved seamlessly, gowns with long trails glided down the catwalk, sequined bra-lets came paired with skirts, there were capes that you’d want to hold on to forever and subtle, very elegant menswear.

But Faraz wasn’t done with pulling his punches. All through the year, a number of stars, Pakistani as well as international, were seen wearing his clothes; iconic names like Deepika Padukone, Madhuri Dixit, Mahira Khan and Karan Johar and up-and-coming starlets like Sara Ali Khan, Janhvi Kapoor, Ananya Pandey, Nora Fatehi, Vaani Kapoor and Disha Patani. And what did some of these stars wear when they posed for Elle India? Faraz Manan, of course.

The great thing about Faraz is that he never really goes about blowing his trumpet. He’ll just occasionally put up a classy image on his Instagram and sit back and enjoy himself while the world gets enraptured by the sheer glamor that is his forte.

Losing their Groove Award – the Lux Style Awards

The sad accolade of losing one’s groove – it’s not exactly an accolade, is it? – goes to this year’s Lux Style Awards (LSA’s) which may have had featured some very upbeat performances and spurts of comedy but suffered from a sheer lack of star power. The LSA’s are one of Pakistani entertainment’s longest standing ceremonies and have promoted and supported local talent for 21 long years now. One waits for them. One guesses at the results. One looks forward to the red carpet, dotted with fashion and entertainment’s biggest players.

Sadly, this year’s LSA’s lacked energy. Perhaps better planning, a reinvention of staid formats and more clear-cut scheduling – we only got to know about the LSA’s about a week before they were supposed to take place! – could help. And next year, we could be celebrating a star-studded, power-packed LSA yet again.

Thought Provoking Story Award – Mrs and Mr Shameem

Saba Qamar and Naumaan Ijaz played Mrs and Mr Shameem in this Zee5 series that many in Pakistan couldn’t see because of the ongoing ban on paying through local credit cards for the OTT platform’s subscription. Those who did get to see it were left in awe.

Bolstered by extremely powerful performances and a story that tugged at the heart, the series was layered with subliminal messages: among them, the taunts and preconceived notions that an effeminate man has to bear with, the realities of postpartum depression, the misuse of religion as a tool for repression and the stigmas attached to certain diseases.

Directed by Kashif Nisar and written by Saji Gul, Mrs and Mr Shameem was a story that made you hope for a happy ending, cry for it and think about all that was laced within the narrative.

Thought Provoking Story Award – Dobara

Hum Network’s Dobara, starring Bilal Abbas Khan and Hadiqa Kiani, was a story with a difference. He was a younger man and she an older woman who had just gotten divorced. When they got married, it caused a furor amongst their friends and family. Together, they navigated the ups and downs that came their way until finally realizing the worth of their relationship.

It wasn’t your usual TV drama romance but a necessary one, pointing out that a woman could choose to remarry, perhaps even someone younger, without bothering with what the world had to say. Credit must be given to director Danish Nawaz and the ensemble cast – among them, the leads, along with Sakina Samo, Zoya Nasir, Javed Sheikh and Usama Khan – who acted extremely well.

The drama could have had ended in a more convincing way but regardless Dobara will always be memorable.

Sweetest Couple Award – Asim Azhar and Merub Ali

In March this year, Asim Azhar and Merub Ali announced that they were engaged and of course, many of us had been expecting it. The couple’s engagement pictures were sweet, where they exchanged rings with their mothers by their sides.

Ever since, the two have posted more frequently about each other: she cheers for him at his concerts, singing along to the songs; he watches her dramas, tagging her in the Instastories; they pose together at events and give the occasional interview. And they’re always smiling, always seemingly so happy together.

That makes him the sweetest couple this year – perhaps next year too? When’s the shaadi, guys?

Here, there, everywhere! Award – Ahsan Khan

Back in 2017, Ahsan Khan spoke to a news reporter in London and told him, in a British accent, that he was ‘A British Asian actor who works here and there as well … yeah’. Come 2022, the video somehow resurfaced and began to trend all over again. Memes were getting made, desi Twitter was in hysterics and instead of getting appalled, Ahsan Khan was having a laugh along with everyone else!

Joining in on the fun, Ahsan made a video with his boys, playing the voiceover from that long-ago video. He then went off and devised merchandise, T-shirts declaring ‘Here and There’. It’s refreshing to see an actor who doesn’t get blinded by his ego and is able to take a joke.

But there are more reasons why Ahsan is here and there – he just is everywhere! This year, he was brilliant as the possessive but good at heart Darakhzai in the drama ‘Mere Humnasheen’. He is also starring in the currently on air Fraud, playing a double-dealing, immoral villain that we all love to hate.

His movies Chakkar and Rebhra also released this year, although I would rather remember his drama roles in this year-ender. Furthermore, his talk show Time Out with Ahsan Khan on Express TV raked in very high ratings, featuring tell-all celeb interviews and plenty of joking around.

From hosting to TV dramas to cinema to a very active social media presence, Ahsan wasn’t lying when he said that he was ‘here and there … yeah’.

Star of the Year Award – Saba Qamar

This was Saba Qamar’s year, through and through. Her movie Ghabrana Nahi Hai, a feel-good family entertainer, released on Eid and broke box office records. Saba followed this milestone with yet another one, with Sarmad Khoosat’s magical Kamli. Completely in contrast to her peppy, energetic character in Ghabrana Nahi Hai, she was the repressed woman in Kamli, her eyes and silence reflecting her tortured soul.

Chameleon-like, Saba then switched to TV with the drama Fraud, where she is the obedient daughter with strong moral values and opinions. In the realm of web-series, Saba acted in Zee5’s Mrs and Mr Shameem, a poignant story where she held her own against Naumaan Ijaz. She was also the irrepressible Naina in UrduFlix’s ‘Naina ki Sharafat’, wearing a slinky sequined dress and delivering some sharp one-liners.

It’s been some year for Saba Qamar – and yet one wants to see more of her next year!

Movie of the Year Award – The Legend of Maula Jatt

The Legend of Maula Jatt stormed into cinemas and showed the world what Pakistani cinema could be all about. There is so much about the movie that is remarkable: the stellar performances by the entire ensemble of actors, the elaborate sets, the impeccable styling, the dialogues in nuanced Punjabi which make impact even if you don’t entirely understand the language, the special effects, the action and all the tiny little details that make you want to watch the movie again and again.

Making box office history within Pakistan as well as internationally, there are so many that can be credited for TlOMJ’s phenomenal success: actors Fawad Khan, Hamza Ali Abbasi, Mirza Gohar Rasheed, Faris Shafi, Mahira Khan and Humaima Malick, stylists Maram and Aabroo, wardrobe designers Fahad Hussayn and Zara Shahjahan, producer Ammara Hikmat, scriptwriter Nasir Adeeb and above all, wunderkind director Bilal Lashari at the helm, expertly putting together all the pieces that make TLoMJ a movie that we are so proud to call our own.

Movie of the Year Award – Kamli

Sarmad Khoosat’s Kamli had a simple enough story. What made it special were the nuances added to its narrative. When you recalls the movie now, you remember the melancholy in Saba Qamar’s eyes, the madness simmering within Sania Saeed, the sheer suffocation, the despair, the hope, played out to the tune of the most beautiful soundtrack.

The movie was a masterpiece, a testament to Sarmad Khoosat’s talent and to the acting prowess of his incredible cast. As it wrapped up, Kamli left you wondering, pondering over the details and wanting to see it all over again.

All-Rounder Award – Amar Khan

Amar Khan’s a girl of many, many talents. She can certainly act and she tends to haul in high TV ratings every time she plays the weepy good girl. Her talents, though, lie beyond crying believably on TV. She wrote the script of her own movie Dum Mastam, which released this year and also starred her as the female lead. And give her a peppy number and Amar will dance like a pro! In Dum Mastam, she shook a leg to the peppy Ladki Achari and at the Lux Style Awards this year, she was the highlight in the upbeat tribute to the late Nazia Hassan. And then her drama Daraar also hauled in top ratings.

Intelligent, intuitive and talented – Amar’s an absolute firecracker. This year was testament to her skills and the future looks pretty bright.

Biggest Hit Drama Award – Mere Humsafar

Mere Humsafar was undeniably the year’s biggest hit, hauling in high ratings throughout its whopping 40 episodes-long run. The drama, undulating through harrowing twists and turns, exemplified director Qasim Ali Mureed’s understanding of what TV audiences want to see, which is evidently lots of angst and family politics with a strong romance forming the story’s backbone. What TV audiences also want to see now is more of Farhan Saaed and Hania Aamir together, the two main leads of Mere Humsafar, who now have multiple fan-clubs dedicated to their on-screen pairing!

Most Romantic TV Hero Award – Farhan Saeed

Farhan Saeed is extremely skilled at playing the romantic hero. We had an inkling of this when he acted opposite Urwa Hocane in Udaari, we got quite sure about it when he was paired opposite Iqra Aziz in the hit Suno Chanda series and now, following the success of Mere Humsafar, you may as well put it out on a billboard: Farhan Saeed is TV’s Most Romantic Hero.

He’s also most popular, extremely well-loved with fans all over the world who perpetually share video clips of his acting roles and interviews and wait in vain for his next appearance.

This year also marked Farhan’s cinematic debut as the main lead in the movie Tich Button, which he also co-produced. The movie was an entertainer, albeit with some flaws, and it established that Farhan can is very capable of working his magic on the cinema screen.

To add to his praise, the actor sings beautifully – especially, the romantic songs. He is, after all, TV’s Most Romantic.

Trailblazer Award – Ms. Marvel

We loved Ms. Marvel, the series which aired on Disney + Hotstar, because it sought to realistically depict the many cultural idiosyncrasies that are unique to a Pakistani household. We laughed at the Shahrukh Khan jokes and the frequent, somewhat predictable, depictions of Pakistani parenting. But more than anything else we loved how the series put Pakistan on the international roadmap, we cheered when we saw Fawad Khan, Mehwish Hayat, Samina Ahmed and Nimra Bucha on the screen, we tapped our feet to Coke Studio’s Pasoori and Nazia Hassan’s Disco Deewanay when it played out in the series and we were so proud that Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy was one of the co-directors.

We are also relieved that finally, a major international series, focuses on Pakistan without adding negative connotations to it. It was about time.

Funniest Content Creator Award – Taimoorii

Taimoorii, aka Taimoor Akbar, has a flair for creating short Instagram videos on the silliest of topics and making them hilarious. He’ll zone in on everyday life and make a meme out of it. Unpretentious and very witty, this young content creator made the Internet a lot of fun all through the year.

Most Promising Talent Award – Khushhal Khan

Khushhal Khan used to be that boy who was seen in a fashion video, dancing along with a group of models at a make-believe wedding. He is now much more than just that boy. Slowly, surely, the young actor has been honing his craft and you can see him very evidently improving with every new role.

This year, he was first seen in 7th Sky Entertainment’s hugely successful Mushkil, where he was the male lead opposite Saboor Aly. Now, he can be seen in the currently airing Wehshi on the Hum TV Network, where he takes on a very complicated role and is managing to do justice to it.

A few more dramas and Khushhal Khan could possibly become one of TV’s most popular heroes. There’s much more to him than just good looks (the good lucks help, of course)!

Taking Fashion Forward Award – Hussain Rehar

Hussain Rehar is indubitably one of Pakistan’s brightest young sparks. He is also a silver lining in the desultory landscape that now encompasses Pakistani fashion. Merely four years into his career, Hussain has understood the importance of commercial design but insists on giving it an artistic twist that is uniquely his own. There will be an unconventional burst of color in a Hussain Rehar creation or a quirky embellished motif placed on a pocket or sleeve. From luxury-wear to red carpet designs to unstitched formal-wear, Hussain’s out-of-the-box signature is very visible in his creations.

And because he loves what he does so much, he isn’t willing to wait till fashion councils wake up from their post-pandemic slumber and begin organizing collective designer fashion weeks again. Instead, Hussain simply opts to fly solo – he did so two years ago and this year, he showcased his latest couture line ‘Moraan Sarkar’ in Lahore’s historic Shalamar Garden.

Just because Pakistani fashion at large is in a state of ennui, a designer shouldn’t have to let go of his passion. Hussain Rehar, paving his own path, making his own mark, is certainly taking fashion forward.

Stuck in a Boring Retail Bubble Award – Karachi’s Fashion Industry

This unhappy award goes to the many Karachi-based fashion designers who would once be the highlight at any fashion show but are now, sadly, stuck in a boring, repetitive retail bubble. Trendsetting ateliers are now simply churning out forgettable but pretty wedding-wear that would appeal to customers. No one wants to invest time and effort into a fashion show because they would rather put up pictures on Instagram and sell clothes online. Barring a few interesting campaigns and collections – Shehla Chatoor, Umar Sayeed, Rizwan Beyg and Zaheer Abbas put out some truly beautiful clothes – the rest of the Karachi fashion frat seems to have lost its passion for up-ending staid trends, making a few vivacious statements, curating a ‘fashion experience’ with a well-planned show.

Why bother when you could invest a minimal amount into a generic fashion shoot that could be placed on your e-store and appeal to the largely traditional, not very experimental, clientele that dominates the Pakistani market?

But if designers don’t bother, new trends will not get introduced. Fashion will no longer be exciting. We’ll forever be stuck in a flood of lehngas, ghararas and – God forbid – peplums.

To be fair, most designers in Lahore are similarly fixated with retail but one stills sees a few fashion shows surface in the city. Every month, a small smattering of creative fashion shoots emerge on social media and they almost always originate from Lahore.

Karachi’s fashon fraternity consists of some of fashion’s brightest, most powerful names. If only they’d wake up.

Costume Design and Styling Award – Maram Abroo, Fahad Hussayn, Zara Shahjahan

A separate accolade had to be set aside for Maram Azmat, Aabroo Hashmi, Fahad Hussayn and Zara Shahjahan for their spectacular behind the scenes efforts during the making of The Legend of Maula Jatt. Bilal Lashari’s magnum opus owes much of its brilliance to the painstaking attention to detail throughout the movie. Quite a few of these details could be credited to stylists Maram Aabroo and designers Fahad Hussayn and Zara Shahjahan who created the outfits for the male and female characters respectively.

Beards were crafted from yak hair, nails would need to be realistically caked with mud, synthetic blood had to be splashed about and hair and makeup would have to be devised for every character, unique to their particular personality traits. Aabroo went to London and did a wig-making course at Pinewood studios and both she and Maram reached out to a prosthetic and makeup artist who worked frequently with Marvel Studios and learnt the ropes from him.

Fahad Hussayn, in the meantime, felt that the characters’ wardrobes needed to be true to the time that they lived in. He utilized organic fabrics, colored with natural dyes, and created free-flowing silhouettes with minimal stitching. He then proceeded to create accessories for the men: money bags, gauntlets, swords and belts! With his signature penchant for details, Fahad researched and sketched, creating looks that suited every character. His effort shows!

Zara Shahjahan, envisioning what the women would wear, utilized basic khaddar to create clothes for Mahira Khan’s Mukkho and more luxurious, elaborate designs for Humaima Malick’s Daaro.

It is a lot of effort to make for a single movie – but what a movie it is! In a world where the most ghastly, garish outfits are selected by official stylists hired by film production companies, people could learn a thing or two from the TLoMJ team.

Absolutely Outstanding Award – the cast of The Legend of Maula Jatt

Separate awards could be set aside for the cast of The Legend of Maula Jatt but that would just make things extremely longwinded. It’s just that every actor in the movie acted brilliantly – credit for this also has to be given to director Bilal Lashari. It was a pleasure to see Fawad Khan finally making his return to the spotlight as the fiery-eyed, tortured Maula. Fawad’s acting prowess is in a league of its own, often his eyes simply speak for him and he can say a single dialogue in a well-calculated tone and you remember it till much later. Also back on screen was the brilliant Hamza Ali Abbasi. Kohl-eyed, evil to the core, Hamza swaggered, murdered and spoke in fluent, poetic Punjabi as Noori Natt. Gohar Rasheed – flashing a gold tooth that he especially got placed for the role! – proved his mettle as the nefarious Maakha. His character may have had been a villainous one but every time Gohar came on screen, you simply wanted to see more of him. Faris Shafi as Mooda was yet another highlight as Maula’s carefree, wisecracking friend who has some of the most entertaining scenes in the movie.

Mahira Khan as Mukkho, provided lightness and humor completely in contrast to the melancholic darkness that surrounds Maula. Humaima Malick was spectacular as Daaro, ruthless, selfish, taking pleasure in murder and crime.

One could go on and on and talk about Saima Baloch, Nayyar Ejaz, Shafqat Cheema, Raheela Agha, Ali Azmat. It was just that kind of movie.

International Winner Award – Joyland

Joyland, directed by Saim Sadiq and co-produced by Sarmad Khoosat, may have had its tussles with the censor boards in Pakistan but it had an extremely successful run in the international festival circuit. At this year’s Cannes Film Festival, where the movie was first screened, the movie received a standing ovation. It then proceeded to win awards at festivals all over the world. Come 2023, Joyland is Pakistan’s entry for the Oscar Awards.

This year has been a great one for Joyland. Next year could be too!

Most Thought-Provoking Fashion Campaign Award – Generation

High street brand Generation has always singled itself out with its well thought-out campaigns and towards the tail-end of the year, the brand came up with a concept that sorely needs to be popularized in Pakistan: the Nikkahnama and how a woman needs to make sure that it fulfils all that she requires from her marriage.

“We’re taught at a young age to never signing any document without reading it first. Shouldn’t Nikkahnama be given the same treatment?” the brand asks in an Instagram post.

It’s fashion, packaged intelligently. More brands need to follow this precedent rather than simply rely on pretty pictures, ‘inspired’ by a shoot that they saw in British Vogue!

Powerhouse Performance Award – Hiba Bukhari

Hiba Bukhari is hardly a new name to the drama industry. Her acting prowess has been lauded in the past as well. One has to, however, particularly acknowledge the two sharply contrasting TV drama roles played by Hiba this year – one, of a Pakhtoon girl beating down regressive traditional customs in order to pursue her dream of becoming a doctor in Mere Humnasheen and the second, of a wife who walks out of a marriage when she finds out that her husband is cheating on her in Pehchaan.

The former character is outspoken and youthful while the latter speaks with a weariness gained over the years. To take on two such opposing roles and perform them so believably exemplifies that Hiba is one of the most powerful actresses in Pakistan today.

Pakistan’s Sweetheart Award – Hania Aamir

Hania Aamir’s character in Mere Humsafar endured an unbelievable amount of emotional torture, got kicked out of her home and bore an endless torrent of taunts … and became Pakistani TV audience’s favorite sweetheart. This does tend to happen. The TV audience has a fixation for the tortured heroine who only gets a happy ending only after a long, happy life.

Credit must be given, though, to how well Hania played the naïve Hala. There are plenty of tortured heroines scattered all across the TV drama diaspora. It’s a competitive field. And Hania’s topping the charts.

Most Exceptional Story Award – Jo Bichar Gaye

Set in East Pakistan, with a story that leads to the eventual creation of Bangladesh, Jo Bichar Gaye’s beauty lay in the human emotions that were layered within its plot, bolstered by exceptional acting. With great sensitivity, director Haissam Hussein narrated the sad history that lead to partition, the bloodshed, violence and the lives that were torn apart. From the locales created to realistically depict East Pakistan back in the 1970’s to the performances by Wahaj Ali, Maya Ali and Talha Chahour, the drama was exceptional.

Best Debut Award – Talha Chahour

You couldn’t tell that Talha Chahour was making his TV debut when he came on screen as Captain Farrukh in Jo Bichar Gaye. Where most new actors fumble, Talha’s performance was seamless. His dialogue delivery, emotional scenes and on-screen presence defined him as a very talented young actor.

TV’s Most Powerful Hero Award – Wahaj Ali

Rumi in Jo Bichar Gaye was not an easy character to play. And yet, it was a character that could define an actor’s career, placing him squarely amongst the very few who were not merely popular with the audience but were also critically acclaimed for their craft. Wahaj Ali is now amongst that select group. Rumi was tortured, complex and Wahaj slipped into his skin effortlessly, speaking in a restrained voice, depicting emotions with his eyes and facial expressions. When Rumi broke down, everyone watching broke down with him.

What a powerful performance. One hopes that TV producers and directors recognize this young actor’s potential and offer him roles worthy of his talent. The typical TV hero wouldn’t do him justice after this performance.

TV’s Most Underutilized / Best Villain on TV Award – Yasir Hussain

Yasir Hussain gave you goose-bumps as he sneered, murdered and threatened in Badshah Begum. He put out a bone-chilling performance in Javed Iqbal: The Untold Story of A Serial Killer which sadly got banned before cinema audiences across the country could see it. He then turned director with the out-of-the-box, riveting Aik Thi Laila, currently airing on Express Entertainment.

Also, one has to acknowledge Yasir’s glib sense of humor. When he comes on stage for an awards show or in a talk show interview, you can always expect a deluge of witticisms. Some of these jokes, however, can be controversial. That’s just Yasir Hussain for you.

Talented to the core, with a strong on-screen presence, building a career that does not rely on viable but repetitive work, Yasir Hussain is definitely underutilized. He’s the sort of actor that can make magic out of an unconventional role when it comes his way – directors and production companies need to realize this.

He’s also this year’s Best TV villain. Because he was just so scary in Badshah Begum.

Most Promising! Award – Komal Meer

This was the year when Komal Meer stood out as one of TV’s most promising young names. From the tempestuous Roshan Ara in Badshah Begum to the holier than thou Dur e Adan in the currently on air Qalandar to the complicated Sobia in Wehshi, Komal has proven her mettle in a variety of diverse roles. Dainty, gorgeous and very talented, this is an actress to watch out for!

Keeping Couture Alive Award – Rizwan Beyg

Rizwan Beyg’s solo at the Pantene Hum Bridal Couture Week came at the tail-end of the year and gave testament to the designer’s extraordinary take on craft. At a time when machine embroideries have taken over fashion, Rizwan Beyg’s atelier still boasts a large proportion of hand-crafted designs, all extraordinarily created by village women who have been trained by the couturier himself.

The dainty stitches, coming together to form paisleys, trellises and geometric patterns in gota and panni, were an ode to the wealth of craft indigenous to Pakistan.

Absolutely breathtaking. Rizwan Beyg always has been and continues to be in a league of his own.

On-Screen Magic! Award – Ahad Raza Mir and Ramsha Khan in Hum Tum

There’s nothing quite like a feel-good romance between two warring neighbours who eventually realise that they are in love. But while it may be one of the oldest stories in the books, not many actors and drama storylines are able to get it right.

However, Ahad Raza Mir and Ramsha Khan, as Adam and Neha in this year’s Ramzan hit drama Hum Tum on the Hum TV Network, had the audience sighing and smiling wistfully.
The actors’ on-screen chemistry and well-honed acting skills were the drama’s highlight and one hopes to see more of the two of them together.

Soaring High Award – Sarmad Khoosat

One could write odes about the talented Mr Khoosat; his way with marrying words with visuals, of creating poetry out of the simplest stories, of delving into narratives with a difference.

This was a year in which he soared high. He may have felt demoralised by the banning of Zindagi Tamasha but his Kamli may have soothed some of his wounds. A haunting, beautifully told story, it was the sort of movie that stayed with you long after you had watched it. The twists and turns to Kamli were riveting, the characters were well-defined, there was an air of mystery, of sadness, of hope and yet, when you came to think of it, the story in itself was a simple one. How it became one of Pakistani cinema’s most spectacular narratives is testament to Sarmad Khoosat’s genius.

Hot on the heels of Kamli’s success, came Joyland, co-produced by Sarmad, which steamrolled its way through multiple international festivals, won awards and accolades, managed to release in Pakistan despite obstacles and has now been selected as one of the nominees in the Foreign Film category for the Oscar Awards next year!

Sarmad Khoosat’s talent knows no bounds. He is truly one of our finest.

Most Viral Meme Award – Adnan Siddiqui

Early in the year, Adnan Siddiqui took a selfie of himself with fire and smoke billowing in the background. The raging fire consisted of drugs and liquor seized by the Customs Enforcement in Karachi and subsequently set ablaze.

Immediately, the image went viral and became one of the year’s most popular memes, connected with cricket, politics, fasaadi phuppos, et al!

Certainly, even Adnan Siddiqui, when he put on his blue sunshades and took a selfie, couldn’t have had realised that he would be the source of so much social media hilarity all through the year!

Most Exciting Brand to Have Emerged – Iqbal Hussain

If there’s one new name that’s stood out in Pakistani fashion’s predominantly stagnating waters, it is that of Iqbal Hussain.

The designer simply surfaced on the Internet with a variety of very stylish shoots that showcased his high fashion aesthetic. He’s also been sporadically dressing select celebrities – Resham and Mahira Khan come to mind – and while celebrities’ collaborations with designers are now so prevalent that they can be forgettable, it is once again Iqbal’s unique ethos that makes his clothes memorable.

He was also the focal point in a longwinded debate this year when a design of his worn by Mahira Khan turned out to be very, very expensive.

Setting this debate aside, Iqbal Hussain has a distinctive, refreshing aesthetic. One hopes to see more of his work in the future; beyond the realms of Instagram, perhaps? Maybe on a catwalk?














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