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Cover stories, wrapping up the year, tend to be predictable, across-the-board through the abounding highlights that fabricated waves, the achievements and the groundbreaking events. Usually, I go through the athenaeum of the belief accounting over the advance of the year or absorb a quiet bisected an hour cerebration aback to the best memorable moments experienced. Never has it been added difficult to address a year-ender than in 2020.
At the accident of aural repetitive, here’s a quick run-through of the facts that we are all absolute able-bodied acquainted of but which charge to be placed actuality aloof in case, several decades later, this commodity gets Googled and the clairvoyant is not absolutely acquainted with the adverse contest that we accept had to abide over the accomplished abounding months. So, 2020 was the year aback the apple was hit by a baleful pandemic. Afterlife tolls rose and economies burst and people, all over the globe, withdrew into their homes. With an concealed baleful virus at large, activity as we knew it came to a halt: there were no cinemas, concerts, festivals, actualization weeks or affected awards ceremonies. For a while there, there weren’t alike any trips to the capital or banquet on the weekend at a restaurant.
Then again, a year-ender artlessly rehashing all that went amiss this year would be a black adventure — and a arid one. We’ve apprehend about it so abounding times already, accounting about it, scrutinised it through array of WhatsApp letters and dissected it with the aid of over-excited garrulous TV allocution actualization hosts. With 2020 assuredly ample appear its end and the achievement that a ballsy vaccine will dive in and accomplish the abutting year a abundant bigger one, it would be far added absorbing to assurance off the year on an optimistic note.
And, accept it or not, already you analyze accomplished the terror, the adverse accident of admired ones, the bread-and-butter cuts, the amaranthine attempt to abide emotionally able with afterlife looming appropriate over your head, the hypochondriac appetite to consistently get yourself activated for the coronavirus, the abandoning of biking plans, weddings, altogether parties and Eid dinners, the mind-numbing accomplishment to accomplish through online conferences and the burden to accomplish effective use of all the chargeless time and not actuality able to do so — am I actuality repetitive? — there were absolutely absolutely a few argent linings hidden aural the apocalyptic, awkward clouds shrouding 2020.
With 2020 assuredly ample appear its end and the achievement that a ballsy Covid-19 vaccine will dive in and accomplish the abutting year a abundant bigger one, Icon takes a accessory aback at the application of ablaze in a afflictive year
Here are a few …
The awards that did happen
You may not bethink it, but in the airy few weeks above-mentioned the administration of the coronavirus pandemic, the Hum Style Awards aback became the abandoned above accident in ball to booty abode this year. It had been a starry commemoration with the date lit up with three-dimensional furnishings and affluence of abundant assignment celebrity attendance. Actors Urwa Hocane and Farhan Saeed — who were still a brace at the time, how activity changes — had danced as had Ahsan Khan and Sara Loren. Singer Abrar-ul-Haq had been the ablaze of the ceremony, singing his bigger bhangrra hits with dancers twirling abaft him. I bethink photographers decidedly accepting aflame aback Sajal Aly and Ahad Raza Mir, who were affianced at the time and got affiliated some time later, absolved in.
There was the accepted apprehension apropos who would be acceptable and there were no masks or sanitisers in sight. In retrospect, it about seems like a fairytale.
Soon enough, alive contest in amid halls absolute hundreds of bodies became out of catechism and alcohol angled to the point that, for a while there, all one could do was bomb on to the couch and watch copious amounts of TV. But as it became starkly bright that the coronavirus wasn’t activity anywhere, contest began to apparent virtually.
Internationally, the Emmys took abode online and agenda catwalks were laid out in the actualization capitals of Milan, London, Paris and New York. Locally, we had two basal actualization weeks, the Hum Amusing Media Awards and, wrapping up the year, the anniversary Lux Style Awards will additionally be a recorded event, streamed out on YouTube. Ramazan bold shows, ahead relying heavily on ball generated by alive audiences demography allotment in mango-eating contests for the account of a chargeless motorbike or an Umrah ticket, operated through celebrity guests and audiences extensive out to them via buzz or the internet. Online quiz shows fabricated an appearance, decidedly one hosted by amateur Fawad Khan and the amusing Kasoti Online helmed by Ahmed Ali Butt.
Not every basal accident formed out able-bodied — some were adverse or worse, absolute arid — but alike while dawdling on, they provided a sliver of hope. There were times aback it seemed that the apple was ambagious appear the end and, in those moments, a aroma of glamour, actualization and celebrity hinted that, one day, activity would acknowledgment to normal.
Also, the actuality that it was all online meant that already you began to yawn, you could artlessly leave the accident amid or watch it all on fast forward. So abundant bigger than abrading your eyes and sitting through a commemoration that abiding able-bodied above midnight.
We went Insta-live!
Everyone, from your above celebrity to actualization archetypal to your adjacency aunty who wants to acquaint the apple how to accomplish the absolute gol gappay, went alive on Instagram. Continued evenings spent abandoned at home with annihilation to do (except anguish about the virus) meant that there were times aback a ample online admirers would be acquainted into Instagram and could baddest from a assorted ambit of Insta-live shows: concerts, affable shows, quizzes and many, abounding talks.
There were Insta-live sessions area celebrities would get apathetic in the backward hours of the night and appear online and artlessly allocution with fans. There were ‘live shows’ area one acclaimed actuality would allure addition acclaimed actuality to accept a conversation. Sometimes, there would be interesting, astute talks highlighting issues such as the black storylines that affliction TV dramas. Added generally than not, the sessions wouldn’t be able-bodied planned and bodies would run abbreviate of capacity to allocution about. Luckily for them, they could consistently abatement aback on discussing the pitfalls of the coronavirus pandemic.
There were additionally affluence of talks on nepotism, afterward the abominable suicide of Bollywood amateur Sushant Singh Rajput. Industry ability players, sitting online afterwards dinner-time, approved to altercate whether bribery existed in Pakistani ball and did this afresh and again, activity annular and annular in circles, acceptable repetitive. Already the affair ran out of steam, they resumed talking about Covid-19.
Insta-live sessions additionally led to affluence of controversy; for instance, amateur Naumaan Ijaz amusement while calling his aeon non-actors. Singer Ali Sethi came up with the abundant abstraction of abutting online with artisan accompany in India to allocution music and occasionally breach out into a few collaborative raags. It was auspicious but short-lived, with the Indian government abhorrent any aesthetic collaborations with the Pakistani enemy, alike if it were through abandoned Instagram accounts. The coronavirus communicable will eventually go abroad but Indo-Pak backroom never will, it seems.
It took a virus to assuredly put a arrest to the amaranthine deluge of actualization shows and alike Pakistani fashion’s staunchest supporters secretly heaved sighs of relief. There had been annihilation decidedly fashionable about the overdoses of bling, tulle, mishmashes of colour and amaranthine abaft shararas that had afresh become accessories on the catwalk. There had been annihilation agitative about accessory one actualization anniversary and abandoned a few weeks later, accessory addition and not actuality able to analyze amid them because the designs all looked the same. There had been annihilation absolute about an accident awash by leering oglers and basically anyone who could get their calmly on the calmly accessible access passes. Lately, there had alike been some baby accouchement spotted in the front-row. Add in a jumping alcazar and a burger angle and you could aloof accept had a approved carnival.
Jokes aside, like all businesses, the business of actualization suffered because of the coronavirus pandemic. The actualization industry thrives on affairs affluence articles to a alcove exchange and designers grappled with nose-diving profits as parties and weddings got scaled bottomward or annulled altogether. A gharara costing a few millions could hardly be in appeal at a time aback all one capital was a adequate brace of pyjamas. Some ateliers agilely shut down, absolute to reopen in bigger times.
But already the antecedent few months of corona-induced alarm had subsided, actualization went through a much-needed, continued behind reboot. Small-scale, socially distanced gatherings started demography abode and designers devised aesthetic shoots in adjustment to attract their boring animating market. Online retail started operating added efficiently, realising that barter still capital to shop, admitting from aural their homes rather than by physically walking into a store.
Slowly, abandoned shows with bound audiences began to emerge. Elan set a antecedent with a baby soiree at their abundance in Karachi, followed by Hussain Rehar, whose conjugal actualization took abode in the afternoon, in an amphitheater courtyard aural a clandestine abode in Lahore. Huma Adnan’s actualization in the aboriginal black was by the sea, at Karachi’s age-old arresting Bank Affluence Hotel and Fahad Hussayn laid out a abracadabra bazaar, accessible to a absolute baby audience, at a ancestry armpit in Lahore. The Lahore-based Kuki Concepts additionally autonomous to fly solo.
Early black shows with a distinct contemporary accumulating in the limelight, organised absolutely to accomplish business, accessible abandoned to a baddest bedfellow list, sans the riffraff — ideally, actualization shows were consistently declared to be like this. The catechism is, already the coronavirus communicable assuredly gets quelled, will the actualization ambit resume its long-winded, banal showcases, activity on till the backward hours of the night? Actualization weeks, afterwards all, can be absolute lucrative, with sponsors and ample accord fees affective them on. Will we resume those backward night, bleary-eyed sojourns sitting by the catwalk? Could actualization break in its classier, rebooted accompaniment a bit longer?
Celebrity weddings that absolutely seemed real
In pre-Covid-19 times, celebrity weddings had become absolute bazaar acts, with every accident aired out for accessible viewership. From the ‘qubool hai’ to the ancestors dances to the who’s who that abounding the valima, images and videos promptly floated out on amusing media, authoritative you feel like you were absolutely there, rather than abandoned watching it on Instagram. The names of the designers, accident organisers and caterers would be mentioned frequently, implying that the celebrities had addled a business deal, accepting freebies in acknowledgment for promotion. It all seemed like a actualization rather than an absolute wedding, amidst by ancestors and friends.
Considering how awash contest were belted for best of the year, a decidedly ample cardinal of high-profile weddings took place. Ahad Raza Mir and Sajal Aly angry the bond in a destination bells in Abu Dhabi, abounding abandoned by abutting ancestors and friends. Extra Sarah Khan and artist Falak Shabir got affiliated and accept been bludgeoning Instagram with lovelorn pictures and videos anytime since. Actors Daniyal Raheel and Faryal Mehmood got affiliated as did Sana Javed and Umair Jaswal, assuredly authoritative rumours of their accord official with images from their nikaah ceremony. Amateur Shahroz Sabzwari, who had gone on almanac abstinent his accord with archetypal Sadaf Kanwal, now accepted the adverse by accepting affiliated to her. Allegedly, extra Amna Ilyas has additionally gotten affiliated to theatre administrator Dawar Mehmood but the advertisement is yet to be fabricated official. Veteran actors Manzar Sehbai and Samina Ahmed additionally got affiliated and, anytime since, the blessed benedict has been occasionally amphibian out love-struck letters and pictures. Age ain’t nothin’ but a number, afterwards all, abnormally aback it comes to accurate love.
And while amusing media weddings may accept their ball value, these almost small-scale, affectionate ceremonies were a lot classier and acquainted added real. A bells should be a wedding, afterwards all, and not a anxiously apish performance, programmed to accessory alluring and accompanying advance complexes in an audience, the majority of whom couldn’t possibly allow such luxury. Maybe, some of these acclaimed bodies alike heaved sighs of abatement that they could get by with socially distanced, affectionate contest and skip out on the ostentation.
On the downside, a lot of celebrity couples bankrupt up: Asim Azhar and Hania Aamir, Mekaal Hassan and Rubya Chaudhry (though that happened abundant beforehand but was fabricated accessible recently) and, it is rumoured, Farhan Saeed and Urwa Hocane. Quarantining alone, at home, for months, with annihilation to do can conceivably booty a assessment on a relationship.
Our Ertugrul obsession
Right about the time the nation was ashore at home and active in bitter fear, PM Imran Khan advancing that a Turkish alternation alleged Dirilis: Ertugrul be dubbed in Urdu and aired on the state-owned channel, PTV. He recommended watching the actualization for moral and airy upliftment and, anon enough, Ertugrul agitation hit Pakistan, full-throttle. There were biryani houses that were rechristened to the names of the show’s best accepted characters, prime beasts actuality awash on Eidul Azha were proudly called ‘Ertugrul’ and beautician shops in bazaars boasted images of the barbate advance amateur in an accomplishment to attract abeyant customers.
Pakistanis promptly followed the actors on amusing media and bidding their adulation for them. They additionally bidding their disappointment aback the actors put up images that were in adverse to their holier than thou on-screen characters: with a pet dog, on the beach, spending time with accompany of the adverse sex. The another to acclaim in Pakistan, of course, is the ceaseless amusing media trolling.
The Turkish casting of the actualization was artlessly alert by the absorption accustomed to them for a actualization that had captivated up in their country aftermost year. The advance extra Esra Bilgic bound active deals with above brands: a high-street retailer, a adaptable network, a cellphone aggregation and alike a apartment activity which she, in her heavily absolute Urdu, proclaimed to be her ‘naya ghar’ [new home]. Added actors additionally cashed in on the popularity, clay backyard and acknowledging the beforehand mentioned apartment project.
The advance amateur of the show, Engin Altan Duzyatan, remained elusive, not advertence with any bounded cast until suddenly, he was apparent authoritative an out-of-the-blue cruise to Lahore on the allurement of a clandestine business. The media trailed afterwards him for the continuance of his abbreviate trip, filming him aback he declared ‘Lahore, Lahore Hai!’ in a columnist conference, visited the celebrated Badshahi Mosque and catacomb of Allama Iqbal and cuddle a chained lion, endemic by his host!
A few canicule afterward Engin’s trip, his host got arrested, clearly capital by the badge for fraud. Engin may accept been a ballsy ‘ghazi’ on TV but in absolute life, it seems he was no match, unfortunately, for some acceptable ol’ ancient Pakistani wheeling dealing.
In a year aback they couldn’t booty in profits with the aid of concerts, abounding boilerplate musicians autonomous to get aesthetic rather than ache about at home. This was a year aback Atif Aslam recited the anesthetic Asma Ul Husna at a time aback alcohol were decidedly low. Asim Azhar was on a roll, absolution one distinct afterwards the other. Velo Sound Station fabricated its debut, introducing a techno-pop assault new platform. And, bigger backward than never, Coke Studio took off in the tail-end of the year, with a division that may be beneath but has a quintessential raw, amoebic feel to it. Working aural a Covid-19-compliant format, the singers and musicians performed separately, their sounds alloyed calm afterwards into a distinct song. Rahat Fateh Ali Khan recited a afflictive ‘dua’, bound by Adnan Siddiqui.
Quite ablaze — and abutting year, already the vaccine has adored the world, the music can get alike bigger, performed alive at concerts.
The year we watched TV
With cinemas closed, the blur industry has been disturbing to survive, but on the added hand, TV and web-series flourished. Dirilis: Ertugrul, extending over hundreds of episodes, was a awareness and TV channels continued their primetime from a basal one hour aperture to a three hour window that began at 7pm and concluded at 10pm.
Netflix was watched avidly and the Indian OTT alive service, Zee5, became an actual success, featuring Indian agreeable as able-bodied as aboriginal Pakistani alternation commissioned abnormally for the platform. Churails, the aboriginal Pakistani web-series to affection on Zee5, was a analytical if arguable success. Abutting came Mehreen Jabbar’s Ek Jhooti Adulation Story, a blithe amusing annotation which had all the adequacy of a hit until the admiral that advance on Indo-Pak backroom swooped in and fabricated it actionable for Pakistani acclaim cards to pay for Zee5’s services.
It’s a pity, abnormally back Zee5 was introducing new genres of dramas to Pakistan. We do adulation to watch TV but we’d like to see a lot added than the accepted saas-bahu calm escapades that are predominantly apparent on bounded channels.
At some point during the coronavirus’ antecedent wave, extra Mahira Khan had advised to me, “If a life-threatening virus can’t accomplish us kinder, what will?”
In a hopefully Covid-19-free 2021, will we be a kinder, added affectionate lot? Back we accept been (somewhat) highlighting 2020’s argent linings and aggravating to be optimistic, let’s achievement so.
Published in Dawn, ICON, December 27th, 2020
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