Hum TV introduces Bin Roye…finally!


The trailer to this film has released, ro ro kar and it comes with a ‘Releasing Soon’ promise, still no confirmed or even estimated date. Bin Roye, secretly dubbed as a Titanic on the sets – because of its long delays – finally emerged and gave Mahira Khan fans something to look forward to. Here’s what my first impression is:

Bin Roye is going to struggle to look like a feature film; it’s cast and crew is too close to television and that shows in the frames. I’m not a technical person at all but I can see that Bin Roye borders on tele-film, which may be a problem. That may also be because the makers plan to release it in drama format too; that’s a perplexing decision.

Humayun Saeed looks too old to be Mahira’s hero but then the storyline justifies that. According to reports (I have not read the book): Humayun is married to Armeena Khan, Mahira’s elder sister, who dies and so Mahira is coerced to step into her shoes. It is a tried and tested Bollywood formula and we know that eventually Mahira will fall in love with her husband, no matter what. (My readers have pointed out that this is not the story so I am just hoping that it’ll have unexpected twists and turns). Nevertheless, I just can’t help thinking how irresistible this film would have been with the original casting choice – Fawad Khan – in the lead role. He had to be replaced because of endless delays and Fawad’s other commitments. Anyway, bygones.

I’m just relieved that we finally have a couple of films – Bin Roye included – that have colour, music, song and dance, romance and the usual things that make films entertaining. Enough of war drama, socially responsible films and those focusing on the under-belly of Pakistan. There is song and dance in Bin Roye but as a colleague at Instep pointed out: “the trailer looks like a Tarang ad!”

Do you agree?

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#Throwback: Hrithik Roshan interview

It was the October of 2009 and I had just gotten my visa for Mumbai, a trip that had the HDIL Couture Week and an exclusive interview with Hrithik Roshan on the cards. Excitement would be an understatement. My first impression of Hrithik: he stood tall, a good head and shoulders above everyone else and he looked better in person than he did on screen. He was thinner, perhaps because he was preparing for his role in Guzaarish and was working on losing his muscle before putting on some natural weight that a paraplegic would have.



The interview came as result of a delicious controversy (aren’t they all?) but it was all worth it because I made a friend who helped give me all this fabulous access, which in turn enriched my experience as a journalist. I met Hrithik at his multi-storey home in Mumbai, during Diwalli celebrations, which explains the garlands outside his house. His parents lived on one floor, he and his family on another and the third floor, to my understanding, was his gym.

Roshan House

Roshan House

The most interesting thing I observed while waiting for him: two young lads were camped outside his compound and were playing (live) a shehnai to the tune of ‘Kaho Na Pyar Hai‘ on repeat. “Does the noise annoy you or overwhelm you?” I remember asking him, to which he replied: “How can I be annoyed by all this love?” Hrithik could  get very philosophical and I remember chatting about my critics, who pulled me down from time to time. He replied, which I’ll never forget: “If someone says Aamna has one leg would you stop and take offence? You wouldn’t, because it’s not true. You should ignore all unfair criticism with the same nonchalance.”

At Hrithik's home

At Hrithik’s home

You can read the full interview here:


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TFPW: Day 3

Apologies for my tardiness; I needed a day to resuscitate and absorb the fashion before I settled down to analyzing it. 

Body Focus Museum by Iman Ahmed

Body Focus at its very best

Body Focus at its very best

That leathered fringe is stuff dreams are made of.

That leathered fringe is stuff dreams are made of.

Truth be told, when it comes to visual imprint, Day 3 began and ended with Body Focus Museum. Iman Ahmed is a sensitive, intelligent designer who is rarely seen anywhere and when she is scheduled to showcase (which is never more than once a year) I know that she must be tucked away in her studio with ‘Do Not Disturb’ instructions on her door. She sits, sketches and creates. And what she creates is magic. She is a perfectionist; I remember visiting her to photograph a brilliant collection that was up on the racks; she took ten minutes perfecting the fall of the trouser on the mannequin. I can only imagine how much intrinsic detailing must have gone into putting this collection out.

The brilliance of this designer is that her creations are never commonplace and yet she manages to make them impressive even on a commercial level. If you visit the BFM (Body Focus Museum) after two months you’ll see this collection and wearable versions of it on the racks, available to the discerning fashion lover. I wouldn’t even dare to call someone who had the taste to wear Body Focus a ‘fashionista’.


Wasim Akram made an appearance for Levi's.

Wasim Akram made an appearance for Levi’s.

This was a smart way of putting some distance between Iman’s brilliance and the next designer, because it would have been unfair to expect anyone to follow her New Nomads. Levi’s was good old-fashioned street wear, brought in for what I would assume are commercial reasons. High street brands pay a lot more to participate in Fashion Week and that’s why you’ll see so many of them on the lineup. I still don’t think it’s a good idea because they show utilitarian clothing that has nothing to do with fashion. FPC has to come up with an alternate strategy. That said Wasim Akram’s guest appearance did tickle peoples’ fancy.

Somal Halepoto

What started with a promise of some fresh and candy coloured animal prints soon transformed into a melted box of Quality Street candy wrappers. That really is all I can say.

Somal Halepoto's elephant-print silk harem pants were fine...

Somal Halepoto’s elephant-print silk harem pants were fine…

But then the collection collapsed into a mess of candy wrappers.

But then the collection collapsed into a mess of candy wrappers.

 YBQ: Yousuf Bashir Qureshi

Theatrics at their very best.

Theatrics at their very best.

People who hadn’t seen his work before were either confused or overwhelmed by the dramatics and that precisely is the reason why and how YBQ is relevant to fashion. He throws up the exact kind of oomph and drama that is needed every now and then. His garments have a select clientele, the few women who know where the Artist’s Commune is and will brave the trip in the name of fashion love him; for everyone else, he’s just a great showman who pops up on the scene every now and then and impresses with his theatrics. I feel that is essential for fashion; you should have seen the foreign press going gaga over all that Sufi-seeped redness. There’s a reason why I called him Fashion’s Feudal Lord when I interviewed him back in the day!

Wardha Saleem

That embellished cape was beautiful.

That embellished cape was beautiful.

Wardha toned down her usually kaleidoscopic palette and mellowed it into a blend of beautiful pink and blue pastels. Inspired by the serene lotus flower and embracing summer in its softness, this was a very pretty collection. The intricate workmanship was also perfect; delicate and detailed. That said, the silhouette offered nothing new and appeared too similar to what Wardha has always shown: the well constructed cape, the straight tunic, sari, the embellished trousers etc. The collection let down in terms of innovative silhouettes.

Sania Maskatiya for Al-Karam

Sania Maskatiya for Al-Karam, there is a case in point here for other textile brands.

Sania Maskatiya for Al-Karam, there is a case in point here for other textile brands.

What happens when one of the country’s strongest print makers collaborates with one of the country’s textile giants? The result has to be spectacular as Sania Maskatiya’s collection for Al-Karam was. Having seen the collection up close at a press preview, I already knew the potential it had in terms of being an impressive lawn collection but that Sania would manage to make it work so effectively on the catwalk was a stretch. But she did. It was lawn but it was fashion. Many designers have attempted this before but other than Vinny’s debut collection of V Lawn (at the Commune several years ago) I haven’t seen lawn take such an innovative avatar.


The opening piece was one of the strongest in the Inaaya collection.

The opening piece was one of the strongest in the Inaaya collection.

Naushaba Brohi made a spectacular debut last year and while she did not show an Autumn/Winter line, this, her second collection, did not disappoint. The problem with craft-based collections is that their patterns usually suffer but the first half of Brohi’s collection revealed some interesting ways of incorporating rilli work in contemporary clothing. A short jacket, a tunic lined with contrasting patchwork, a silk shrug in mute tones of beige…it was all good until a dress that featured fish tail scallops in the hemline. The collection took a dip from there on.


I couldn’t focus on this collection as properly as I would have liked to; Instep pages had to be transferred at 10:15 and this I was multitasking but whatever I glanced at was crisp, sharp and smart. So good to see menswear that is well tailored and sexy/wearable as opposed to the costumes that most wannabe newbies think they can get away with.

Smart and sexy, HSY is always the star!

Smart and sexy, HSY is always the star!

Photographs by Tapu Javeri

– Expect the last day reviews by tomorrow






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TFPW SS2015: Day 2.2

Continued from last night’s post…

Zaheer Abbas

That shrug cape by Zaheer Abbas is beautiful.

That shrug by Zaheer Abbas is beautiful.

Zaheer Abbas

Zaheer Abbas

I must say I was pleasantly surprised by what Zaheer Abbas put out. As I tweeted, there’s never been a doubt as to what he can drape and design but Zaheer Abbas often designs in a vacuum, with no link to retail in Pakistan. I mean, what’s the use of putting out beautiful clothes if you’re not impacting market trends. If you have the potential to design then push your designs into production and help influence trends. Back to the collection, it was easy on the eyes and impressive. There was an ethereal, Garden of Eden feel that made it almost heavenly. Now, will it stay in the heavens or will it come down to earth?

Gul Ahmed

The very opposite of Zaheer Abbas’ inaccessibility is Gul Ahmed’s massive outreach; surprisingly the textile giant exchanged its usual love for colour and print in favour of summery whites. There were some simple, effective elements in the collection; it would be great if the voluminous white dhoti shalwar, for example, were made widely available through summer. Similarly, white lightweight silk/chiffon tunics with matte gold embellishment would work so well. It was the jarring, odd ones out that threw the collection of: a baby doll dress, an obsolete anarkali embellished in huge paisleys and the finale piece, which was cumbersome. Gul Ahmed still needs design balance but is at least making an effort in getting there.

Gul Ahmed

Gul Ahmed

It made no sense for Caanchi and Lugari to show at fashion week; it is a brand that stocks international brands in Pakistan. To have Caanchi and Lugari at fashion week is like sending Laraib to a film or music festival.

I don’t want to say anything about Abdul Samad without talking to the man, which I want to do today. Does he feel he can influence (normal) men to wear the outrageous costumes he showed? Does he design for fun, for providing some gimmickry to fashion week and most importantly, does he sell? Because if he can sell what he showed then perhaps there’s something that I am not seeing. I want to be fair.

Fahad Hussayn

What would a Fahad Hussayn video be without a disturbing artistic Maram Aabroo video, some disturbance danger lurking in the shadows and dead birds or the entire birdcage in the hair? It wouldn’t be. And yet shining through the designer’s obsession with melancholic drama is beautiful craft. It may not have been new or innovative but Fahad Hussayn’s collection definitely was master-crafted and gorgeous to look at.

Fahad Hussayn

Fahad Hussayn’s dark side

Fahad Hussayn's bright side

Fahad Hussayn’s bright side

Photographs by Tapu Javeri

Hair and makeup by N Pro





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TFPW SS2015: Day 2

No beating around the bush or sugar coating, I have to say it like I saw it. The second day at TFPW was not great. If we were looking for some missing oomph yesterday, then all efforts were completely brushed under the rug today. At one point the collections had become so mundane that Abdul Samad’s runway gimmickry brought a moment of (misguided) thrill. As least it was entertaining.

Unfortunately I do not love fashion week for its entertainment value but for its fashion forwardness, for the new and unexpected trends it promises to offer, for the mental notes it pushes one to make on what trends to adapt and what to wear. Fashion Week, so far, has not managed to elicit too many shrieks of excitement.

Amir Adnan opened the day with a collection dedicated to grooms. Thankfully there were no turbans or tried and tested groom’s wear formulas rather very well-constructed, mature garments. I may have found the use of brocade and jamevar a little overwhelming but the two-tiered kurtas, the layers and texturing and the bejeweled accents were interesting. I loved the richness of the gem tie.

Amir Adnan proved why he is master of his game.

Amir Adnan proved why he is master of his game.

Sanam Chaudhri followed with a luxury collection clearly created as luxury pret/ formal wear. While there were some immediate winners in the collection – the cutwork fabric, the wraparound trousers and the contrasting colours and fabrics that created an interesting 3D effect – it somehow did not impress as a whole. There were displaced elements like the tasseled belts that were more curtain tie backs. The palette wasn’t too exciting either. I miss the days when Sanam did that stunning Japanese collection in vivid red and blue. I hope she returns to cutting edge casual clothing soon.

Sanam clearly knows how to combine the elements of design but she missed a step every now and then.

Sanam clearly knows how to combine the elements of design but she missed a step every now and then.

Speaking of vivid, Jafferjees’ collection for Spring/Summer was absolutely stunning. It went dotty and fringy in its tone and ran with the idea of sporty and fun instead of classic and restrained. Jafferjees is a great example of how a high street accessory brand can place itself at fashion week and make a great impression.

Who would have thought that JafferJees would create the wow factor of the evening.

Who would have thought that JafferJees would create the wow factor of the evening.

Sadly, the Canchi and Lugari and Gul Ahmed shows made no such impression. More on that as well as thoughts on Abdul Samad, the verdict on whites i.e. Zaheer Abbas and why Fahad Hussayn is obsessed with dominatrices and must have a dead bird in his show.

Watch this space for updates tomorrow morning…

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Telenor Fashion Pakistan Week S/S2015: Day One

Oomph. Zing. The Wow Factor.

All that was missing in the collections shown at Day 1 of the Telenor Fashion Pakistan Week SS2015 but let’s not start on a negative note. There were positives of the evening that cannot be ignored.

How absolutely cool it was for fashion week to begin and end at a decent hour. At 10pm Mariam, Mehreen (my colleagues at Instep) and I were seated at the Noodle House, filing the daily story for Instep, which will be in print tomorrow morning. The fabulous timing made it possible for us to at least mention every collection and grab a meal after the show too. So proud of the council, Latitude and whoever it took to ensure this punctuality. I hope some of the discipline will rub off on the PFDC, which is infamous for burning our midnight oil.

So the footnotes at TFPW were all good. The vibe was good and the red carpet aura was young and fresh. The white runway looked fabulous and the front rows were smart. The footnotes were all good, but unfortunately the content was a little underwhelming. Don’t get me wrong; it wasn’t unforgivably garish or ugly (at least most of it wasn’t) but it just wasn’t exciting enough. Predictable and forgettable is what I’d sum the day up as.

Sania Maskatiya, the strongest link

Sania Maskatiya's ode to the unsung heroes of garment wizardry - The Tailors.

Sania Maskatiya’s ode to the unsung heroes of garment wizardry – The Tailors. Photo: Manal Khan

As flamboyant and colourful as ever, Sania tapped into a cheerful summer spirit with Khayat – The Tailor, dedicated to the master craftsmen that often stay behind the scenes. Splashes of colour, spools of colourful thread and new silhouettes created a kaleidoscope of prints that will undoubtedly be celebrated through the season. The silhouettes may have tethered towards safe had it not been for a couple of experimental shapes, the strangest being the high backs, which at times looked odd but in one or two instances were…kick ass!

Nida Azwer goes 3D

Nida had some interesting, fresh techniques in her collection. Photo:iPhone

Nida had some interesting, fresh techniques in her collection. Photo:iPhone

French Trellis came in shades of beige, grey and punches of black. What was interesting about this collection was the delicate layering and the three-dimensional textured effects. It was essentially luxury pret for summer, summer weddings included, and that is Nida’s forte. What I loved were the all time favourite capes and the one short, cropped bolero that was quite striking.

Sadaf Malaterre’s déjà vu

Sadaf Malaterre, so  pretty but just as predictable.

Sadaf Malaterre, so pretty but just as predictable. Photo: iPhone

Sadaf Malaterre was strong on finish and sophistication; she does Boho chic so well. But again, from the crushed silhouettes to the tasseled dresses, from the palette to the delicate crystal sparkles, the collection was too predictable to excite. It made an impression in the absence of too many statements this evening. I bet that this collection would have impressed anyone seeing a Sadaf Malaterre show for the first time but for us, it was all too much déjà vu.

Madiha Raza must find her wings

Maheen Khan walked out in support of Madiha Raza who showed spark but was expected to fly higher.

Maheen Khan walked out in support of Madiha Raza who showed spark but was expected to fly higher. Photo: iPhone

I have been her biggest fan since this young textile graduate showed and won at the Millennial Show last year. She won a slot to show amongst the big names at this fashion week and the good thing is that she actually looked better than many veteran designers on the TFPW lineup. Her accessories had a winning streak and her colour palette was spring, summer and balanced. The intricate cut-outs that connected each outfit to the other were interesting elements. What the collection lacked, however, was structural finesse and innovation. It’s surprising because her last collection had it. Second showings are difficult, especially if one has to follow up a great collection so I can’t blame the young girl for getting overwhelmed. I only hope she can find her wings and fly higher with her ideas next season.

In retrospect, Day One looked like a flurry of nightwear. Aspired by a summery, Bohemian/Coachella spirit, I feel too many designers had indulged in long and breezy maxi dresses that turned out looking more like nightwear.

Lala Textiles' take on summer.

Lala Textiles’ take on summer. Photo: Manal Khan

Lala Textiles put their summer fabrics on display. Fortunately they avoided the paneled kurtas that must now die out; unfortunately it is very difficult to make lawn look exciting. FnkAsia strangely ditched their strength – which is traditional craft – to show a white and solid colour palette. The stand out was the one jacket Nadia Ali wore at the very end. The rest, very forgettable.

The strongest element in the FnkAsia collection was the embroidered jacket, that came right at the end.

The strongest element in the FnkAsia collection was the embroidered jacket, that came right at the end. Photo: iPhone

The Bank Alfalah Rising Talent show was the toughest to judge because it was too much graduate collection costume and too little garment. The purpose of slotting these young designers in a mainstream fashion week is to show their potential in transitioning from student to professional designer. These students were clearly not ready. They did manage to showcase their craft but not their vision for garments.

This young designer made a statement with her harnesses but it was unclear whether she it was a social or Fifty Shades of Grey one.

This young designer made a statement with her harnesses but it was unclear whether she it was a social or Fifty Shades of Grey one. Photo: Manal Khan

That wraps up Day One. There is gossip from behind the scenes, the most buzz being around ‘A New Model’ who came with “big lips” (overheard) and a political parchi. Talking of political parchis, Ayyan, of course, was missed. People continued to fight over front row seats, the second row being a fate worse than Central Jail.

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Paid content and the ethics of blogging in Pakistan

I’ve been offered money to write an article exactly 3 times in my 15 years as a fashion journalist. Let me rephrase that. In my years as a journalist, a total of 3 designers/brands have offered to pay me hefty money for writing and publishing an article about them. The compensation has varied from 60K to 1.2 million. As difficult as it was to say no (since I was making peanuts as a freelance journalist) I refused all three times. The ethics of journalism were very clear; accepting money and writing ‘paid content’ was equivalent to taking a bribe; it was professional suicide.

Unfortunately blogging trends in Pakistan have blurred the lines very effectively. It’s become acceptable to get paid for posting content, and both bloggers and brands are responsible for this landslide of ethics. Brands (most of them designers) are more than happy to pay up to 15,000 (the rate is much higher for lawn) for a review (one post), which needless to say is promotional if not necessarily and blatantly favourable. For brands it is easy advertising, as bloggers are prolific, tech savvy and the good ones have hundreds of thousands of followers. But what does that say about the blogs?

As far as I have read and learnt, the ethics of blogging are very similar to the ethics of journalism however, journalists are regulated by editorial boards whereas bloggers have no checks or balances, especially in Pakistan. The problem arises when they don’t have the better sense of judgement.

I’m only discussing fashion and lifestyle blogs here. Imagine the gravity of the situation if medical blogs, for example, started charging for promoting any (credible or shady) pharmaceutical company that was willing to pay. Generating awareness of new and misleading drugs could prove fatal for the blog’s followers because blogs, like published articles, are ideally meant to inform, entertain and educate the reader. Comparing a medical blog to a fashion blog is of course comparing apples to oranges but the principle stays the same.

I understand the importance of blogs and e-magazines in this day and age; most of the educated population is on the Internet all day and reads almost everything online. The kind of eyeballs blogs get, almost instantly, is an information revolution. It’s fantastic, which is why I decided to maintain a blog several years ago. I have neither the massive following nor the discipline that most dedicated bloggers have (as I have a full time job at a newspaper) but I’m very pleased that I have a decent number of subscribers and readers all over the world. Most importantly, with journalist training in my veins, I am proud to say I have never charged for publishing content. Even if I start accepting advertisements on my page tomorrow (which is clearly allowed), there will never be room for paid content.

I would urge both bloggers and brands in Pakistan to reconsider their practices. A blogger instantly loses credibility when paid content is posted, instagrammed and tweeted. Even if the post states ‘Sponsored’ on the blog (it usually doesn’t), there is no clarification on Twitter or Instagram. It misleads the reader into thinking that the post is worthy of his time and effort even if it may not be. Similarly, brands looking for short cuts to promotion should control their whims for instant visibility and do things the right way. Paid content will never make them credible.

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