There has been a lot of furor and uproar following Mahira Khan’s award win for her film “Verna” at Lux Style Awards 2018. Many people have felt that this was an obvious snub to Mehwish Hayat who deserved a win for her performance in Punjab Nahin Jaungi.
Firstly, this is a popular choice award. People need to calm down with their criticism of it. It’s not exactly the Oscars. There is no jury. There is no group of learned, experienced, qualified intellectuals grouping artists and content on the basis of creativity, innovation and personal and emotional investment. These are POPULAR awards that get stars to win on the basis of the many fan bases stars have across the country and the world. Many people questioned how Mehwish Hayat’s performance was not worthy of an award. You should be harassing fans (though, please don’t) for these final wins.
Now, Mehwish is a wonderful actress, a lovely performer and I was absolutely stunned by her courageous performance in Actor In Law and then Punjab Nahi Jaungi. She is beautiful and talented and is on her way to achieve many great things in this industry, from the way things are going. But. Her first hits have come long after Mahira Khan’s fanbase had already grown up to have archives over archives about her. Mahira Khan also has a credible fan following from across the border, after her role in Bollywood opposite Shah Rukh Khan in the film Raees last year. I can vouch for this personally – people in UAE, which has a huge Indian/Pakistani population, may not know many Pakistani stars, but they will know Mahira Khan. This is the level of her stardom. Something that events as frothy as a popular award often, perhaps unfairly, becomes a measure of. That said, stardom cannot be denied. Just like you can’t deny what Shah Rukh Khan is to Bollywood, the sheer numbers he pulls just by virtue of doing what he does and being who he is. There is a similar, if not exactly same, kind of fandom that exists for Mahira Khan.
Secondly, the voting system is fairly transparent and before anyone goes into any lengthy conspiracy theories, I’ll stop you right there. If it’s that rigged, it should be reported to authorities and these days we have a very overactive judiciary, so I’m quite sure they’d be happy to take up this case to pass some suo motos if you make enough noise. Don’t just sit there and scowl. Get up. File a complaint. It’s important. You’d be doing a service to us all.
Thirdly, to me Mahira’s win this year is really important. Why? Because look at how far we’ve come. Mahira’s role in Verna was of a girl who fights against sexual abuse and fights back without apology. Look at what Mahira, the Khirad sweetheart from Humsafar, has come to now. This badass role with fiercely empowered strength and courage, where Mahira carries the film on her shoulders, resonated with an audience that has only seen Mahira as their resident good-girl heroine. This is an amazing success for Pakistan’s women. And no disrespect to Khalil ur Rehman Qamar, but Amal Dastur’s character goes back to fall in love with the guy who slapped her and almost justified cheating on her. That’s not a good image for girls. Mehwish Hayat did superb justice to Amal but the role was super problematic and eventually sent out the message that guys can get away with abuse if they mope around long enough and are passive aggressive enough.
Lastly, it’s a damn shame to pit women against each other in ugly, belittling ways. I am sure neither Mahira nor Mehwish hate each other nor do they compare themselves the way some people have decided to draw up categories where one woman is the ‘needlessly loved’ and the other is drawn up to be ‘victimized’. Both these categories are insulting to women and amazing performers such as Mahira and Mehwish.
Rant over. Go watch Black Panther.
*note – I made some chronological errors in the previous post about Mehwish’s earlier dramas. Reposting the status and also disappointed that I could not find any proper details of Mehwish’s list of work, wish her team would update her bio pages on various websites with more of her work, as I’d love to see some of her earlier dramas.