What is power? Who has it? How can you tell? These are questions that have no easy answers. Ask an assertive journalist, and you’ll hear a vehement dismissal of all glamour types and the list of powerful people whittling down to a stodgy industry bigwigs. Ask a starry-eyed showbiz fanatic and you’ll hear a bubbly eulogy for all the hot starlets who in reality would not even have the clout to wangle a solo project. So the dilemma remains.
The solution, as it lit up the bulbs in the minds of us Diva staffers, was to try to strike a balance between the views of the realist and the idolater. Hence, what we did was divide our entertainment industry into its constituent categories (models, actors, singers, etc.) and then cull from among the available pool those individuals who hold sway in their respective fields. So you will see Abdullah ranked alongside Hameed Haroon, not because the male model has the same clout as the publishing magnate, but because each is the most important and influential member of his own category.
Here is a rundown of the 50 most powerful people in our entertainment industry. Why are they powerful? Because…
1. Vaneeza Ahmed
Because, like another modeling legend of yore, Vinny too doesn’t budge for less than a grand sum of money. Because despite her unrelenting fee structure, she spends more time in the air jetting from assignment to assignment than on the ground. Because on every project, she’s decided on first, and then the rest of the team. Because her employers wait to hear who she recommends. Because her recommendation can make a career.
2. Zainab Qayyum
Because she snatched the LSA blessing out of nowhere at the last awards ceremony and shocked the sure-shot winners. Because she went on to nab all the shoots and campaigns that mattered and shocked all those who cried foul. Because, possessing the beauty of a blonde and the brains of a brunette, she shocks everyone. Because everybody loves her.
Because she managed to survive the ill-conceived scissor-stab at Evangelista-esque immortality with relatively few nicks and bruises. Because she not only survived, but contrary to all expectations, thrived-finding herself on more covers after the mane-shear than before it. Because she takes to the ramp like a twister that would occur over water. Because if there is such a thing as a supermodel blue-blood, then she is it. Because she is, after all, Iraj.
4. Aaminah Haq
Because her face is beautiful enough to inspire the best poets to compose the most lilting of sonnets. Because it has already inspired many journalists to compose the most compelling of prose. Because by becoming the face of an unknown casual wear brand, AB?D, she turned it into a popular commodity. Because then, by becoming the brains of its marketing, she turned it into an upmarket label. Because with her departure, the labels in limbo. Because with her reentry, fashion is in ecstasy.
5. Amina Shafaat
Because every brand either has used her, is using her, or is considering using her for its campaign. Because her admission [and then practice] of modesty turned her into the unofficial model-of-the-people. Because designer would rather alter their creations than lose the sleeveless-shy siren. Because her status has been elevated to top fashion model despite her shunning fashion shows. Because despite that status, she’s easygoing enough to work with almost anyone who can hold a camera or a makeup brush. Because her fan club [go to the www.orkut.com ] is the largest of any Pakistani model, and on it, her legions of devotees pontificate on such earth-shaking issues as whether her innocence is more appealing on her beauty. Because in actuality, her perfection lies in the combination.
6. Iman Ali
Because she sashays hip-thrust to hip-thrust with the super-est of the supermodels despite allowing only(two-in-)one set of hands to paint her and eyes to portray her (Ather Shehzad). Because she’s the only fashion faction partisan to exercise her mouthed-but-condemned right to defect (which she did recently with Abid Saleem and SABS Salon) without jeopardizing her card-carrying status. Because, instead of moulding her signature look of the classically beautiful seductress according to the demands of the work, she transforms the work to complement her.
Because he can look like foreigner without arousing the concomitant feeling of dissociation in the observer. Because what he can arouse is innocent affection and throbbing lust all at the same time. Because this unlikely mixture has made him the darling of magazine editors, who look for excuses to include Abdullah in their magazines. Because even brand names ask for Abdullah by name. Because he can turn down assignment that for other models are too grand to even bother aspiring to. Because through it all, he remains so humble that you’d think it weren’t happening to him, but someone else.
8. Neha Ahmed
Because she single-handedly challenged an entire fashion industry to question its prejudiced view of beauty. Because in a world where even India flaunts its unconventional collection of supermodels, ours is by far the industry most strangulated by stereotypes and even our industry, after seeing how Neha transformed limp dishrags into fire-breathing showstoppers with her Gisele-ian physique, started propping her up everywhere, from shoots to shows to videos. Because no matter how many slurs you throw her way, you cannot deny that she is the newest sensation of fashion.
9. Ather Shehzad
Because the Ather Shehzad lens and makeup case are like magic wands that can transform even a neglected wallflower into a prince-snaring Cinderella. Because any female model, fashion designer, or fashion magazine can only really gain credibility if those wands sprinkle their pixie dust on them. Because they lord over the click-clique that counts as its members the princesses that reign over fashion modeling.
10. Khawar Riaz
Because he can bestow the gift of life to an as –yet unborn stardom hopeful. Because his creation is so magnificent that in some religions he could actually be deified and worshipped. Because his discoveries already do revere him. Because as a scout, he has a keen eye for potential. Because as a photographer, he has a powerful vision for his image. Because as a godfather, he has an all-embracing career plan for his ward. Because he is Khawar Riaz.
Hair & Makeup Artists
Because she has transcended mere styling artist and become a styling phenomenon. Because when two of the country’s biggest models (Iraj and Tanya) decided to take a step that everyone thought would wreck havoc with their careers, they put themselves in Nabila’s capable hands. Because under Nabila’s meticulous care, the only things wrecked were the model’s staid old hairstyles, which led to the opening up of an entirely new demand for the two. Because Nabila can cause havoc with her caustic comments.
12. Tariq Amin
Because he’s the ultimate image-maker-just ask Ali Zafar. Because he’s the ultimate image enhancer-just ask any model. Because he’s the ultimate image wrecker-just ask Umar Sayeed.
Because with Strings’ Dhaani, he showed a side of the otherworldly matriarchal society that conveyed the subtlety and delicacy with which he approaches his craft. Because with Ali Zafar’s Chal Dil Meray he showed a side of the otherworldly rock star society that conveyed the wit and exuberance with which he approaches his craft. Because of the many ads that displays his mastery over his craft.
14. Asad Ul Haq
Because his expert direction was able to extract the classical fairy tale beauty from the hip but earthy Ayesha Toor (in the ad for Don Carlos). Because his dexterous maneuvering was able to portray a catchy tea ditty as a charming ode to traditional family values (in the video for Supreme’s Yehi to hai Apna pan, sung by Jawad Ahmed). Because his clever visuals are always a treat to behold.
15 Saqib Malik
Because it was through his videos that the polish Fuzon had acquired started to shine even brighter. Because it was through his video that the tarnish Shaan was beginning to acquire was wiped clean. Because it was through his videos that we got our first taste of Indian superstars Urmila Matondkar and Nandita Das on the local telly. Because it was through his videos that the world got to experience the powerful vision of Saqib Malik.
16. Asim Raza
Because he is the one who heralded the video-director-as-moving-image-artist revolution in the country. Because his latest venture, Fakhir’s Mahi Ve, in which he faithfully re-imagines the ambience of the Oscar-winning movie Chicago, is further proof of his mastery of the moving image. Because he has directed so many commercials that if he were given even one free sample of all products he’s helped push (from Lux to Lipton), he could open a nationwide chain of supermarkets.
17. Amir Adnan
Because while other designers were busy stitching for starlets, he went and dressed heads of state. Because while other designer were getting their fashion shoots published in magazines, he went and published his own catalogue-cum-lifestyle magazine. Because while other designers were thinking of expanding in the local market, he went and expanded all the way to Dubai.
18. Sana Safinaz
Because unlike most other designers, they know that coming up wit a new collection means more than just replacing embroidered roses in the neck with embroidered made sure that we could hold our heads high alongside the Indians at the Carnival de Couture. Because after the stardust of the Indian mystique had settle, we realized Sana Safinaz were actually a head higher. Because they set trends not simply in public dressing, but also in their contemporaries’ designing.
19. Umar Sayeed
Because in his designs there is beauty, romance, and magic. Because super models like Vaneeza and Iman who uplifts other designer’s images do his shoots to uplift their image. Because they do it for free. Because they proudly admit it. Because seeing his designs fills one with hope and wonder. Because when people drop his name you know they have a deep love for fashion. Because in his design “stars look like stars”. Because he could possibly be the king of bridal wear. Because he doesn’t design clothes, he designs dreams.
20. Nilofer Shahid
Because her collections are more intricately researched than many Ph.D. thesis. Because her clothes are more intricately detailed than many masterpiece frescos. Because a mega-project such as the fashion council could not even hope to take off without her patronage. Because a mega-event such as Bridal Asia took off with a zoom with her participation.
21. Rizwan Beyg
Because in the lexicon of the infant public, the name “Rizwan Beyg” entered first and then the term “fashion industry”. Because during the adolescent growing years, Riz2wan Beyg’s confection were delicious enough too tingle even Princess Diana’s style tooth. Because now the Rizwan Beyg label has matured to a appoint where its aura is pervasive enough to pull anyone into its spell, regardless of the actual clothes.
22. Deepak Perwani
Because he’s the hippest westernwear designer who actually sells. Because he sells not just here, but everywhere (Kuala Lumpur, China, Dubai, and New York.) Because he has only recently crossed 30 and yet he seems to have been on the Pakistan fashion scene forever. Because, like the industry, his designing style too is maturing.
23. Maheen Khan
Because in her you can find unique blend of style and grace. Because in her clothes you can find a unique blend of the classic with the contemporary. Because she has turned the apparent oxymoron of eastern minimalism’ into a reality. Because even Hollywood is infatuated with her skills.
24. Shamoon Sultan
Because with the coming of Khaadi, cuts took a backseat to cloth. Because he moved a body as distinguished as the Lux style awards committee to flout the rules at the very onset of the now yearly extravaganza and present him, a textile designer, the award for best fashion designer. Because he turned poor man’s fabric into rich woman’s fashion statement. Because everybody adorns Khaadi. Because everybody loves to love Khaadi.
25. Faisal Quraishi
Because he emerged as if out of nowhere to take Dawn’s images from a staid old Sunday obligation to a catchy chronicle of all things showbiz. Because he understands that the weekly entertainment section of the country’s most widely-read English newspaper should actually be entertaining! Because he has a clearly defined vision which he takes firm steps to have achieved. Because his sharp investigative reporting claws are ready to scratch at showbiz!
26. Amna Haider Isani
Because in a field as superficial and whimsical as fashion and showbiz, her style of journalism remains level – headed and hard-hitting. Because that has made her arguably the most credible writer in her field. Because her monthly column, After Eight, in images is eagerly anticipated and greedily devoured. Because even though she worked for ten years in Libas, her name alone now is enough to ensure that people will stop and listen.
27. Humayun Saeed
Because as a TV star, he can still win the hearts of star struck young girls. Because as an actor, he can also win the respect of hardened critics, because as a producer, his plays and serials continue to win wide audiences. Because as a TV influential, he won the collaboration of an Indian soap actress in the mega serial, Ana. Because he’s a winner all the way.
28. Sania Saeed
Because any TV program that she associates herself with suddenly gains in prestige. Because hers is such a powerful presence on screen that she overshadows the most glamorous of beauties. Because she can bring all the energy and spontaneity of her stage performances into her screen roles. Because she can not just act intelligent, but actually is.
29. Faisal Qureshi
Because with his orphan eyes, he’s able to evoke the most intense of emotions. Because with his cherubic face, he’s able to evoke the lightest of emotions. Because his evocative talents have made him a favourite of the small screen.
30. Javed Fazil
Because he is the squeaky drama maker with drama values, minus violence and sham. Because he could possibly be termed as Star Plus worst dream come true. Because bug stars, lavish premiers and Javed Fazil go hand in hand. Because he has his hand on the pulse of the audience. Because he is undoubtedly the best director of the tube.
31. Atiqa Odho
Because she needs to do little more than show up on the set to ensure that a show will be a hit. Because as the only glamour icon with a signature line of cosmetics, she’ll immortalize the legacy of her beauty-at least in lipstick! Because she’s not just a TV star she’s television royalty.
Because he is taken as a serious actor even though he regularly works in the sort of movies that make commercial Indian flicks look like Masterpiece Theater. Because movies are made just so producers can show him off on the big screen. Because he’s the petrol that drives the Lollywood jalopy and yet he projects the suave and urbane cool of a classic movie star.
Because having conquered Lollywood with her glamour on the screen, she’s now poised to rule it with her vision behind the camera. Because she can get entangled in the worst of starlet catfights and yet emerge the ever-cool queen. Because she was the first Lollywood star to make a place for herself in the infamous Cola Wars by becoming the spokeswoman for Pepsi. Because after all these years, she still has it!
34. Rashid Khawaja
Because he touches one film every four years and it turns into gold. Because he treats filmmaking as a business and not as a social cause or contribution to art. Because he makes no bones about it. Because he has a very effective distribution network. Because he is extremely professional and expects the same from others. Because his movie Salakihan have got him whistling, clipping and dancing in the aisles. Because he knows what sells.
35 . Zara Sheikh
Because like the lifelong smitten lover, the public still sees her as the original Jazz girl. Because now she, more than any other heroine, ensures a hit film. Because her name need only be mentioned in the same sentence as a movie for it to immediately swell to event-worthy proportions.
36. Ali Zafar
Because he looks like a teenybopper but sings like a seasoned vocalist. Because the extraordinary success of his debut single did not overshadow his proceeding releases, which just soared higher and higher. Because he’s not just multitalented, he actually excels in everything he does. Because he’s now giving Abrar-ul-Haq a run for his money.
37. Hadiqa Kiyani
Because despite the hefty injection of talented females singers in the local music market, she’s still touted as the biggest female pop star in the country. Because each of her singles rekindles the public’s infatuation with the satin-voiced diva. Because each of the accompanying videos restores the public’s faith in the power of musical images. Because she doesn’t need to release album upon album to convince people that she can sing.
Because it seemed they couldn’t do anything to top Durr, but they did. Because it seemed no band could make intelligent and sober music popular, but they did. Because it seemed no band could top Junoon in international acclaim, but they did.
39. Jal/Atif Aslam
Because they encountered record store-clearing success even though they were just a bunch of jam session enthusiasts. Because their split generated more speculation than even Junoon’s. Because both the two Jal offshoots sell like hotcakes despite nearly imperceptible differences. Because people who never listened to Pakistani pop listen to them.
Because if there is one singer who can make the masses groove, it’s Abrar-ul-Haq. Because anyone, no matter how famous on his/her own, who works in one of his videos gets labeled “the one in the Abrar-ul-Haq video.” Because even low sales can not affect his popularity. Because with Abrar-ul-Haq there are never low sales.
Because they’ve been running on the steam of one album, and yet they’re adored by all. Because they make the sort by all. Because they make the sort of songs that only videos of epic proportions can do justice to. Because even from the candy commercial disaster they emerged with their musical integrity intact.
42. Frieha Altaf
Because as an event manager and choreographer, she’s associated with all the events that matter. Because as a socialite, she hobnobs with anyone who’s anyone. Because as a PR doyenne, she counts the likes of Shan as a client. Because as a friend, she commands the loyalties of some of the most powerful people in the industry.
43. Mian Yousaf Salahuddin
Because he’s a giant of showbiz even though he’s in no way related to the field. Because he’s revered as a godfather even through he’s not the head of any mafia. Because the parties he throws challenge the glamour and star quotient of the Vanity Fair Oscar Party. Because his patronage is eagerly sought even though he’s not a star-maker.
44. Hameed Haroon
Because he runs Haroon House, which controls the Dawn group of newspapers, among a whole bunch of other leading publications. Because he’s a great connoisseur and patron of art and culture – he has brought out photography books by Tapu Javeri, and most recently by the renowned Arif Mehmood. Because he’s on the Board of Governors of the Lux Style Awards, the most coveted of showbiz accolades.
45. Musharraf Hai
Because she’s the head of Unilever, the overarching multinational parent that controls a wide diversity of consumer goods. Because one of those brands is Lux. Because she made the Lux Style Awards and the Carnivale de Couture became a reality. Because Fortune magazine named her open of the 50 most powerful women outside the United States.
46. Mir Ibrahim Rehman
Because he is a young genius in the old mould. Because he is one of the Rehmans. Because Rehman rule the roost. Because Rehmans own Jang, the largest selling newspaper and some other significant publications. Because they own Geo as well. Because he is a man behind Geo. Because he is a vision behind Geo. Because with Geo he altered the media geography in Pakistan. Because in his guidance Geo has reached dazzling heights.
47. Ghazanfar Ali
Because he ushered in the second coming of the Indus Civilization-this time on TV, with his wildly popular channels, Indus Vision, Indus Music, and Indus News. Because his private television network is the largest an\d fastest growing. Because that’s almost entirely due to his innovative trendsetting abilities. Because their latest manifestations are the instituting of a music award (the IM Music Awards) and the alliance with MTV. Because there is lots more to come.
48. Tauqeer Muhajir
Because this print media influential has two of the biggest fashion and lifestyle monthly magazines under his domain (Fashion Collection and Diva). Because he has recently launched his pet project, a fortnightly financial magazine called Money, and that has already become the financial bible of all discerning businessman. Because he brings his sharp intellect into all his glossies. Because he has Diva.
49. Shoaib Mansoor
Because he is the best director we have. Because he has a knack to direct scenes in a manner that no director can. Because he has a great vision. Because you just can’t beat his vision. Because he uses a vast canvas and rich hues to paint it. Because artists are like putty in his hands, however wooden they just the way his project demands. Because he is a sure shot winner.
50. Sultana Siddiqui
Because she owns channel Hum, a true-blue entertainment channel. Because she also owns Momul Productions, the biggest telly production house. Because she is a director par excellence. Because she has predilection for making clean, simple, wholesome dramas. Because it’s a prestige for an artist to be a part of her venture. Because she knows how to play up with her pluses and downplays the minuses.