The Next Best Things

The next best things are not some secondary alternatives to the real things. These are the real things! They are the next generation of superstars. Perhaps the term “generation” would not be applicable here since the world of showbiz seems to lie in another dimension where time moves a lot quicker and a “generation” often passes in a matter of seconds. After all, as everyone knows, fame is fickle! Not so with this talented bunch. Though they might not be household names yet, each and member of this chosen elite has what it takes to make it in the big bad world of showbiz. Their staying power is exemplified by their accomplishments so far – accomplishments which might not have been vast in scale, but were definitely ample in quality. We predict great things for them, and don’t hesitate to tell you that they will soon graduate from being the next best things, to the best of the best.

Nooray came, made everyone’s heart skip a beat, and then vanished into thin air, leaving everyone thirsting for more. At least, that’s what it seemed like when, after her show stopping appearance – showing her resplendent in a riot of color, looking like a nymph bathing in a rainbow – on the launching cover of a glossy from Lahore, she disappeared from the scene. But with a beauty as dazzling as hers, fate couldn’t keep her away from the limelight for long. And now she’s back, to show the world that she’s no one-hit wonder. Nooray is steadily working her ay to the top and already has a handful of choice assignments under her belt (including shoots for Chen One). As the latest pretty-prodigy of Khawar Riaz, she definitely won’t be pulling any more disappearing acts!

Shaheryar Khan Niazi
Okay, we knew the Pakistan school of fashion design was god. But this good? We had no idea! First it was Kamiar Rokni who created ripples in the fashion industry even before he graduated. He eventually formed karma, probably the fastest-rising designer label in Pakistan ever. And now we have shaheryar khan niazi. Only in his fourth year, he has already created two labels: indulge and an eponymous Shaheryar Khan Niazi label. The latter line is whacky and whimsical (he cites John Galliano as an influence) while the former is practical and presentable (he also likes Nilofer Shahid a lot). Don’t worry, its just Shaheryar trying to express his overflowing personality through his work. Earlier, he did that exclusively through works, and had toyed with the idea of becoming a journalist. But fate had something else in store it intended to make him the biggest newsmaker himself. And so this young man went to PSFD to fulfill his destiny. And, we predict, to change the destiny of the local fashion industry!

Ali Anwar
Is there such a thing as perfect male beauty? Well, we thought there was, but that was before Khawar Riaz released Ali Anwar into the fashion world, to not only wreak havoc with our hearts, but also our definition of perfect handsomeness. This androgynous boy – with the luminescent skin and chiseled features of a Michelangelo sculpture brought to life – has made us forget the Ahmed Butts of yesteryear, and has us rethinking our vision of the ideal male. Ali Anwar transcends the image of the muscular macho man and incorporates a certain delicacy that is somehow much more alluring. Still in his teens, he has already managed to the do the impossible. No, we don’t mean the string of stunning shoots (for the likes of ABCD and Amina Yasmeen) but his campaign for Crossroads. On the billboard, Ali actually steals the limelight away from the perennial favorite, Farooq Mannan. Now that is perfection!

The latest trend is to reinvent your image. Madonna’s been doing it successfully for decades now, but our celebrities have recently jumped onto the self-reinvention bandwagon in a big way. There have been some drastic makeovers, such as the one from which Iraj emerged unrecognizable, and some subtle renovations, such as the one from which ZQ emerged without her bald man’s dome. But don’t get the impression that the men have been left out. Stars like Nomi Qamar, Faisal Kapadia and Bilal Maqsood have also changed their look recently. And while the ladies turned to Nabila, the male A-listers turned to Sajid. “Sajid? Who is Sajid?” you might ask. Well, you” be surprised to know that he is no new entrant into the field of beauty. He’s been a senior stylist at Nabila’s salon for the past seven years now, and it was just this past September that he finally decided to spread his wings and move into his own salon on Zamzama. Since then. He’s worked in a number of prestigious projects, such as commercials for Fair & Lovely and Peak Freans, and the music video of Fuzon’s Teray Bina, so if you want a new look, Sajid is the new name you should opt for!

J and SJ & S
It’s funny how some professions come to light only when some big celebrities attach themselves to them. For example, no one had ever heard of a professional wedding planner until J. Lo. went and portrayed one in her hit movie. Choreographers were only associated with dance until Hassan Sheharyar emerged as a big name in fashion choreography. And then there’s event management, a métier the inimitable Frieha Altaf almost turned into a subfield of fashion! But rest assured, she does not have a monopoly. With the likes of J&S3, that’s not even a possibility. J&S3 are Jalal Salahuddin and Omer Satti, and if anyone knows about parties and events, it’s these two! Though based in Lahore, this event management team has been so successful (what with clients such as levi’s and Crossroads lining up for their services) that they’ve recently set up operations in Karachi – and have been swamped with work ever since. Even multinationals such as Unilever and Pepsi have sought them out. J&S3 are so professional, they’ve almost turned that into a profession!

Vaneeza Ahmed
Have you ever noticed how similar Vaneeza Ahmed is to Genghis Khan? For one thing, when it comes to booty (or, in the case of the former, her payment), both are equally vicious warriors. And then there are the legendary conquests. After Genghis Khan conquered one domain, he simply moved on and conquered another. And that is precisely what our soldier of beauty is doing: after triumphing over the world of fashion, Vinny is poised to take over the mini-screen. She first got noticed in Jamal Shah’s Kal, and since then, she has worked with almost every big name you can think of, from Hasina Moin (Janay Anjanay) to Marina Khan (Tum hi to Ho). Skeptics argue that she’s only valued for her glamorous presence, but we beg to differ. Vaneeza has worked hard over the years and has greatly polished her technique. And now, we believe, she is going to be the next big thing in television. In fact, we wouldn’t be surprised if she went on to conquer the big screen as well. After all, she struck gold when she was cast as Quaid-e-Azam’s daughter, Dina, in Akbar Ahmed’s Jinnah, the movie adaptation of the Quaid’s life. But then, even Genghis Khan only attacked those targets, which he deemed worthy of his attention.

Babar Shiekh
People are always raving about how pop music in Pakistan has advanced by leaps and bounds. What is mentioned less often is how drastically the production of our music videos has improved. We no longer have to be subjected to stagnant shots of solitary singers standing in a pool of artificial smoke lip-synching their hearts out. Every other video coming out now is a work of art as creative, talented, and educated directors strive to outdo each other and grab our attention. Babar Sheikh is one such filmmaker who is trying to make his position among a distinguished company of music video directors. And he’s not doing bad at all. Having made his debut with Ali Haider’s Jadu, he has now established his versatility by excelling in a wide range of styles, from the independent and small-budgeted (Mizraab’s Insaari). To the corporate-backed and lavish (Faakhir’s Deewana). Others who have come knocking at his door include Sajjad Ali, Sharique Roomi, and Karavan. With a videography as diverse and a director as impressive as this, we’re sure that the only thing we’ll need artificial smoke for now is Nirma’s stage shows!

Imran Abbas
What is the difference between Imran Abbas and an ordinary pilot? Well, an ordinary pilot would probably obsess less about his hair! But then, we don’t mind if this trained aviation cadet is a bit too concerned about the unruly (according to him) mop on his head. The end result is always a gorgeous mane that we’d happily run our hands through any day! Of course, his locks – and looks! – aren’t the only lovely things about him. Imran Abbas is also a delight on the mini-screen. Only in his early twenties, he’s already a on the go, and has now started to get the sort of roles usually reserved for established actors, and is actually excelling in them. (Who can forget him as the stately Nawab Sultan in the ethereal Umrao Jan Ada!) But then we can’t expect anything less that perfection from this bright young artist, who, apart from flying and acting, is also a model, an architect (from NCA!), a singer, and a painter, (And you thought, Ali Zafar was multidimensional!) This flyboy is soaring high in more ways than one!

Gone are the days when a designer would demurely toil for years to establish a name for himself and his label. Fashion designers nowadays become instant celebrities. Case in point: Ammar Belal. Hardly a year into the business, and already he’s a major fashion star. But that’s not to say that he’s gotten where he is merely on the strength of his much-talked-about pairing with modeldom’s biggest diva, Aaminah Haq, or the patronage of loyal customers of his mother’s established Sarah’s brand. Ammar Bilal’s designer line is a fashion force in its own right. Pakistan’s answer to Banana Republic, ABCD is not just a set of T-shirts and shorts in random colours: it is a seasonal line of casuals based on a specific theme, and executed keeping the highest quality standards in mind. Some pieces even have the potential to become classics, like the fur-lined and much-buttoned denim jackets that defy you to not fall in love with them. ABCD will definitely not need to wait years to become a household brand.

Ocular means ‘relating to the eye.’ Strange name for a modeling agency. If it were something like Aesthetic (‘relating to beauty’), we’d understand. But what does the eye have to do with a modeling agency (except perhaps for the fact that models should have beautiful eyes? The answer to this question lies with beauty maven Khawar Riaz, for it is in his discerning eye that the seemingly ordinary or just passably pretty becomes the breathtakingly bewitching. With his list of discoveries and achievements (Umair Butt, Farooq Mannan, Vaneeza Ahmed, Zara Sheikh, etc., were all his) a roster of the who’s who of the modeling world, it was only a matter of time before he branched out into a full-fledged modeling agency. And that is precisely what he has done. Now, the process of star-making has become more organized, and new beauties (we feature two in this very section) have a formal platform from which to chart their careers. Ocular has the distinction of being the only modeling agency in the country that can actually be called one. Its members have bagged all the major campaigns – from Levi’s to Lever Brothers and everything in between. They say beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. In Khawar Riaz’s case, he’s able to map that ‘ocular’ beauty onto the real life person, and turn his models into superstars.

Nariman Ansari
What is it with showbiz families these days? As much as we’d like to point fingers at famous offspring for using nepotism to further their careers, the frustrating fact of the matter is, many of these scions are actually quite talented, and don’t really need any familial leverage – they’re making it big on their own. Nariman Ansari is one such precious darling who doesn’t need mommy dearest to pull strings for her in order to make people sit up and take notice of her work. She might be the daughter of local showbiz icon Bushra Ansari, but Nariman Ansari will do it her own way, thank you very much! Having graduated from Indus valley, she is now on her way to make a name for herself in the realm of photography ( which, incidentally, was only her minor), she has held a number of exhibitions of her work, including one in New Jersey, titled, Body, Perhaps her biggest coup was replacing photography legend Arif Mehmood in Newsline’s popular A day in the life of … fast gaining popularity. With their stars rising at such astronomical speed, don’t be surprised if soon the mother starts using the daughters as reference!

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