Pakistan International Screen Awards will be 'unforgettable' show

Dubai - Faisal Khan, founder of the event, on what audiences can expect from this year’s edition in Dubai.


Enid Grace Parker

Published: Mon 20 Sep 2021, 4:46 PM

The second edition of the Pakistan International Screen Awards which honours Pakistani artists from various fields in entertainment including music, television and fashion, will take place in Dubai at Madinat Jumeirah on November 5, 2021. Excitement is building for the event with the list of nominees already out for 24 categories of awards including the new addition of social media influencers. Film categories have been shelved this year as the industry was affected by the pandemic.

Faisal Khan with actor Adnan Siddiqui at PISA 2020.
Faisal Khan with actor Adnan Siddiqui at PISA 2020.

Winners across all categories will be decided by online voting, with an exception of the PISA Special Awards and the categories specified as Jury Awards.

The first PISA, held in February 2020, was a hit with popular artists from Pakistan including veteran actor Jawed Sheikh, renowned television star Adnan Siddiqui, and musician Ali Zafar and more attending.

Faisal Khan, CEO Mesmerize Events and founder of the Pakistan International Screen Awards, spoke to City Times about the challenges and rewards of organising a large-scale event during the pandemic and bringing the best of Pakistani entertainment to Dubai for one special evening.

The first PISA held in Dubai in February 2020 saw a host of popular Pakistani stars from film, television and other entertainment industries attend and perform. What can fans expect from the second event to be held in Dubai in November?

The 2nd PISA, which we hope will be an annual event, is scheduled to take place in Dubai on November 5, and it’s going to be a bigger and grander show than last year. Despite the fact that cinemas were shut down due to the Covid-19 pandemic and therefore we have no films to celebrate for 2020, it was a big year for television as well as digital content, which became the natural outlet for artists. Music is a huge part of Pakistan’s pop culture and we saw all genres of musicians release music online, even if concerts were on hold. And the same goes for fashion. Some of South Asia’s biggest names from entertainment, music and fashion come from Pakistan and fans can expect them all to be there for the show!

The process of organising an event during the pandemic is a challenging task - what were some of the main points you kept in mind while doing so?

The logistics of organising an event in Covid times is indeed a challenge, but we have waited for clearance from the government and the show SOPs will follow all rules and regulations. We have started approaching our nominees, presenters and performers to ensure they are vaccinated and apply for visas in time so that there is no last minute complication.

This year’s nominees are from the television and social media fields as film production was affected due to Covid. Are you happy to promote the growth of social media artists and influencers through PISA?

While artists from film and television have huge fanfare, it is impossible to ignore the mass following that digital content creators have. I think the categories in Digital Content are actually five of the most exciting and that’s both reinforced and reflected in the kind of traffic and hype the nominees are already building. We’re delighted to include the social media influencers at PISA.

Who are some of the big names expected to attend and perform this year?

We have a great lineup of stars this year. You can expect to see Humayun Saeed and Mehwish Hayat, cinema’s most successful onscreen pair, we have Sheheryar Munawar and Umair Jaswal, Sana Javed. And we have confirmations from all the nominees so anyone nominated can be expected to be there! I know that Bilal Abbas Khan and Yumna Zaidi fans will have a lot to look forward to.

Why did you choose Dubai as the venue for the second PISA?

Pakistan’s fashion and entertainment stars have a huge global following and ideally we wanted to take PISA around the world, especially where there’s a South Asian diaspora that follows Pakistani dramas. Unfortunately, because of the pandemic, it was not advisable for us to get adventurous this year. Constantly changing travel advisories have made the situation very unpredictable, which is why we felt it would be safer and more convenient to have PISA’21 on home-ground, in Dubai. We do, however, have big plans for next year.

The Pakistani community in the UAE is huge and the opportunity to see stars from the industry in a live event is a much-awaited one. What would you like to tell them about PISA?

Fans from the Pakistani community in Dubai were one of the strongest parts of our first event, last year. Their enthusiasm made the show ever more interactive and exciting and this year will be no different. These are fans who watch Pakistani TV and films, they they buy the music; they stay connected with their roots through the artists and a show like this brings them home for an evening. It is both emotional and exhilarating. I don’t want to reveal too much but they will get to see their favourite stars on the red carpet as well as at the show. Right from the point where Pakistan’s National Anthem plays live at the venue, to the grand finale, I can promise it will be an unforgettable evening.

More news from Entertainment