Sartorial world: Hum TV’s tricks of the trade

Published: April 7, 2013

Maliha Rehman is a fashion and lifestyle journalist with an obsessive, compulsive need to write. Log on for more fashion updates on Twitter @maliharehman.

KARACHI: 

Since its inception. Hum TV network has achieved quite a bit. A fashion week that has veritably become the gospel on wedding-wear for many a bride-to-be; a cooking channel that’s holding its own award show; a recent step into retailing ready-to-wear designs worn in dramas through a partnership with the Labels e-store and not to forget, Humsafar, the drama among many other riveting ones that became a phenomenal hit.

Then again, the network has its detractors as well. That’s where Shanaz Ramzi comes in.

Spin doctor

The network may be eight-years-old, but Ramzi has been working for it for nine years — before it was even launched. She has an answer for everything. For instance, ask Ramzi the criteria by which designers are selected for the network’s much touted Bridal Couture Week (BCW): Is the payment of a hefty participation fee by designers and stylists reason enough to allow lackluster work onto the catwalk, amongst other more admittedly fantastic collections? And why, in the first place, are stylists paying to be part of the show when at other fashion events they instead are paid for their services? Or ask her about the fledgling Hum TV awards — staged for the first time just a few weeks ago. Doesn’t it just seem a tad too self-congratulatory to give out awards for their own programs? Why can’t they allow accolades to be delivered through the established annual Lux Style Awards like all the other channels? Glib-tongued, introspective and very lucid, She doesn’t bat an eyelid.

Answers

BCW, she says, may have its critics but there’s no denying the event’s popularity. “It’s avidly watched which is why we set aside prime-time weekend slots for it. Yes, we do charge a participation fee, but we also have a selection committee that eliminates collections that are truly atrocious,” says Shanaz. “Besides, despite the fee, designers and stylists clamour to be included in the show. The fee is a very nominal amount considering that the show is aired repeatedly on a channel that is watched all over the world, a detailed catalogue is printed showcasing each design and no expense is spared in creating the set.”

But now that BCW has become a well-established bi-annual event, shouldn’t the selection committee — with members whose names cannot be revealed for some unfathomable reason — be more discerning about the designers it allows onto its entourage? “New designers have to be allowed in because how else will they grow and improve?” reasons Ramzi. “The line-up also always includes plenty of veterans in order to maintain quality and keep the audience interested.”

Style360 dwindles

Incidentally, the network’s fashion coverage was earlier primarily aired on their channel Style360. Recently, though, Style360 dwindled from being a full-fledged channel to receiving limited air-time on the newly formed subsidiary Hum-2. The fashion-based channel had initially started off strong but later succumbed to the lure of amateurish, lackadaisical talk shows and broadcasting the same fashion shows repeatedly. Was Style360 snipped away because it was unable to draw audiences on its own merit? “I think we got a bit demotivated with Style360,” mulls Ramzi. “Cable operators refused to recognise it as an entertainment channel and pushed it to the end of their channel listings. By making Style360 a part of Hum-2 we managed to cut costs and kill two birds with one stone. Fashion fans could still catch their preferred shows during specific time-slots and we could also address the growing demand for our old dramas to be re-telecast.”

Awarding ourselves

Do audiences really want to watch older dramas all over again? Sure they do, says Ramzi.  This audience was, of course, consolidated through last year’s magnum opus, Humsafar, which became a super-duper, money-minting hit. “We really appreciate and take pride in the artistes that have stood by us and produced such spectacular dramas for us.”

The recent Hum TV awards were apparently devised in order to show this appreciation. Interspersed between the inevitable stage performances, awards were given out for primarily drama and sitcom-related fields with a few statuettes set aside for the limited music and fashion categories. Who formed the awards’ jury? That’s another hush-hush secret that cannot be revealed. The important fact was that the channel managed to show its gratitude to the people who had now become integral to it. “I wonder why other channels haven’t yet come up with their own awards’ line-ups yet. It’s a great way to boost morale and create goodwill. I am also surprised that quite a few print and electronic mediums barely covered the awards. They should have recognised that this event was boosting the industry as a whole rather than just our channel.”

However, all over the world, events highlighting one channel are hardly given major coverage by their competition. It’s simple economics, really and one that Ramzi is aware of. “It doesn’t bother us since we make sure that our events are at least well-covered on our own channels.” And that’s good enough coverage with a platform like Hum, which is growing, gaining ground and getting stronger with time.  7:49:59 PM

Published in The Express Tribune, April 8th, 2013.                      

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