MOMINA: ONE TO WATCH

CINEMAIN TERMS of celebrities, my person of the year is Momina Mustehsan.

The strikingly attractive singer with a heaven-sent voice has become a strong symbol of woman empowerment in Pakistan and an impressive role model for young girls. Apart from making a significant mark in a heavily male dominated music industry in a very short space of time, she has also talked openly about important issues like cyber bullying, mental illness and women’s rights.

Definitely one to watch, Pakistan’s newest treasure already looks like becoming an icon who will entertain, educate and inspire for many years to come.

IRRFAN SOLVES PUZZLE

ACTOR Irrfan Khan will have a flying start to 2018 because his next Hollywood film Puzzle gets its world premiere at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival, which runs from January 18-28.

The comedy-drama revolves around a taken-forgranted suburban mother who discovers a passion for solving jigsaw puzzles, which draws her into a new world. The versatile star has an impressive array of projects next year and will once again have all eyes on him globally.

KHAN AMIR LIE LOW?

THERE is no denying that this has been a terrible year for boxer Amir Khan and his ‘wannabe celebrity’ wife Faryal Makhdoom.

There was a public feud on social media, allegations of cheating and a not-sogreat appearance from the boxer on I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here, where he showed the world how fighting may have killed his brain cells. The best thing for the publicity-hungry couple in 2018 would be to keep a low profile, which includes him not getting caught by the UK press cheating on her.

I fear that won’t happen and they will generate more negative headlines next year.

BAD BOLLYWOOD YEAR

A TERRIBLE cinematic year means it will be difficult for upcoming Bollywood award ceremonies to put together a credible list of nominees.

Meanwhile, the superb Secret Superstar, which deserves massive plaudits, will be largely absent because its producer Aamir Khan stays away from award ceremonies.

A sign of how bad things are was Neha Dhupia recently winning a Best Supporting Actress award for a nothing performance in average film Tumhari Sulu. It was the first honour for the wooden actress in her 14-year career.

A BIG SUCCESS STORY

TWO game-changing movies made on dramatically different budgets have been the biggest shining lights in what has been a decidedly dull cinematic year.

Mega-budget fantasy film Baahubaal 2: The Conclusion smashed global box office records and expanded the horizons of Indian cinema.

My movie of the year is Hollywood comedy The Big Sick – starring Kumail Nanjiani and Zoe Kazan – a huge sleeper hit made on a relatively low budget. This must-watch gem shows what can be achieved with great writing.

MEERA’S STAGE CRAFT

I CAUGHT up with Meera Syal straight after a stand-out performance in the ongoing West End musical Annie, where she plays the villainous Miss Hannigan.

One thing that was very apparent to me is the multitalented British star still has the same passion for theatre as she did at the beginning of her career, and it was heart-warming to see her get the biggest ovation from the audience.

Annie is being staged at Piccadilly Theatre, London until February 18.