Mahira’s “matkas” and “jhatkas” prove she’s the greatest marketeer in Pakistan

Published: August 4, 2016

They love when her dupatta falls strategically at the right time during a performance. PHOTO: SCREENSHOT

Mahira Khan’s larger-than-life performance and her red-carpet appearance at the LSA2016 (replete with a dress and entourage big enough to fill up all of Expo Center), proved to me that she’s an excellent brand manager who understands her target audience very well.

At a time when people are desperately trying to go back to old values, Mahira brings back the charisma of yesteryear.

Her audience loves when her lip is bitten in sharam. They oppose the women who bite it in lust.

They love when her dupatta falls strategically at the right time during a performance. They do not like women whose dupattas are intentionally hung away.

They like when she giggles as soon as she sights the male lead and runs away shyly with her sukhi sahelian (content friends). They do not like women who tell the joke to the male lead and then laugh uproariously even when he doesn’t.

This woman perfectly knows what works in Pakistan and she does it brilliantly well!

She’s the Pakistani darling, sweetheart, beloved – and she won’t stray from that image even for a second.

She’ll turn up in a poufy gown that covers her body but shows enough shape to keep the audiences mystified.

She chooses roles where her chastity belt is tightened and her charm churns through.

She’s not just an actress, host, dancer – she’s the director of the greatest personal brand to exist in Pakistan.

She’s as brilliant as Waqar Zaka – another brand manager who knows his audience equally well. Controversy works in Pakistan and so he dates it with delect.

And that’s the reason why women like Mahira will always win “Best Actress” awards and women like Qandeel Baloch will be shot in Pakistan.

But I ask the stunning marketer – what happens when her brand becomes old – does brand loyalty stay with her when “sharam” no longer sells?

Where does her career go when she can no longer be the beautiful “bahu” or “beti”?

Will we be ever able to digest Mahira as a stereotypical “saas”? The roles she has herself helped create in the industry.

What happens when “behaya” and “beghairat” women take the stages?

What happens when there is no longer a need for “Mahira the Masoom” ?

I’m sorry I bring up these difficult questions to you, Mahira, but I guess these are the ones I hope your daughter or the women in Pakistani will ask you one day!

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This post originally appeared here.

Saba Khalid

Saba Khalid

A blogger for Rolling Stone magazine, a contributor to Kulturaustauch and Musikexpres, Saba is an Institute for Foreign Affairs (IFA) Cross Culture scholar for the year 2012 who also teaches creative writing to young aspiring writers. She blogs at and can be found on instagram as @thecityalive

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Anonymous Name

    Stop being jealous sis and work hard like Mahira, if you want to become famous like her.

    There are no short cuts to success.

    Btw, Mahira is NOT a good dancer. She absolutely sucks at it.Recommend

  • bilal abedin

    absolutely classy article Ms. Saba, really appreciable….Recommend

  • liberal-lubna-fromLahore

    so this is the same pakistan when if someone is murdered, pakistani liberals quickly claim as a barbaric country for women?
    These people leave no stone untorned to excellently and perfectly tarnsih the image of Pakistan by pouring crocodile tears all over social media if something liberal is accompanied by a tragedy which then attracts attention of international news outlets who publish stories that basically defame our country preventy potential lucrative investment partnerships from taking place in Pakistan.

    No wonder we are so behind because of these fake pakistani liberals, who do everything they can in their power to ruin the image of pakistan.

    If pakistan is such an oppressed environment for women, then there would not be bold women like Mahira Khan and Mehwish Hayat among countless others.

    Stop using one unfortunate tragedy to generalize a whole country for God’s sake.
    One Malala can make the whole country backward but one Mahira cannot make the whole country liberal? Thats how pathetic you liberals’s logic is.

    Pakistani women are free, bold, liberal and educated. In words of Vaneeza Ahmad, a famous Pakistani liberal who happens to be a REAL liberal for a change and not a fake one. ” PAKISTAN IS ONE OF THE MOST LIBERAL PLACES, I FEEL, IN THE WORLD “. PERIOD. Anyone who claims pakistan as backward and intolerant is a hypocritical bigot who needs to open thier mind to see the picture.

    Pakistan is a bold and liberal country for women! Believe that! Fake liberal would not know it because they only acknowledge something liberal ONLY and ONLY if that is accompanied by some sort of tragedy like the case of qandeel baloch. These people left no stone unturned to label pakistan as an extremist oppressed barbaric country! Thats just their evil agenda to tarnish image of Pakistan. It is the same country where annual LUX style awards took place a couple of days ago. But God forbid these brainwashed western values influenced pakistani liberals would appreciate that, or talk about that in their blogs or just give an acknowledgement that Pakistan is a liberal country. Nope, they wait for tragedies to occur then whine and moan all they want to use that to complain to uncle sam in USA how oppressed they are and how desperately they need asylum to USA.
    Yeah good luck with your asylum applications. We dont want u anyway. leave!Recommend

  • liberal-lubna-fromLahore

    People only see what they want to see, especially pakistani fake liberals like the author of this blog.

    Height of stupidity portrayed in this article. You talk as if every actress in Pakistan is so cultured. Mahira is a versatile actress and pride of Pakistan.You are jealous.
    Its sad to see women turning up against each other. You would never the sheer amount of hard work and sacrifices in everything she does to please and entertain ungrateful audiences like yourself. And where the hell are you liberals even going with this?
    You seriously linked Qandeel murder with Mahir’s dance performance? You defy logic.
    They are completely irrelevant to each other. You trying to compare the two only shows what sick agenda you have to portray a negative image of Pakistan. Pakistan did not murder Qandeel. Her brother did. Stop making this a societal and cultural issue and making an attempt to reach some sort of weird logic that would show the world how oppressed people in this country are. Pakistan is a liberal society. If Qandeel was really murdered for vulgar things she did, all the stage dancers in Pakistan would have alredy been killed. You guys are in the wrong here. Just presenting a cause for the murder that is not there!
    Mahira has her own personality. She has done conservative and liberal roles. She is not dumb. If you have seen her interviews, which judging from this blog, looks like you obviously have not otherwise you would not be writing this lame blog in the first place, then you would know she is aware of the things you have mentioned in this article. She knows what works and what does not. Your issue with that is? Like I dont see your point. Pakistan is not Hindustan where vulgarity is common like tea.
    Our society does not appreciates twerking dry humping explicit sexual scenes.
    You dont like it? LEAVE. Go move to San francisco. They have just the right culture you are lustfully seeking.

    And dont drag Qandeel again. Majority of people who did not like did not go on to make a plan to kill her. We simply ignored her and she kept doing her own thing. Her brother was a sick who ultimately killed her not for those provocative pics or videos but for that photo with the cleric. And god knows what reasons are behind that.Recommend

  • liberal-lubna-fromLahore

    cant get over how illogical this blog post is. my 3rd comment here everybody!

    So you basically took Qandeel and Mahira and put them in your own custom context to give reasons that basically serve your own biased opinion.

    If Pakistan is such a barbaric country for women who do not adhere to traditional cultural norms, then how come other risque bold dance numbers made IN Pakistan featuring PAKISTANI women like Mehwish , Mathira, Sohai etc. etc. have been able to flourish and went on to became the designated actresses’ hallmark moments of their career? How they did not garner any attention from honor killers and fatwa issuing mullahs like Qandeel?
    That is because you cant link these different things together to make it seem like there is a deep societal issue in Pakistan. It is not about that. Qandeel murder was an isolated case and should be taken as that.

    Point is, you see only what you want to see to slam your own bias opinions. Pakistan is a liberal country. If you feel oppressed, move somewhere else.Recommend

  • Alisha

    Great article.Recommend