The exoticness of Fawad Khan: Why one man is giving Indian women (and men) sleepless nights

Published: September 30, 2016
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Pakistani actor Fawad Khan has a huge fan following among women. PHOTO: PINTEREST

To ask a Pakistani actor to go back to his country when there has allegedly been a terrorist attack on Indian soil by Pakistanis, is both stupid and understandable. The citizens ask for quick retaliation and, as always, people in the world of arts, culture and film are the softest targets.

The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), sensing the public pulse, cashed in on the anger and gave Pakistani actors and artists a 48-hour ultimatum to leave India. And mind you, a lot of Indians are irate with the presence of the Pakistani artists in India. That does not make them right or wrong, but that is true.

The question is why.

On the other hand, Pakistani actor Fawad Khan has a huge fan following among women. Unlike Indian men, Indian women are not that gung-ho about sending the Kapoor & Sons star back home. Are Indian women less patriotic? Nobody knows, nobody is inside their head. The MNS has threatened Karan Johar that the party will halt the release of Ae Dil Hai Mushkil which stars Fawad Khan. If one goes through the comments section of news posts regarding Pakistani actors versus MNS fracas, you will find that it is mostly men who are clamouring for the actor to move out.

Why so?

Actually, Indian men hate Fawad Khan for the same reason they hate Shoaib Malik. How dare this Pakistani man enter the hearts (and homes) of our Indian girls? Well, he did. There is no going back from that.

Fawad was destined to become a star in the subcontinent. He did not enter India with ‘I’m Karan Johar’s boy’ plastered on his forehead. He came to India with the hit Pakistani TV show Zindagi Gulzar Hai (ZGH) on Zindagi channel. Suddenly, Indian housewives, tired with the saas-bahu-kavach-daayan nonsense, were watching a sombre, polite TV serial about what appeared to be ‘real people’. And in the middle of it was a very handsome, accessible man who behaved like a normal human being, unlike the ordinary-looking, ordinary male actors one would find in Indian TV shows.

Zindagi Gulzar Hai ran for only 25 episodes. By that time, Indian women had found their drug. But their Fawad-fix was not satiated. So Zindagi offered Fawad in measured doses. After ZGH ended, the channel ran the promo of Fawad’s telefilm Behadd on loop, teasing the audience and gauging their response.

Then, as Khoobsurat (Fawad’s Bollywood debut) was about to release, the channel started airing the promos of Fawad’s highly popular show Humsafar.

So, in a way, Fawad Khan has been in the Indian woman’s heart for a long, long time. Indian women have a lot more at stake, emotionally and sentimentally, in Fawad Khan. Indian men look at this sudden anomaly as a threat. And indeed, his uniqueness and exoticness was furthered propelled by the kind of roles he did in Bollywood.

In Khoobsurat, Fawad played a Rajasthani prince, a distant, inaccessible, hard-to-reach and hard-to-get man. In that film, neither did he dance nor did he stalk the heroine. He did not get naked and bare his entire torso. He was dignified, stoic, spartan, the ultimate ‘Complete Man’ Raymond suiting and shirting could get. And, well, Indian girls had found their new crush, so very different from the chhichhoda (cheap) heroes they had been subjected to for years, and Indian moms found their template for the perfect son-in-law.

Fawad’s next film Kapoor & Sons had him play a gay man. Again, he got the ‘mature guy’ role as opposed to his co-star Sidharth Malhotra who had to shake a leg to Badshah’s song. Most importantly, his gay character was not an effeminate stereotype. He appeared ‘human’.

This ‘humanness’ has been the key to Fawad’s popularity. He is both accessible and inaccessible (he is from across the border, guys). The Indian man cannot understand this. So, either he tries to ignore him. Or hate him. And what better opportunity than a Pak attack for these men to publicly outrage against Fawad?

Or, perhaps, there is more to it. It is indeed a fact that Fawad has still not publicly condemned the Uri attacks. This is truly unlike him, as he did express grievance during the November 2015 Paris attacks on Twitter. So did the Pakistani singer-actor Ali Zafar and VJ-turned-actor Mahira Khan who will soon be seen in Shah Rukh Khan’s Raees. Mahira went on to criticise the Orlando club shooting as well.

But, somehow, when there has been a terrorist attack in India, the country that has given them stardom, fame, and money beyond what Pakistan could possibly give, they are strangely silent. And this has not gone down well with ‘patriotic Indians’, both the polite kind and the kind to vilify any secular commentator on social media as a ‘Porkistani’ who needs to be deported.

In all likelihood, neither Fawad nor Mahira or Ali Zafar will be sent back to Pakistan. Money is more important than religion or nationality in India, and when crores are at stake, power players will ensure that nothing as absurd as Fawad’s expulsion happens. Be that as it may, the question remains: After all this, will Indian men ever warm up to Fawad Khan? Will Indian men ever cosy up to him as they have to, say a Ranveer or a Varun?

Time will tell.

This post originally appeared on IndiaToday.in.

Devarsi Ghosh

Devarsi Ghosh

The author writes about films for a living and hopes to write films someday. He tweets as @devarsighosh (twitter.com/devarsighosh)

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

  • DQ trnsfrm

    Is this even real news!
    Lol
    Go check what Pakistani women’s cricket team thinks about Virat Kohli
    Does it mean he gives them “sleepless nights”?
    This is such a absurd and shameless articleRecommend

  • akhil g

    He is giving some bad women and guys of India some sleepless night.Recommend

  • papiha

    why don’t you and your friends exhaust your energies about dreaming of fawad Recommend

  • Milind A

    How silly of this writer? Are only soldiers enemies of each other? If actors, writers do not want to boycott actors/writers from Pakistan, why should soldiers fight each other. Let Indian soldiers welcome Pakistani soldiers (and terrorists) with open arms and everything will be kosher.Recommend

  • http://www.jaaliangrez.wordpress.com Saira Z.

    “the country that has given them stardom, fame, and money beyond what Pakistan could possibly give”

    Lol, what are you talking about? Fawad Khan was already a super star in Pakistan. Tobah at such gross Bollywoodish generalization.Recommend

  • Jaffar Miyan

    Express Tribune taken down my comments. I had written in the same language as that of Devarsi Ghosh. The difference is I mentioned Pakistani females whereas Devarshi Ghosh mentioned Indian females. This shows Tribune is biased and I don’t know if these comments will be added down here or not.Recommend

  • MR.X

    As a pakistani ,i agreeRecommend

  • Haney

    No women in Pakistan thinks Virat Kohli is hot. I like him as a player and may be many women in Pakistan too but no body is mad about his Looks..Trust yaaa…Recommend

  • http://thoughtsandotherthing.blogspot.fr/2015/09/hyderabad-as-i-know-and-feel.html Supriya Arcot

    If 2 counties are fighting , all the more reason to encourage best talent from “the other side ” . They make Our culture more rich .Its a compliment for Us that They wish to work with us and add to Our quality . It shows Our tolerance and diversity . Every actor or singer performing with Us is a testament to the kind of opportunities and atmosphere We are giving them .Recommend

  • Sanchi Yaduvanshi

    Khoobsurat was highest grossing Bollywood movie of the year.
    Approximately 500 million Indian women watched movie only to see him.Recommend

  • Faulitics

    Tribune is “Patriotic” despite their claims of being liberals.Recommend

  • Rajiv

    Fawad Khan has already left India.
    good riddance.Recommend

  • hp kumar

    hahaha..yeh to kamal hi ho gaya..first of all ,this is very immaturely written article.I would have taken this article seriously only when this was a confession supposedly made by an indian woman.Author seems very naive while presenting facts.This is very evident form few of the points from his article.If i were him,i would never have written on behalf of indian women .men r simple.But as per my point of view women specially indian one r very complicated. i m pasting one of the quotes written in this article here “. Are Indian women less patriotic? Nobody knows, nobody is inside their head”.see ,he has no clue about whether Indian women r patriotic even.Read again “. Nobody knows, nobody is inside their head”Lol.But he knows for sure that Indian women literally die for fawad khan…great!
    I have objection with few of the lines of this article.Not sure how it got pass through.
    “Money is more important than religion or nationality in India” certainly this is not how we r.Author must be speaking for himself.We Indians r highly patriotic .Zee channel head subash chandra didnot think even a once while taking down pakistani serial from zindagi despite having paid 60 crs inr (100cr in pkr) to pak serial producers.Now since Pakistani actors r banned ,his speculation also went wrong.
    Author belongs to bengal i suppose.He is an aspiring journalist.He should learn from senior journalist like Soumyadipta who belongs to his hometown.A sane adice take it if you want to grow in your career,Mr author.Recommend

  • gk

    hey buddy fawad khan is not so famous in india when compared to the khans trio. more ever indian women are very matured and they will see only his acting skills not his looks.Recommend

  • hp kumar

    Dude dont get into this.Et hastaken down your comment for all the right reason.just coz this author devarsi ghosh got to have some wrong values and can shamelessly write about women publicly ,doesnot mean that you should be allowed to write in the similar way about women from other country.Mind you ,this guy is an Indian.He must be given some training.He doesnot not know how to carry himself in public .Recommend

  • Jaffar Miyan

    What trust ya,, Qandeel Balouc youtube video, she was trembling with lust talking about Virat,, OH MY GOD HE IS SO HOT., Pakistani females since 70 years are going nuts and crazy over Indian stars.Recommend

  • Jaffar Miyan

    since 70 years all Pakistani females are crazy and mad about Indian male starsRecommend

  • wb

    Yeah? And Supen Mohan is a super star in Rugby in India.Recommend

  • Daniyal Shah

    Agree who says that Paki women’s cricket team like vk or any other indian cricketer, neither men nor women like him for me he is ordinary looking men,yeah in cricket he may be good but unfortunately not in looks and all these news that Paki women’s cricket team are dying for indian players are totally fictitious and unethical by considering this please next time before giving any negative comments about Pakistan thinks hundred times.Recommend

  • Sirik

    Are you a representative of Pak women?Recommend

  • Sirik

    This author is a bengali from India. And me myself being a Bengali I am ashamed of this guy. Recommend

  • MOIN KHAN

    Check out the youtube of Qandeel Balouch expressing her feelings for VIrat Kohli.Recommend

  • jssidhoo

    I like Fawad he is a good actor and a sweet person but country comes first . Lets hope for good relations then u can get back to watching our movies and we will welcome your artists till then everyone watch your own stuff . Good relations are more important than movies .Recommend

  • Bana Post

    when peshawar school attacked kids in India had extended condolence sincerely though the pakis say it was staged by RAW .The same paki artist acted when Paris US and Peshawar are attacked. they tweeted, composed songs and cried ,and so on when our people are killed they preferred to be silent. Pakis are banning Indian films.India for the first time unitedly says no pak artist in India. Paki artist wants money ,fame and they would not say anything against its state and non state actors role in India .These Paki actors
    i call joker have no future in Pakistan.No one India liked Thakre families talk againt Pakistan in the past .But every word Raj Thakre is welcomed by every Indians now in India Such a anti Pakistan sentiments flows in India Hope Express Tribune would not either edit or delete my postRecommend

  • abhi

    Fawad Khan is a useless person. I don’t think he will be missed in India.Recommend

  • ali hammad

    Pakistanis don’t like black hindus.Recommend

  • Rajiv

    Even Kapil Sharma looks better and earns more than this NoName Pakistani actor.Recommend

  • Saransh Parimoo

    Writer seems to be quite naive, while its true that Fawad has a decent fan folowing among girls and is quite nice actorThis whole Fawad khan craze has been blown out of proportion,

    1)-For those who are ignorant of the fact, more than half of India don’t watch Bollywood (Hindi Movies), Only 2.5 crore tickets were sold of Bajrangi Bhaijaan. India has strong regional film Industries in their Southern Part of India, and in North east and the interiors of India they don’t watch much of Hindi movies or TV channels, Forget about Fawad khan, they even don’t watch Salman Khan movies. So this whole- Fawad khan craze among Indian girls- seems farce, when even more than half of India don’t know about him. Maybe, Writer has taken the emotions of the girls of North India and Mumbai as that of rest of India’s.

    2)- To my Pakistani Friends, you need to understand that Bollywood just like any other movie industry runs on Money, in which the success rate is only 10%. If Fawad khan would have sweep of feet of Bollywood,then I am sure he must have had 2 or 3 movies in pipeline as a lead solo star. While none of this is true,the fact of the matter is his debut movie was woman oriented movie, while his Second movie was an ensemble affair, for which he was the 4th or 5th choice, just because No Bollywood actor wanted to play gay on screen, that role fell on his loop ( He should be appreciated for doing that role). This shows his so called stardom in India, also in ADHM, he is having a guest appearance, because the character is of a Muslim boy and all of the characters except that of Ranbir is Muslim in the movie, so to cash in on his popularity in Pakistan, Karan Johar took him. Karan johar just like any other Indian movie producer is ensuring all the successfull ingredients to make his movie successful, both domestic as well as global.

    3)- And to those Indians, who think that Zee has shown great patriotism by banning all Pakistani Dramas, fact of the matter was none of them was raking up moolah for Zee. Except for few Pakistani dramas none of them became much popular among Indian TV audience, TRP of Zindagi as compared to Indian Channels is quite low, so he hasn’t done any great service to the Country, no business runs without profit and the same applies to him too as well as to the likes of so called peace lovers like Mahesh Bhatt.

    Both Indians and Pakistanis are being made fool for last 70 years, when these war clouds will be over, Pakistanis will watch Hindi movies in the theaters of Pakistan and Indians will hear the songs of Atif or Rahat or watch movies of Fawad or Ali Zafar (Hindi movies), just wait for 6 months, until then enjoy this age old ceremonial.Recommend

  • Rajiv

    Cheap journalismRecommend

  • Haney

    Hahahha , your name says so JAffar MIAN :D
    Nobody is crazy about Indian men and Qandeel, we don’t think she was authentic lady representing common Pakistani women, sad she was killed by his brother. Nobody in this world thinks Indians are handsome, Sorryyy !!Recommend

  • hp kumar

    And you pakistani men stand a chance before indian women? He is not a person to be admired in real life.Overtime he has grown a sense entitlement on bollywood .His arrogance was noted down and he was targeted by media for the same reason.I would suggest you to better refrain from hurling abuses on each other.We have already enough of it ,i think.Recommend

  • Haney

    Yes we stand a good chance as we have many examples. don’t wanna quote here those examples neither i have some sort of attraction towards indian women. I just said what we people think sorry for sounding like that if it hurts you. i gonna edit my comment. Peace !Recommend

  • hp kumar

    pl dont edit to sell your own narrative.OkRecommend

  • Bilal Shabbir

    sorry but this article is written by an ordinary Indian having a sense of whats going on there in society, no offence but aren’t every actress is crazy about to work with Fawad? Depika, Sonam, Katrina??
    Dont create mess. Artists are beautiful on both sides but what matters is the quality of their acting.Recommend

  • Patwari

    Well, hindus are inclined to be very dark, short with aborigine flat
    facial features. Not a handsome race, at all. With the exception of a
    few drop dead beautiful Hindu actresses like Depika, Soanam Kapoor,
    Sonali, etc. You can the beautiful ones, on the fingers of one hand.Recommend

  • Patwari

    Well said ! Exemplary comment ! One gem, in a bag of coal, vitriolic
    comments, from Hindustan.
    May your tribe increase. And may your flocks flourish.
    And the rest see the wisdom of your words.Recommend

  • Rajiv

    So what is your problem in that?Recommend

  • Rajiv

    You Pakistanis are so handsome that nobody wants to come to your Great Country.
    The foreigners just get bedazzled by the handsome-ness of the Pakistanis.Recommend

  • Allah Rakha

    This article makes me go Hahaha.. seriously.. the ‘baap’ of all SRK and Salman Khan and Hrithik and John Abraham.. and to make you all feel better, the new ‘Chaiwala’ has good looks and better looking than your Fawad Khan (checkout his freakin’ popularity)..hahaha.. you Pakistanis only believe in ‘Good Looks’, there are more good looking people in the world that India craves for.. what nonsense comparing him or even treat him as an actor in Bollywood, he is just a new kid on the block, and honestly, he is good doing soap operas. He fits in there just fine.Recommend

  • Maryam Sheikh

    Thank you so much for sharing such a nice post. Indeed, Fawad Khan is a real hero for the Subcontinent. He has proved to be one of the best actors around.Recommend