Stories about mass popularity

Is Shahid Afridi above the law?

I joined in, wholeheartedly, as millions of Pakistanis rejoiced over our recent triumph on the cricket ground against Bangladesh. In a nation where cricket is followed with religious fervour, it is no surprise that cricket heroes like Shahid Afridi are exalted to the level of saints. This may be the reason Afridi’s recent outburst, at the Karachi Airport, was swiftly brushed aside as justified, with no official follow-up save for a brief statement issued by the cricketer that implicitly condoned his actions. The public’s acceptance of his actions is disturbing to say the least. Granted, Afridi’s consistent contributions on the cricket ...

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The terrible appeal of Humsafar

The appeal of Humsafar is obvious. You could cut through the weird chemistry between Khirad and Ashar, the hero authors of romance novels would be envious of. Eye candy, nakedly sexual, he stares arduously at his love interest with desire that would give the Grammarian and the Aisha Bawany schoolgirl goose bumps. He is clean cut. He smiles infrequently and when he does, it seems as if it were a gift. Physical contact is at a minimum. Sex is implied, and there is a chastity reminiscent of Zia-era dramas that drives people insane with tension. Khirad on the other hand, played by the cherubic ...

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Humsafar: A comic review

If you’re a human being  and you know a Pakistani woman, then you’ve probably heard about Humsafar.   I could write pages on how this show is planting the seed of fasaad (trouble) in perfectly normal and happy households and how it’s basically just a guide on how to break up pretty normal marriages. The fact that most women like it says a lot. I’ll end the casual sexism now and just give you the review. Enjoy it! A couple of things to remember: this review is supposed to be funny. If you do not ...

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Why comments and likes matter in the (new) media world

The number of comments or likes or tweets on an online news article or Op-ed do not determine its real worth, just its popularity. What is popular on news sites is ‘common’, ‘low-brow’ perhaps ‘sensational’ maybe even ‘gripping’ but it is rarely what is ‘good journalism’ or ‘valuable opinion’. Therefore, clicks, hits, comments and likes are definitely not a measure of success for a ‘real’ writer or journalist. This is what the old vanguard of journalists, columnists, bloggers and writers of all-sorts would have you believe. Being an editor for an online news desk has left me open to frequent attacks ...

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Obama’s unfulfilled promises

For Americans and a huge chunk of non-Americans who (sometimes unwillingly) are affected by American policy and rhetoric, the annual State of the Union (SOTU) address makes for important TV. Oh, except that one time in 2010 when that episode of Lost was nearly delayed thanks to competing airtime forcing many to directly question the President’s Office if their president was even aware of this pending catastrophe. Very kindly, the White House assured America’s citizenry that President Obama would “not pre-empt the premier of the show’s final season”. Returning to tonight’s SOTU. On January 24, 9 pm President Obama’s third address to ...

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Not another Humsafar episode

You know you need a parody on Humsafar when everyone and their mother’s great grandkhala is talking about it. So here it is! The video begins with a tongue-in-cheek comparison of sorts between the Twilight saga and Humsafar. It then moves on to a sketch piece featuring Karachi-based model and actress Rubya Chaudhry, and local theatre actors Mustafa Ali Khan, Sundus Jamil (also a model and local television actress) Haris Shahbaz and myself. The sketch is a comedic ‘recap’ of the initial 11-12 episodes of the drama serial, highlighting the key moments in a not-so-dramatic interpretation. The video also features a ...

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10 things I hate about Hindi soaps

I have always been impressed by how Bollywood has emerged as an internationally renowned entertainment industry. People from all backgrounds, even in Pakistan, keep a close watch on the happenings in Bollywood, despite the silly India-Pakistan strife. I love India and Indian people, and let me make clear before I begin that I do not intend to attack or offend anyone through this post. I am merely highlighting some aspects of Indian soaps which I find amusing. So without further ado, let me begin my list of the ten things I hate about Indian soaps: 1. They are endless: To put it simply, ...

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Rio: Fly, but not too high

Pixar has spoiled me. Because, this studio continuously raises its own bar, I have come to associate digitally animated films with well written characters, poignant, heartfelt dialogue and nuanced story telling. Perhaps I should lower my standards, because Rio does not measure up. It is not a family movie that appeals to children and adults on different levels. It is a movie for children and as such it’s not bad. Watching this movie in the theatre was fairly enjoyable. The bright colors, 3D effects, caramel popcorn and people passing out Rio cookies (what a clever advertising campaign that just fell in to ...

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Noori: Don’t make digs at pop culture

I recently chanced upon a local morning show where Ali Hamza and Ali Noor of the infamous band Noori were the guests. As the simpering hostess struggled under the weight of roughly two kilogrammes of cosmetics and artificial hair, her more composed male co-host raised a topic of actual interest. There have been few mentions of south-eastern pop culture without Munni Badnaam coming up, as it did on this instance. The brothers vehemently declared their dislike for such mainstream, sales-oriented musical productions – contrary to the opinion shared by a majority of heterosexual males. Looking like he had just discovered a piece ...

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The lonely death of the protest song

It is often said that nations are at their strongest when faced with adversity, whether it be natural disaster or war. It’s supposed to bring out the best in everyone, a time when they decide to put aside all differences and unite for a common cause. During such times, however, the opposite is also true. While the general masses seeks guidance and unity under one cause, it provides an opportunity for the sly and corrupt to manipulate for their own benefit. It is during such times that we see the emergence of art forms depicting social problems which would otherwise ...

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