The year may change, but Pakistan’s woes don’t. Be it 2022 or 2023, running from country to country with a begging bowl remains the underlying theme. Amid this back-breaking inflation, the flour shortage, the poultry price hike, and the forex reserves fading as fast as our monthly salaries, for gham ghalat (relief), Pakistanis look forward to newfound social media stars. Even though the fault is in our political stars. Well what explains having a defence minister who incentivises birth control by shutting down markets at 8pm? Or a food minister who suggests people stop eating chicken as prices soar by the day?
There would be many whose New Year resolution would be to reach the stars. However, Pakistan saw the birth of some stars in the year gone by whose life mantra is entertainment. They are entertaining when they are singing, dancing, advising on health issues, making path-breaking inventions, or simply living. They are one-in-a-million and that’s why these A-listers are Pakistan’s one and only hope from the year gone by.
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Forget the historic saying – jine Lahore nai vekhaya oo jamya nai (he who hasn’t seen Lahore hasn’t been born). We now live in the era of Lahore da pava Akhtar Lawa! (Akhtar Lawa, the foundation of Lahore). You’d want to know the meaning of it all, but what if I told you your life would be meaningless after you crack this? It so happened that Akhtar Lawa, a businessman from Lahore, was visiting hill station Murree with his friends. One of his friends uploaded a video on social media where Akhtar can be seen jumping in a unique style – out of nowhere – and shouting Lahore da pava Akhtar lawa. And, as they say, the rest is history.
You couldn’t miss it even if you wanted to. You missing this lava is like the International Cricket Council (ICC) barring Akhtar for his controversial bowling action. Based on his running and shouting, he can be booked. But no. Because with every scroll on his profile, you’d find a meme on him – performed not only by Pakistanis but by fans overseas. The rappers were creating compositions while meme makers and TikTokers found a goldmine in Akhtar. Lucky are the entertainers because Akhtar Lawa has bigger and better dreams like joining politics-more material for meme makers coming. Now if Americans fear Elon Musk will run for president in 2024, we fear the Akhtar Lawa sarkar in Lahore and beyond.
Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan has had more than one successor claim in the past 18 months. First, Chahat Fateh Ali Khan, a cab driver all the way from London, and now Muhammad Ali Khan from Lahore who sells wipers for a living. All he hopes for is a chance to showcase his raw talent in a musical show like Coke Studio or Indian Idol.
Many are calling him the “first copy of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.” Like most significant things in Pakistan, they begin with dreams – from the ‘original’ dream of a separate homeland for Muslims that Allama Iqbal saw to Imran Khan’s journey to prime minister office via his pir’s dream. And dreams turned into reality. Such is the power of dreams. Now NFAK 2.0 says that Nusrat coming in his dreams and him singing in front of his ustad is a sign. We believe him.
If you haven’t seen a Pakistani mehndi ceremony dance on the remix song mera dil yeh pukare aaja, then you have been living under a rock. It was impossible to escape Ayesha Mano’s viral video of her grooving to the Indian song at her friend’s mehndi. Even Indian actress Madhuri Dixit was inspired to recreate the magic that is now trending in memes and even in our dreams.
If Pathaan is a fever, then these Pakistanis are measuring 107 degrees on the thermometer. One is dancing to Besharam Rang at Multan metro station. Another in the village fields is giving tough competition to Deepika sans saffron bikini. Besharam Rang even got a tabla cover from Anees Jafer.
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Pakistani Mr Bean was given a “new life” last year after a Zimbabwe cricket fan complained that he got a copy instead of the original. The matter became more exciting after Zimbabwe beat Pakistan in the T20 World Cup last year, which was considered revenge for sending Mr Bean lite. That’s how real and quirky our Mr Bean is.
To add some rang mein bhang (playing spoilsport), a doctor invented theories around favourite snacks and foods. Now eating samosa is forbidden because, according to the genius doctor, the oil used to deep fry is used again and again and again – even by future generations. According to him, samosas are 400-calorie atom bombs. Jalebi is a Ghauri missile, pizza is a drone attack while Biryani is a nuclear missile. After nuking us with food WMDs (weapons of mass destruction), the good samosa-wala doctor has moved on to his devastating insights on masturbation. As if it is the biggest problem Pakistan is facing. He suggests men can masturbate 12 times a day without any fear of impotency. Wonder if the doctor is counting the calories here as well.
The author is a freelance journalist from Pakistan. Her Twitter handle is @nailainayat. Views are personal.
(Edited by Tarannum Khan)