Dear Hamza Ali Abbasi, Mahira Khan, Reham Bhabi and Ayyan Ali – Hi!
Open letters are the new ‘in’ thing. Everyone, while not busy taking selfies or engaging in internet wars, is writing them. Unlike personal letters that are addressed to and only read by the person intended, these have a universal appeal. Hence, I decided to write a few of my own, a series of them in fact.
Here is the first one:
To Hamza Ali Abbasi from an Online Jihadi.
Hazrat Hamza Ali Abbasi Sahib,
My heart sank when I saw the trailer of your upcoming movie, Jawani Phir Nahin Ani. And it sank even further to the bottom of the very pool you were seen emerging from, staring lustfully at bikini-clad women, being just as skimpily clothed yourself. Now, before you get any wrong ideas, let me clear the air that I’m not (God forbid) one of those liberals who believe in the shameful idea of living and letting live. My indignation with you stems out of our commonality; I’m just as holier-than-thou, morally superior and self-righteous as you are, and I write this letter to you in good spirit.
All I’m saying is that whatever you do in your personal life is your own business (in stark contrast to Ayesha Omar and Maria Wasti), but just be a little cautious while filming something millions of young, unpolluted minds are going to see.
My other complaint with you lies in your desertion of the police force and joining this ‘dirty’ industry. I mean, you could have easily stayed in the law enforcement agencies and checked nikkah naamahs (marriage contracts) of those engaging in utterly deplorable acts like chatting and sitting together in public spaces, and polluting innocent minds. I bet you’d have loved to give such debauch people a good thrashing! You would have been another Maya Khan in the making, Sir!
But I must confess, you undid some of the damage by starring in Waar and playing a good Muslim and Pakistani. Speaking of Waar, here is another woe – why English? The language of the infidels! And why have a sister who not only dares to leave her home to work alongside men (touches ears) but even dons western clothes?
Also, it would have been a lot better if you were to fight some Indians or Americans in that film in place of killing your fellow Muslims. But then again, your Facebook statuses tell me there’s only so much you can do, and I guess it’s not easy working in an industry filled with sinners that you totally and appropriately hate. There are the gay designers you hate but still have to wear their clothes, the besharam item number girls you hate but still have to romance, the venomous friends you love but who get you to film exposing scenes you hate, the Indian content you hate but your claim-to-fame serial started with an Indian song. How do you manage all this pressure? And hence, my letter of faith to you.
I’m sure you’ll soon start your exalted campaign of cleansing this industry of all the filth. Also, if I may, why don’t you do a programme of your own next Ramazan? What better celebrity than you for this noble cause? With you in the lead, we ought to be hearing good news again!
Your brother in faith (and hypocrisy)
To Mahira Khan from a Film Critic
My Dearest Mahira Khan,
I hope this letter finds you in as pink a health as your cheeks in the songs of Bin Roye. Unfolding my grievances, my wait for a pass to Bin Roye’s premiere never saw the sun’s supreme glory and I was brazenly denied entry to the venue. Had this been any other film critic, your film would get a bashing so intense that it would echo in all the Indian cinema halls where your film finally got the green light to be screened. Okay, pardon my sarcasm – I wrote a review for your film for one of the leading English dailies and gave it a whooping five stars, all because of you. I even wrote a review of your upcoming movie Raees and submitted it, only to receive some very cold looks (and words) from my editor, that fat ingrate! I was then told to submit it later since Raees’s release is still about a year away.
Talking about your films, why are you so insistent upon playing love interests of men you can so conveniently play the daughter of? I might not know a lot about film-making, the closest I got to the task was recording my daughter’s birthday on my phone (but the trick in our business is never to leak secrets; when I’m clueless about a film, I just put in a lot of complicated English words that the masses cannot comprehend and usually say something nasty about things like ‘cinematography’ and put in a line or two like ‘the script doesn’t have enough glue to keep it together’), but I know well enough to advise you against working with historical (literally speaking) men.
To be honest, I don’t even watch many films. My landing in this profession was an obscene follow up to my rejection as an investigative journalist. But hey, I’m not complaining. For you see, unlike investigative journalists, I never get any hate mail. Okay, to be honest, I don’t get any mail at all. But that’s alright.
Also, since you’re in touch with Shah Rukh Khan, could you please tell him not to take up roles that depict him as a lover in his 20’s? It’s funny. Also, tell him to never to take off his shirt. That’s funnier.
And next time you’re making a movie, make sure you’re putting in a full dhuaandaar (fiery) item number. That’s all we film critics care about. I gave Bol a sad one and a half star only, simply because of that amateur mujra in the film.
Remember, for when you’re in India, we will be watching you closely. To be honest, that’s about the only time we Pakistani critics do watch our celebrities closely – when they are in India! Also, excuse me as I take my leave and rush off to watch Bajrangi Bhaijaan because, then again, these are the only kinds of films we actually watch and understand!
A critic waiting for an invite to Ho Mann Jahaan.
To Reham Khan from an Insafian
Respected Reham Bhabi,
It gives me immense pleasure to write to you since you aren’t only our leader’s impeccable choice, but also the most popular national bhabi of our country – second only to Sania bhabi. I could have written this letter directly to your husband, the great Khan, but he doesn’t really pay heed to others’ words, even (or especially) if they happen to be his voters.
First of all, please congratulate Khan Sahib on winning the 1992 World Cup, for that’s the juncture where we seem to be stuck at – and which serves as a fulcrum for all our political debates. Winning the cup might have been team effort but he, and we, prefer to make it sound like a one-man story. Also congratulate him on the success story of Shaukat Khanum Memorial Hospital which stands as an emblem of all his leadership qualities. Now, haters may say running a hospital and a country are two different things but he, and we, beg to differ. Speaking of haters, it’s so shameful to see those low lives disrespecting a woman and making a pointless deal about your (lack of) degree. We, on the other hand, maintain a more austere code of conduct.
Yes, we might attack a leading politician’s daughter with elopement jokes but that’s solely in national interest. Talking about the nation, the last time I checked, Mr Khan was reiterating his beliefs about a dialogue with the Taliban. Now, haters may say that such statements, especially when the army is carrying out serious operations against them, may be demoralising and destructible but he, and we, think otherwise. But then, what else can you expect from people who can hire fake people to act as fake parents to fake shaheed children while our leader went to Army Public School (APS) in Peshawar? And who also look down upon our revolutionary dharna as being economically damaging? Ask DJ Butt about the economy bit! Our leader (and we) believe the dharna to be nothing less than a French Revolution in the making, only better.
Oh, and the most important thing! Your husband is very knowledgeable, with all those fancy quotes from dead people on Twitter. He, and we, believe him to be Pakistan’s Nelson Mandela, only better.
Also while you’re at it, can you please remind him that a place called Hazara also exists in Khyber-Pukhtunkhwa (K-P)? I’m not complaining, in the spirit of a true ‘Insafian’, but the presence of your husband’s government was only felt in the region when he threatened to throw the doctors out of the hospitals! What a furore it caused amongst those poor things, ha!
Oh, it has just started raining. And when it rains, the very decrepit roads of Abbottabad, the city I hail from, become deep ponds in a matter of minutes. But our leader, and we, believe what happens in K-P, stays in K-P (except for Peshawar’s beautification pictures which go up on Facebook)! What many don’t understand is that rain is a blessing in disguise. All of us just wait for Lahore’s underpasses to fill with water so we can crack Venice jokes!
Anyway, I’m off to post something offensive against some lifafa journalists, all in the name of national interest, of course!
Your dewar from Naya Pakistan
To Ayyan Ali from a Senior Journalist
Dear Beauty (Jail) Queen,
Let me start with an honest confession: I don’t really know who you are. You were completely non-existent for me a couple of months ago - before you got caught at the airport and all hell let loose. Yes, even though you did a few mobile company commercials, occasionally throwing your husband around but those did nothing to change your non-existent status. Yes, yes, I’ve heard that you are some top model or something, but what sort of a top model takes selfies with Waqar Zaka? I mean, sure, I have to admit that your selfie gave Komal Rizvi a run for her money, but really?!
Anyway, you might be wondering about the purpose of this open letter. Well, I don’t have any other way to contact you and something’s been piquing me so much that I just had to get it out of my system. It was nauseating to see my community treat you so harshly while you were in jail. A lot of stupid, reckless attention was given to you irrationally – and no one asked you any real questions.
Along the way, there also came reports of a murder associated with your case, but when my community had your attire and Adiala jail’s other inmates’ happiness to talk about, it deserved to be ignored. The social media’s dealing was just as absurd – each hearing of yours invited a number of status updates, drooping even to the level of posting heinous ultrasound pictures. I, as a senior journalist of this country, was overwhelmingly appalled by all this. I’m all for the freedom of the media but nothing is above the upholding of morals and professionalism. And I’m a sucker for accurate reporting – I just have to be direct and clear – no matter how much my questions offend my victim/guest.
Therefore, I write this letter to you to apologise for what my media community did to you. I will write another open letter to a leading film star of this country and his channel for airing your old interview this Eid – these people will do anything for ratings. Also, despite the excessive coverage, not one reporter asked you anything of importance. Not one! But I have one question - please answer honestly:
Are you actually related to Iman Ali?
Surely, the common surname and the rhyming first names cannot just be an uncanny coincidence? Also, may I have her mobile number? Thank you!
A senior journalist and analyst, ex-CEO of an obsolete group.
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