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

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

Saba Khalid August 04, 2016
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 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 necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


Alisha | 6 years ago | Reply Great article.
liberal-lubna-fromLahore | 6 years ago | Reply 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.
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