Mathira: Lets talk about love

Published: February 13, 2011
Single, with Valentine’s Day around the corner, Mathira remains unfazed. PHOTO: NEFER SEHGAL

Single, with Valentine’s Day around the corner, Mathira remains unfazed. PHOTO: NEFER SEHGAL

She believes that the worst quality one can have is too much patience, which she possesses. PHOTO: NEFER SEHGAL Single, with Valentine’s Day around the corner, Mathira remains unfazed. PHOTO: NEFER SEHGAL Despite her tough veneer, Mathira wants a husband who is assertive. PHOTO: NEFER SEHGAL

I discovered Mathira. Way before some X-rated telephone calls  catapulted her to fame, before “Gujji gujji muah” became a popular catchphrase, before people barely knew what VibeTV was. I discovered  Mathira.

Channel surfing on one idle night, I came across a show  featuring a striking young woman who dished out love advice to despairing callers… and I was hooked. I was soon posting  Mathira links on Facebook, uploading videos of her on YouTube and making my friends tune into her show. And I watched with pride as this once-unknown anchor shot to the fame she so rightly deserved…

So when my editor tells me to interview the firecracker, that too so close to Valentine’s Day, I get ready to dazzle her — I wear my best shirt and splash on some new cologne. I’m about to meet the beautiful, daring woman who touches thousands of hearts every day. This is my chance!

I do a double take when I catch my first glimpse of Mathira, entering the Vibe office apologising profusely for having made me wait all of five minutes. Sans makeup and dressed down in an oversized yellow shirt and black pants, one would be hard-pressed to recognise “Love Indicator’s” famous host.

I feel like I know her already, but can’t wait for this brazen femme fatale to reveal some of her deepest, darkest secrets. She doesn’t disappoint. “My love life is very complicated,” she says intriguingly. “I do love someone, but I believe you don’t always have to go express your emotions to the person you love. Being happy for a loved one, even if you are distant, is also love.”

All very profound, but hardly promising. What I want to know is: What’s her ‘relationship status’? Is she single? Is she looking?

When pressed, Mathira falls back on the safe old standby, “I am in a relationship with my work. This is the right time for me to concentrate on my professional life. I’m single.”

Great. That means I still stand a chance. Now if only I could get to know more about her past.

Who was her first crush? “My first love was quite fun but as they say jitna jannat dikhata hai utna jahanam bhi dikhata hai so after I went through that, I said no, never again!”

Single, with Valentine’s Day around the corner, Mathira remains unfazed: “The great thing about Valentine’s Day is that I get a lot of gifts, from 10-rupee bangles to really fancy stuff. This is so much better than when I was in a relationship — at that time the day would inevitably get spoilt and I’d be crying by the end of it.”

No wonder her ideal Valentine’s Day celebrations do not involve big plans. “My ideal Valentine’s Day would be me and the guy I like, in a nice, quiet, candle-lit room. Sweet music would be playing on the stereo and we’d have some homemade dinner, maybe two scrambled eggs.” Very do-able.

Less do-able is being the Heathcliff that Mathira has in her mind as her ideal guy. Despite her tough veneer, Mathira wants a husband who is assertive and her notions of being subservient to her husband are fairly typical — fine by me, I’m a fairly typical Pakistani guy myself. “My ideal partner should be mature, and at least five to six years older than me,” she says, and I do some quick mental math. “He should be gutsy and demanding or he’ll become a doormat. He has to be so strong that when he walks into a room he creates an immediate impression. With a beautiful girl like me by his side, he needs to know how to protect his woman like a shield. Hundreds of guys will be looking at me and I don’t want to be just eye candy. He faces a big task — the task of being with me.”

But until Mr Perfect comes along, Mathira can take care of herself — she carries pepper spray and pocket knives for protection and isn’t afraid to use them. “I have a black belt,” she says. “When I got my first salary, I decided to buy myself something. I had taken a rickshaw to the bank and when I was getting off a man snatched my purse and started to run away. At first, I didn’t know what to do, but then I flung my heels over my shoulder and ran after him. And I remember that day I wore a miniskirt and I was still running and jumping. When I finally got hold of the man, I hit him with a rock. He said he needed money so I felt really bad and later gave him Rs1,000.”

She displays the same mixture of gutsiness and sympathy to callers on “Love Indicator”. The show’s raciness is unprecedented and for that very reason, irresistible. Even those who tut-tut and shake their heads can’t say that they haven’t been titillated by the late-night show. Time delay switches and censorship guidelines seem to fall by the wayside when it comes to this show and Mathira has handled some decidedly dirty calls with aplomb.

“When I am on the show, I believe I am open to all forms of criticism. People say all sorts of things and I say koi baat nahi. Sometimes it gets too much and I start crying on-screen but I then shake it off and carry on with the programme. If someone swears at me, it just shows what family background that person has. Mera gunnah meray sar pay hai. Mera khuda janta hai mein kya karti hoon kya nahi karti. For God’s sake don’t blame people. Don’t label people. Not everyone is the same.”

She believes that the worst quality one can have is too much patience, which she possesses. “Having too much patience is not good. I cannot shout at anyone, I end up crying.”

With over a hundred calls on her show every day, she certainly has struck a connection with viewers. Is her social life just as happening? “A thousand people say they know Mathira. So many people come talk to me but when I leave the room, the same people start criticising me,” she says. So yes I have a thousand friends, but if you ask me about my very close friends, that number will come down to two or three.” She also says that although she used to be a bit of a “party-freak”, she has now become more of a homebody. “Hazar log hazar baatain so I don’t socialise much anymore.”

With three different shows, including a sports show, a cooking show and a yoga show, Mathira barely has time to socialise… unfortunately for me, it seems. Her mentor and boss Babar Tajammul compares her to Priyanka Chopra, and says Mathira has done wonders for the Pakistani television industry. “Top government officials monitoring the media have personally told me that they tried their best to curb the popularity of Indian TV channels in Pakistan,” he says, “but it is Mathira who struck a chord with Pakistani viewers and made them refocus their attention on local media. We are proud of creating a brand like her.”

Her co-host on her Geo Super sports show, Khurram, says: “There is the occasional ‘Oh my God you work with Mathira’ but she is actually a lot of fun to work with – well-informed, professional and punctual. Above all, she knows what people want.”

And she has high-profile admirers. “She is one of the gutsiest girls on late night TV,” says fashion photographer Tapu Javeri. “None of us have the guts to take live callers without a delay. She is quick on her feet and it’s nice to have her on TV. I’m a fan.”

Stand-up comedian Sami Shah, who shared the stage with her at the last Lux Style Awards, says: “Every guy at the show who knew me even the slightest bit was after me to introduce them to her. That is Mathira’s power. She is controversial, hated, judged and critiqued – she may even represent everything you think is wrong with the country – but you still want to say you met her. That is why she wins.”

So Mathira is an independent woman who remains unfazed by anything said or done against her. She deals with calls questioning her character, and threats to her life… But there are days when it all gets too much, and this is how she deals with the stress when she goes home: “I get under a blanket and I cry for an hour. Then I go to sleep.” Mathira looks up and smiles. “After all, tomorrow is a bright new day!”

Mathira on Bollywood

“I would love to go to Bollywood, but not to ‘massage’ someone. I wouldn’t play any vulgar roles. Regarding Veena, I would like to ask Pakistan — when her nude pictures showed up on the internet and she was in Pakistan, where was everyone then? Why didn’t anyone react then? Now people are reacting at the wrong time for the wrong reasons. The nude pictures are worse than what happened in India. She made a mistake, maybe she wanted to stay in and become Rakhi Sawant Part Two and played her cards wrong, but I would like to tell people kay theek hai yar ghalati ho gai, humari bandi hai woh. Let’s forgive her. There are a hundred ways of entertaining. She was wearing perfect clothes [in “Big Boss 4”] and I loved her dressing but I didn’t like the way she was behaving. Jab pyar ka bhoot ata hai toh bohat kuch barbad kar kay jata hai. To her a little message would be: just say you’re sorry.”

Mathira on ‘Love Indicator’ and the concept behind it

“I did not start off with the aim of solving people’s problems. It just happened, one person called in and asked something and I gave him my advice which turned out to be good. That is how the calls started rolling in. And not every other guy calls in to share issues. Some tell me their problems off screen some talk to me on screen. The show is still a lot of fun. Mera programme dhabay tak mein chalta hai. It is just a normal concept where, despite all that is going on in Pakistan there is a place where a girl can sit wearing normal clothes. My concept is that I am a young girl and I want to sit the way I am. Meri jo personality hai mein woh badloun gi nahi.”

Mathira on rumours and criticism

“Actresses in Lollywood flaunt their stomachs and their legs, uss pay koi kuch nahi bolta. But when one girl wears normal tops and jeans everyone sits down to criticise her. When someone becomes succesful, people don’t want to compete with them on fair grounds — they want to sabotage them and halt their progress to feel better about themselves. This is the problem with Paksitani society. I believe if you have to move forward, you cannot do that by bringing anyone else down.”

Mathira on a woman’s role in a relationship

“Aik aurat ki hazar responsibilities hoti hain. A woman should learn to compromise but that does not mean she should switch off her feelings. Before getting married, aap ko apnay banday kay samnay har cheez crystal clear rakhna chahiay. You should not change for the man. Trust and openness are more important than love. If a relationship fails it fails because of both the parties involved. Before being husband and wife or Romeo and Juliet, you have to be best friends. There is a certain age in everyone’s life when their sexual desire dries up… I mean, after the age of 50, many marriages fail. So to avoid this you have to be best friends. You have to look at a relationship in the long run not in the short run.”

Mathira on her perfect wedding

“I do not want a grand wedding with a lot of people around. I want to get married on a beach, in a long flowy gown — something really Hawaiian. After the wedding I want to have a party and then go sailing somewhere far away.”

Mathira on men

“I don’t believe ‘all men are dogs’. I believe when you are a wife, in the first week you should learn how to leash your dog and if you fail then I am sorry your dog will go wild and if you manage it, fine he is with you. A dog is a man’s best friend and can also bite the man. It depends on how you treat it.”

Mathira on husbands

“I believe even if a man cheats on his wife, there is some fault in the woman. She is either not compromising or she is not being open with him. I believe that a woman can do wonders. And if a woman wants to sit like a garbage truck jis tarha humari khawateen karti hain ‘Oh shaadi ho gai mein nahi kuch kar rahi, oh bachay ho gai mein wazan bhi nahi hata rahi choro’ tau mard kya karay ga. Men like change. A woman should be willing to change.”

Mathira’s words of wisdom

  • Her message for Valentine’s Day: “Go ahead speak your heart to the right person in the right way at the right time. And if it is a no, don’t be sad — just back off.”
  • Worst rumour she’s heard about herself: “That I’m not a ‘good girl’… that I take money for one night.”
  • What she’d do if she became prime minister: “I will create more employment opportunities because unemployment creates criminals.”
  • What she’d legalise if she became prime minister: “Freedom to wear what you want, within a limit. The freedom of wearing what you want to wear starts at your own house and in front of your own parents.”

Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, February 13th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (30)

  • Omar Khan
    Feb 13, 2011 - 4:11PM

    Very well written Mr.chaudry. I do think the poor girl has had a really tough time with the phone calls and the rumors.

    She is quite entertaining though. Recommend

  • Feb 13, 2011 - 4:19PM

    She can wear whatever she wants to. But I just thought she was weird and this interview has further reinforced my opinion.Recommend

  • Doc
    Feb 13, 2011 - 5:46PM

    Rolay well done!Recommend

  • Mr.A
    Feb 13, 2011 - 6:07PM

    She’s a cute little innocent girl from inside….hey Mathira don’t be afraid of the rumours…..and ya aacha kerti ho jo roo leti ho…dil halka hoo jata hai…..and ya ronay k baad tumhari ankhain or khoobsoorat lagti hoon gi…..Recommend

  • tanvir ahmed
    Feb 13, 2011 - 6:11PM

    well mathira,it’s the assertive & demanding husbands who then assert themselves by beating their wives when they don’t agree with everything prince charming has to say or when they don’t validate his opinions.

    The more subservient the wives the more power the husband has in his mind to have affairs with other women because afterall if the wife wanted assertive she’ll get assertive & if she behaves submissively then that is sonay pay shohaga.

    If girls stop saying they want demanding,domineering,assertive husbands then the men will start behaving a little better but if you’re demanding someone to be domineering & possessive then the girl is asking for a very tough life.Recommend

  • saleem akhtar
    Feb 13, 2011 - 6:33PM

    She sounds like the old aunties who tell girls to “compromise” when their husbands beat them physically or sleep around with other women.

    She should have given a better message to girls of being self dependent & pursuing higher educaction & careers so they don’t have to be at the mercy of their husbands all their lives.Recommend

  • Sick of it...!!!!
    Feb 13, 2011 - 6:58PM

    We have MATHIRAs , MEERAS,VEENAs, NARGISSES and all the other daring\baring ones….

    But what about Nobel laureates, Poets, Writers, Engineers and Doctors of international standards…….!!!!!! Answer will be a big empty face with nothing to say………

    See where nation is going….!!!!

    A dare to bare girl with all x-rated gossips and personna is taken so seriously that a full and long interview is published in EXPRESS ….!!! Such a bad mentality condition of readers and interviewers alike….

    Are these girls the true role models…?? or are women like Hazrat Ayeha, Hazrat Khadija, or even for that matter Madam Curie , Florence Nightingale……..???

    Stop glorifying talentless, immoral women and give importance to real stars …even for that matter Naseem Hameed (100 m winner) would have been a better choice for such a long interview and centre space on Sunday……………….!!!!!!!!

    Call me Conservative Call me old…….I am what I am…I hate seeing our values going down the drain…….

    Lastly if she warns on-air that immoral calls will be cut then no one will do it…and even editors know how to cut such calls…so its all but a pre planned policy to make channel popular…..just like a less successful actress bares it all in films…VIBE is doing it like this to gain CHEAP popularity….and dress code is also important…. you are living in Pakistan even though she might be daughter of a South African………..!!!!!!!! Do at Rome as the Romans do…..Recommend

  • muhammad adeel ansari
    Feb 13, 2011 - 7:14PM

    women like asma jehangir,mukhtara mai,hina jilani are a much much better role model for our girls.They fought bravely against the status quo,against the women oppressive attitudes,laws,practices & rituals & showed that pakistani women can play a constructive role in pakistani society when they challenge the discriminatory & unfair roles women are traditionally supposed to play in our society.

    mathira on the other hand in this interview by telling women to be submissive & compromise while at the same time wanting domineering,assertive older men as husbands is sending a highly regressive message to the girls of today.

    She’s indirectly encouraging women to behave live the women of the stone age as docile,submissive,inferior,second class human beings while encouraging the men to behave as superior beings & be dominating disregarding the wants of the women.

    The aggressive,dominant men make all the decisions for their wives or sisters,the women who don’t demand & fight for a share in the decision making are the ones who get treated like trash their entire lives.

    It’s time that our girls started to be assertive & financially independent by having careers in their lives instead of waiting for their husbands to do everything for them. Recommend

  • Bemused because I'm bored
    Feb 13, 2011 - 8:29PM

    She was wearing a miniskirt in a rickshaw to go to a bank in Pakistan?! Followed by a mid-street altercation, a rock to the head of the offendor and then a display of altruism! I don’t buy it.

    The woman is an obvious exhibitionist in the pursuit of fame and in that exhibitionism fabricates her own reality. She describes the concept of Love Indicator as a normal show where a normal girl can sit wearing normal clothes. I guess normal is open to interpretation.

    If anything, Mathira can be credited with exposing our own inconsistencies. We rush to judge, and we rush to watch, and then we rush right back to judge. I think Khurram, her co-host on the sports show summed it up best “Above all, she knows what people want.”Recommend

  • Feb 13, 2011 - 9:39PM

    Shabash Rolay well done!! Chaah geya hai :DRecommend

  • Concerned, Omega
    Feb 13, 2011 - 10:18PM

    I don’t even think shes all that hot. Looks like an addict in her 30’s.Recommend

  • kareena kapoor
    Feb 13, 2011 - 11:13PM

    I love your writings Mr Hassan Chaudhary. You just are not the best looking but also a great, great writer!! mwah!!Recommend

  • Maulana Diesel
    Feb 14, 2011 - 6:50AM

    My role model is Masi Musaibatain of Kaliyaan. She never took any crap from uncle Sargam and at the same time used to take care of Noni Paa.Recommend

  • Feb 14, 2011 - 10:11AM

    matahira is a great girl. I have met her in person. she is just awesome to talk with.Recommend

  • Feb 14, 2011 - 10:30AM

    Well my friends i have a different opinion about the phone calls, because as every body knows that producer can censor that calls but he won’t why? Because of ratings thats why..!! so please stop defending herRecommend

  • A. Ahmed
    Feb 14, 2011 - 10:41AM

    Very very gutsy…I’m impressed!!! Recommend

  • discostu
    Feb 14, 2011 - 1:55PM

    Just wanted to respond to the person wondering about Pakistan’s nobel laureates. The obvious religious ferocity in your post fills me with joy as I write this. Pakistan has produced a nobel winner, however, and I don’t mean to judge, the religious fanatics, the guardians of the faith in Pakistan, decided that he was a non-muslim. This obviously also meant that he was unfit to be a human being. He left Pakistan in disgrace. You can read more here:

    Let people live, if it upsets you, change the channel! Can you imagine what this country will come too, once everyone decides not to change the channel and get a gun? The silent majority will only take so much.

    Viva la revolution!Recommend

  • Umar Khan
    Feb 14, 2011 - 6:44PM

    I’m sorry miss Mathira, but you seem confused, just like most young muslim girls in our society.

    Your statemetent “Freedom to wear what you want, within a limit. The freedom of wearing what you want to wear starts at your own house and in front of your own parents.” is self contradictory.
    First, one doesn’t have freedom to wear what they want if there is a limit.

    Secondly, parents might be very open to western dressing or so conservative to not allowing girl anything but full burka. However, if you are appearing on TV, then you may be seen and heard by any Pakistani national with access to the channel. This may include children, so you have to take into account the dressing recommended by our religion, and accepted by the whole society.Recommend

  • khan
    Feb 14, 2011 - 8:23PM

    why should she dress recommended by others if she comes on tv? noone is forcing anyone to wear what she does. she has every right to wear what she wants whether its a burka or a bikini. @Umar Khan: Recommend

  • Hummayun Javed
    Feb 14, 2011 - 11:28PM

    hahah, that’s a very long articleRecommend

  • Kaif shah
    Feb 15, 2011 - 10:16AM

    thats too much boring…………….Recommend

  • Jeddy
    Feb 15, 2011 - 12:55PM

    More power to you Mathira! Only the corrupt want everything hidden – in that they can get away with their crimes. Criminals like dressing up or adorning a beards, it is very important for them – in this way they imagine that people will think they are respectable. Religion has always been interpreted in the manner to exercise to deny freedom. There can be no bigger crime than to use religion as a means of control and unbridled power.Recommend

  • Umar Khan
    Feb 15, 2011 - 3:16PM

    @khan Are you blind or deaf? Did you not read my comments properly?
    “However, if you are appearing on TV, then you may be seen and heard by any Pakistani national with access to the channel. This may include children”
    If one wants to wear bikini on TV then American TV programmes like bay watch would be more suitable than a Pakistan call in chat show :-)Recommend

  • Jan
    Feb 15, 2011 - 4:01PM

    Let her do what she wants!
    She’s both brave and an attention seeker.
    She’s pretending (a faker) and also real.

    If you do not like her, then stop watching her. Ignore her.
    Why can’t we just grow up and self-censor our own lives.
    Live and let live.

    Her is more Mathira: a more subdued profile, but more about her background.

    And try this, read if you want, and if you do not, then just do something else and mind your own business. It’s not that hard. Recommend

  • AN
    Feb 16, 2011 - 2:24AM

    Love you Mathira!
    Don’t care about the haters.Recommend

  • U.A
    Feb 27, 2011 - 11:04PM

    After watching programs featuring liberated and independent females like mathira, i often wonder that was this the reason our fore fathers struggled for independence so they could promote their culture and free practice the preachings of islam?Recommend

  • Abdul
    Mar 6, 2011 - 10:23AM

    Mathira you are breath of fresh air in this socially/sexually repressed and violent country. Please dont ever let them change you. Thank you for existing, you give us hope. Recommend

  • Ayesha Arif Ahmed
    Mar 6, 2011 - 10:32AM

    Mathira you are the only normal young person in Pakistan. The way you are is how young people are every where in the world.
    The reason Pakistan has so many problems is that its one of the only places in the world where young people are not supposed to dance with each other or fall in love. When you outlaw normality in the name of religion, it is no surprise that people will be frustrated and perverted and aggressive and look at women as either prostitutes or angels.
    We are neither prostitutes nor angels, we are just women!Recommend

  • truth
    Apr 10, 2011 - 12:53AM

    for all those supporting her for being the bastion of openess in a so called narrow minded society…..chk out her (april) latest pics (i dare not say the words out of morality) on youtube or wateva and judge for urself …
    i rest everybody’s case…..kapiche
    p.s no wonder shes not anymore on the channel Recommend

  • Umar Khan
    Apr 11, 2011 - 5:17PM

    @truth What pics?Recommend

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