As of December 2016, 19% of Pakistani men smoke daily. That’s nearly 1/5 of 192 million. Over 38 million people in other words.
But only one cigarette appears to carry weight in Pakistan. The one superstar Mahira Khan smokes.
One would be living under a rock to have not seen last year’s Mahira Khan-Ranbir Kapoor ‘scandal’ unfold. All it took were some photos of the superstar sharing a cigarette with Bollywood heartthrob Ranbir Kapoor to stoke an international social media storm.
What baffles me is how Mahira is bashed for doing something millions of others do regularly. And just when I thought the Mahira-Ranbir ‘scandal’ had been consigned to the rubbish bin of history, I came across another video of the actor enjoying a cigarette and getting bashed for it.
The now viral video features Mahira smoking backstage at the Lux Style Awards. And of course, this was all that was needed to make Mahira trend on Twitter.
The first (now deleted) tweet that caught my attention read, “Mahira Khan caught smoking again. 3 times divorced, chain smoker and corrupt women are our celebrities and role models nowadays. We need to raise our standards a bit. Shame.”
The particular post was enough to make me not want to read the rest. And I knew that this time, I would not be able to just sit back and watch. Here are some stray thoughts that crossed my mind after seeing the tweet.
1. Get your facts right before you start ridiculing someone. Mahira has only been divorced once and wears it as a badge.
2. What is it about a woman smoking that threatens our collective ghairat?
3. What about all the times Mahira has represented Pakistan in a befitting manner? Are we this fickle that all it takes are a few drags to forget one’s achievements? Who cares about an actor winning laurels the world over right? Lebanon and the United Kingdom can go to hell. What matters is that she enjoys a cigarette or two, if you trust the average troll.
4. This is directed towards that ‘someone’ who recorded the video. Kudos! What a feat! Such award-worthy content you managed to generate. You truly deserve all the awards, honours and recognition. A Bollywood debut with Shahrukh Khan won’t hurt either.
People in Pakistan need to give Mahira a break. Actually, let me rephrase: give women a break. There are more pressing issues than women smoking. Also, for the record, many women smoke — apologetically. Sorry to burst your little bubble.
While Mahira may be “public property” she cannot be held accountable for anything but her work. Nothing provides one the license to shame her kin or comment on her personal life.
I remember writing about how the Humsfar star won an award in Beirut just a few months ago. It was a proud moment for all of us, starved as we are of international recognition.
And of course there were comments on Mahira’s “revealing dress’. Did that stop her? Neither will this video.
For Mahira: You do you, honey. You do you!
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