‘Love for Fawad Khan vs. Jihad against Love’

This article by Charu Gupta originally appeared here http://kafila.org/2014/11/03/love-for-fawad-khan-vs-jihad-against-love-charu-gupta/  and here http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/our-love-for-fawad/

Fawad Khan, a Pakistani Muslim male, has become an endearing and enduring metaphor, a fascinating icon, the new heartthrob and fantasy of Indian girls and women. Zindagi, an Indian entertainment television channel, launched just four months ago, which telecasts cross-border serials from Pakistan, has captured our imagination. The central idiom of the channel has proven to be Fawad Khan, who besides having looks to die for and undeniable charm, portrays a sensitive, emotional and mature lover and husband in top of the charts serials Zindagi Gulzar Haiand Humsafar. He has entered Bollywood through the film Khubsoorat. Fan mails from women have poured over websites. One of them says: ‘You have to be living under a rock if you have not heard of Fawad Khan yet…. Did your mother just tell you she has a crush on Fawad Khan? Your female colleagues are probably head-over-heels in love with him too…. Women maybe have more photos of Fawad Khan in their phones than their own.’ Describing the film Khubsoorat,Shobha De articulates: ‘So, who is the real “khubsoorat” in the movie….Any guesses? You’ve got it! It’s a slim, bearded bloke from across the border…. He’s as yummy as those irresistible Lahori kebabs, and desi ladies want him.’ Continue reading


Sartoriality and the Pakistani Women’s identity

Umar's collection was all about dare to bare the cold shoulder

( picture courtesy Dawn -Images)

Needless to say clothes play an essential role in the construction and interpretation of identity. Like elsewhere in the world a Pakistani women’s identity is unwittingly connected to the sartorial choices she makes. Clothing choices are one of the ways in which women try to pin down meaning, and control both presentations and interpretations of selfhood. Clothing can reflect individual religious views, a person’s location in the society, peer influence and their worldview in a generalized sort of a way. In this regard a Pakistani woman should have the right to wear whatever she wants, with the possibility of dress choices including jeans or hijabs. But more importantly she should also have the choice not to wear either of these. Continue reading

‘Leisurely Islam’


Mona Harb and Lara Deeb. Leisurely Islam: Negotiating Geography and Morality in Shi’ite South Beirut. Princeton University Press. 2013


In Leisurely Islam Harb and Deeb highlight myriad ways in which ‘Islam and fun  come together’ in the  predominantly Shi’i community of Dahiya. This emerging relationship between Islam and leisure, which the authors describe as the ‘happy coexistence of fun and piety’ (14) , is one which has not been explored overly meaningfully in academic analysis on the Middle East. By employing novel categories such as ‘moral leisure’, ‘Islamic fun’, ‘pious entertainment’, Deeb and Harb provide new frames of analysis through which to understand the intersection of politics, piety and morality in the Southern Lebanese suburb of Dahiya. In this context the regional comparisons the authors make with Egypt and Iran are very useful to highlight the ways in which the context differs immensely in Lebanon. Continue reading

‘ The Marvellous Clouds’

John Durham Peters.The Marvelous Clouds: Towards the Philosophy of Elemental Media. University of Chicago Press. 2015

One of the singular contribution that ‘The Marvelous Clouds’ makes with its multifaceted critique and discussion is the opportunity that it gives one to think about media in unconventional ways and in a broader holistic sense. Foremost among the things that stand out in his analysis is the novel language John Durham Peters uses to describe the media as ‘agencies of order’, ‘containers of possibility’, ‘ensembles of natural element and human craft’, ‘civilizational ordering devices’ , a ‘thing in the middle’  or as an ‘infrastructure of being’. Peters does not seem to have much patience with the traditional categories, binaries and distinctions, and his analysis encourages an outlook that views various modes and spheres of existence as all being ‘media’. Continue reading