Newsmaker 2016: Arshad Khan

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    Shy Chai guy

    A modern day Cinderella story. A photographer was just walking about theitwaar bazaar in Islamabad and took a photograph of a Chaiwallah, uploaded it to her Instagram account and, five days later, it became viral, with legions of females swooning over him online.

    Soon, this fandom spilled over across the border. India, that is; the Afghans would have been nonplussed.

    All the TV channels wanted a soundbite out of him, and the shy Pashtun from Mardan would oblige. He won’t work in films because of ghairatissues, he had said. Later, he went back on that pledge. Perhaps it was Pashto channel AVT Khyber that got the most out of him, with many viewers not being able to place his particular dialect; some suggested he was an illegal immigrant, who, like many of his unfortunate brethren, has had to fake a domicile.

    From that place on the socio-economic ladder, Arshad Khan has made a quantum leap. He is working the ramps, has starred in a music video, will do a couple of films. One hopes he gets the most out of it before his fame fizzles out. He is not suave enough yet to coast by on his looks alone indefinitely and there will always, always be someone different (if not better) looking around the corner.

    There was some national-level soul searching on the issue as well. There was the obligatory spiel on how the fetish for fair skin is the colonial baggage left over by the British, which is drivel, really. There were references in local folklore to fairer skin since much before the British came in, unless it is the Afghans that we are calling colonialists.

    Some pointed out that Arshad’s appeal also comes from a visceral, base, petty humour (yes, humour) in the fact that here was a poor man much better looking than those much richer. Which, they said, was strange. Because, conversely, no one has ever looked at Mian Mansha and said, hey, how interesting, this guy is rich!