by Ashtar Haideri
The writer is an undergraduate student at LUMS and has a keen interest in Pakistani Cinema.
The Pakistani film industry doesn’t have a lot to be proud of. Our neighbours have overshadowed us in every which possible way. From celebrity power to international accolades, extravagantly choreographed dance sequences to technological prowess, Bollywood is capturing revenue and people’s hearts across the globe. Any comparison with our own local cinema, the originally titled “Lollywood,” would just insult to injury when Bollywood celebrities are rubbing shoulders with their Hollywood counterparts. But all hope is not lost. We do have one diamond in the dust, or as the artist herself would characteristically say “Mitti mein heera” in the form of Meera. Yes, I know what you’re thinking. Meera? That same woman who has inspired legions of memes and parodies for her notoriously stilted English? Yes, the same one. But what us Pakistanis, ever the self-loathing critics that we are, fail to celebrate is the depth of knowledge hidden within the seemingly vain and superfluous utterances of our never-aging filum star. Here are 5 Meera-isms that are so deceptively insightful and philosophically deep, that only the likes of Nietsche and Heidegger could do justice to the profound wisdom hidden within them.
5. “Abhi mein 30 kay under under hoon”
Meera recently received attention for this response to a Geo reporter inquiring about her age. Although her age (along with those of other Lollywood actresses obsessed with calling their colleagues “seniors” in a derogatory sense) remains a source of mystery, even the most conservative estimates would put her at being 37 at the time of this answer. Could it be possible then that Meera has stumbled upon that famed object of ancient origin and reknown, the Philosopher’s Stone, that grants its possessor eternal life and perpetual youth? Meera’s lips say yes, but her increasingly botox-injected face says no. Only another passing year and another innocent response from Meera along these same lines will definitively resolve this mystery.
4. “Same to you”
Before Meera uttered these words, only talking parrots and hollow caves would predictably send back any words said to them back their sender without processing their meaning first. But Meera, being the ever thoughtful and considerate actress, said this in a reply to a reporter who had just said “Happy Birthday Meera!”What could be the hidden significance of Meera’s returned greeting? Is it possible that she was privy to the reporter himself having a birthday on the same day, or has she come up with a genius reply to any English statement she does not fully understand? Either way, Meera must be thanked for expanding the limits of our routine vocabulary. Now there is no reason why only the person with the birthday must hoard all birthday greetings for themselves: the person wishing them can join in on the fun too. Whether that person was also born on the same day, however, is a trivial detail in Meera’s endlessly gleeful philosophy.
3. “I was thinking maybe you are a combination…”
Ah, musings and observations – the origin of all philosophy. Here Meera is awestruck by the beauty of one of the contestants standing before her for judgment on a modeling pageant show. Some of her fellow panelists commented on the “exotic” looks of the participant, which lead her to reveal that her family hails from India. That doesn’t stop Meera from probing even further on the origins of her ancestry, however, stepping clearly into the territory of evolutionary biology. “Maybe your mummy is from Pakistan and your father is from Africa…” she blurts out to the embarrassed model in the making. But anyone with the requisite intellectual development realizes the depth of Meera’s observation – Meera is positing her own belief in the duality of nature and the combination of the spirit and matter. Well done, Meera. Aristotle would be proud, even if all notions of political correctness are thrown out of the window in the process.
2. “Everybody dies.”
Meera has now entered that awful stage of the philosopher’s life where the drudgery of existence seeps into the conscience of the questioning mind. Meera made this comment as a helpful reminder to her feuding husband who was continually issuing her threats of legal action and demanding his property back from a marriage she was denying the very existence of publicly. Despite photographic and documentary evidence to the contrary, Meera remained stoic towards the pressing anger of her then husband Atiq-ur-Rehman. In one particularly preachy Blackberry message since leaked to the media, Meera tells her husband to “reed the quran carefully” and to uphold her rights “bing a woman” because “Islam and quran sayed and world role [rule].” All very compelling arguments, but nothing strikes quite as boldly like the existential threat Meera issues in those two words.
1. “We will be…the back?”
Crossing into even bleaker territory, Meera is now in the darkest stages of her philosophical inquiry, tackling the central questions of existence that have pricked the philosophers’ and sages’ minds since time immemorial – the question of after-life. In fact, the whole context of Meera’s question could be said to encapsulate the struggle of life in one very short video leaked online, where Meera is preparing for an interview with famed fashion photographer Tapu Javeri and is clearly distressed by the prospect of having to read English despite the paper in front of her and the microphone in her ear guiding her what to say. At one point, our intrepid philosopher-actress almost gives up when she says “Mein bohat lost ho rahi hoon…Mere se kuch bhi nahi yaad ho raha” and rehearsing her scripted lines in such a rote fashion as to make twograders learning their multiplication tables envious. “Nahi ho ga much say please…Mujhay to rona aa raha hai mein to bhaag jao gi dar ke…” We’ve all been there, Meera. In such times when we face our greatest obstacles are we required to display our greatest strength. But should the doom and gloom conquer you, you can always revert to bringing back that missing dose of joy in your life and wish every random passer-by a Happy Birthday. (The comic strip has been taken from an unknown source and used without permission).