Monday, 15 August, 2022
HomeOpinionLetter From PakistanNew Chand Nawabs reporting from the ground in Pakistan—from PM’s bath tub...

New Chand Nawabs reporting from the ground in Pakistan—from PM’s bath tub to donkey heights

Whoever taught us that reporters need not be part of the action, didn’t see the talent pool in Pakistan.

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You’d remember them not only because of the news stories they told you, but for the depths they went to and the risks they took for you. Notwithstanding the criticism of unconventional television reporting, these blokes suffered, and all for you. Riding a horse cart to explain petrol price hike; lying in an empty hot tub to tell you about the affluent lifestyle of prime ministers of Pakistan; showing up on India-Pakistan border and threatening the enemy with tomato atom bombs; hard-hitting interviews with buffaloes; dancing without a reason while reporting and most importantly, live reporting their own wedding without taking a day off. These story tellers will remain etched in our memory, for we can’t ever (un)see their magic even if we dared to.

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Chand Nawab—from Karachi

Whoever said life is full of chances probably never saw Chand Nawab report on that fateful day. He wouldn’t leave anything to chance. Perfection is his second name. That is the reason why he became a rage with his special Eid package Karachi se. Any reporter would have given up after 20 seconds of recording on a busy Karachi railway platform bridge that saw frequent disruptions from passers-by. But not Chand Nawab, who was trying to capture the flavour of frenzy festivities. Not to forget the moving train in the background, which was essential for the package. Else who’d believe that it ever happened?

The uncut blooper version became viral and Nawab’s dedicated reporting was even enacted by Nawazuddin Siddiqi in Bajrangi Bhaijaan. Chand Nawab today is a household name. Now, if he reports on Pakistan President Arif Alvi playing golf in Karachi or on the controversy surrounding opposition leader’s comment on “paan-chewing Karanchi”, the news is followed with enthusiasm — by Nawab fans. He will fumble his lines several times and then eat his paan humbly. Last week, Nawab’s Karachi se log apno mein Eid manane video made a comeback with him announcing that he is putting up his video for auction as NFT. Thirteen years and still going strong.

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King of buffalo reporting

Going strong with his creative reporting is Amin Hafeez. When Hafeez covers the rain, he does bhangra with Lahoris who can be seen enjoying the awesome mausam near the canal. He also dances to the tune of paanch su paanch su (Rs500) while reporting on the ‘plight’ of cricket fans who can’t buy economy tickets. Recipient of the ‘President’s Pride of Performance’ award, Amin Hafeez is hailed as Chand Nawab 2.0. He has a special gift that no journalist in the world has; he can communicate with buffaloes, sheep, goats and then enthral us with their rather critical worldview. What better way can there be to highlight the growing population of donkeys in Pakistan than to sign off while sitting on the animal and enact the great fall?

Petrol price hike? No worries, Hafeez would ride a horse to work. When the government sprang into action over a wedding ceremony at Lahore Fort, Hafeez was seen dressed as Mughal King with a sword. The royal costume and other accessories are available to tourists and visitors at the Lahore Fort. The reporter promised strict action against those using the heritage site for private events. Even a real king would have been scared of Amin.

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Tauba Tauba, India

Nothing has scared India more than the tauba tauba reporter Qaiser Khokhar who has not only vowed to take revenge from both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi by throwing tomatoes at them. He is the one who changed the course of history by introducing tamatar atom bombs. This was when India had stopped tomato exports to Pakistan. He said “Pakistan can live without tomatoes.” Like how? Khokhar even reached the India-Pakistan border to report that Lahoris were ready for war and India should say TAUBA TABUA; yes his channel ran the ticker in caps.

Worried as hell, Khokhar first made a splash when PM Modi visited former PM Nawaz Sharif in Lahore. Khokhar was flabbergasted at how Modi and his team had come to Pakistan visa-free. We are a sovereign country, how can this happen, he pleaded. That burst him into tauba tauba and left the rest of us in splits. Another time Khokhar had sleepless nights was when Kulbhushan Jhadav showed up at the foreign office to meet his mother and wife, Khokhar couldn’t understand why Jhadav didn’t wear prisoner uniform. Tomatoes are not his only worry. When food inflation became uncontrollable, Khokhar reported a Tauba Tauba ginger story, prices of which had touched Rs 520/kg.

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Reporting from the PM’s tub

Next is Wajahat Khan. When the Imran Khan government came to power in 2018, there was a lot of talk around austerity. Day in day out, we heard how the past rulers had plundered public wealth and lived extravagantly, all on the taxpayers’ money. On a visit to the Prime Minister’s House, Wajahat Khan showed us around the sprawling property that had offices, bedrooms, a grand swimming pool, gym, mini zoo and a mini petrol pump and numerous other amenities that leaders supposedly running the country enjoy. Drawing inspiration from an Indian counterpart who had jumped into a bathtub to enact Bollywood actor Sri Devi’s death, the Pakistani show host also lay in a twin hot tub, informing the viewers that it was “prime minister’s hot tub”. We thank him for explaining. Had he not said so, viewers might have mistaken it for the army chief’s tub. He did it all, from milking the buffaloes to sitting in the prime minister’s chair — same vibe as the Taliban in Ashraf Ghani’s presidential palace.

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Monsoon brings out the best in them

Monsoon is a genre on its own. It challenges these TV superheroes to bring out the weirdest in them. The idea is to stay ahead of competition. On a rainy day in Lahore, a reporter got hold of a kid’s inflatable swimming pool and arranged his own pool party. It didn’t matter if the water was just ankle-deep for those cheering in the background. What mattered was an adult in a kid’s inflatable pool. In all this, there was just one problem—there was no place for the water to hold in the tub. But the cameraman couldn’t care less. We have also seen a daredevil reporter who went live while standing in neck-deep water. Now that is what you call journalism of courage.

Whoever taught us that reporters need not be part of the action, didn’t see the talent pool in Pakistan.

The author is a freelance journalist from Pakistan. Her Twitter handle is @nailainayat. Views are personal.

(Edited by Anurag Chaubey)

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