Monday, 5 December 2011

Veena Malik: Ovaries the size of Lahore and feet in two worlds

Had Veena Malik been born in Britain I'd have probably loathed her. Harsh, maybe, but that's my default setting as far as Celebrity Big Brother contestants go and I can't see it being much different with India's analog 'Big Boss' (of which Malik was a contestant) either.

And yet she's a hero to me.

This Youtube clip, taken from a Pakistani TV channel earlier in the year, blew my mind (It really kicks off about 2.30 mins in). Of recent years its been fairly commonplace in that country to invite a female celebrity deemed too close to the 'moral line' on to an interview and then ambush them with an angry and self-justified cleric. Pakistan is not a country you'd want to be seen taking issue with one of God's mouthpieces and so the celebrity folds, admits their sins and begs forgiveness.

Not Malik, though. She went off script. 'There are many other things for you to deal with' she says 'There are clerics who rape the children they teach in Mosques. Pakistan is infamous for many reasons other than Veena Malik'. Inarguably, she kicks that pontificating turd into his own vile hat. An admirable turn of events in a nation where liberal politicians can be shot by their own bodyguards and their assassin's showered with petals by lawyers.

And now this.
I've chosen not to display the actual cover that's caused all the controversy, mainly because- aside from the 'tattoo' it's pretty whack. No imagination. It's also irresponsible. It should be clear to anyone remotely aware of photoshop that her hips are a different tone and would look more at home in a disney cartoon. That alone leads me to believe Ms Malik over the editors of India's FHM. That, and the fact they're editors of a lad's mag. My encounters with the British variant (whose work has recently been compared with rapist's smalltalk) haven't impressed me: a bunch of privately educated, stunted adolescents to a man. Why should their subcontinental brothers be any different? Aside, of course, that their laddish wheeze in Delhi endangers Malik's family in Pakistan.

The image Spool uses here, however, is closer to the idea Malik was originally attracted to the project for. It's got an iconic cool in my opinion, one oddly reminiscent (though you may think me on the crazy pills here) of early Manic Street Preacher shots- partial nudity, paramillitary chic and some controversial initials. In this case, ISI.

The ISI are Pakistan's security forces; notorious exponents of the blacked out van and foreign operations (see Mumbai and Afghanistan) in the Israeli ouvre. Veena Malik's reasoning for their monicker on her body is straighforward- it's common in India these days to blame any ill, no matter how minor, on the ISI. It's a tongue in cheek play to the readership of Indian FHM, then. Unfortunately, Pakistan's establishment is as likely to do 'tongue in cheek' as they are to make The Only Way is Islamabad or Jaffarabad Shore for national television.

It's easy to wax enthusiastic about the ever-shrinking global village when you're sat behind a keyboard, blogging to your heart's content in the first world. Veena Malik actually has to walk all its streets. There, one can find boulevards resplendent with satellite TV and red carpets. Turn into an adjacent alley and you'll find acid thrown at women's faces. And a cheeky liberty in Delhi becomes a liability- and a witch hunt- across the border.

Imagine living the ethos of burlesque one moment, Thomas Paine's The Rights of Man another and the Handmaid's Tale the next. That's the modern world in which Veena Malik lives, one in which she must make a living and retain life and limb. Ironically, if she does have some no-life assasin lurking in the wings (and let's hope not) it's his world too. As you read this, there's most probably a well-thumbed copy of Malik's FHM hidden beneath his prayer mat.

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