One of the glorious facets of the advent of the internet has been the rise of a peculiar culture. The products of this culture are notable for their immediacy and spontaneity, their sudden bursts and their short life-spans, and their constant interplay between one's own self and their projected image. The most notable example of this is the 'YouTube star' and about a year ago, Pakistan found its very own version: a young man from Sialkot who went by the name of AwaisLovely. Within a short time, Awais became a cult hit among the country's burgeoning internet population. A measure of his fame – as measured in the parameters of this brave, new world – is that social media networks are awash with fake profiles of AwaisLovely; a Twitter user recently carried out an elaborate hoax before confessing rather remorsefully that he was in fact, a fake.
So who is AwaisLovely?
For his critics, he is an attention-hungry, narcissistic dim-wit who speaks funny and has bad taste.
For those of us free from the shackles of cynicism, he is a folk hero. I had a chance to catch up with the man himself via a phone interview. Please note that the conversation was in both Urdu and English. I have tried to translate the conversation as faithfully as possible to Awais's own style and thoughts.
AwaisLovely on himself:
I’ll tell you something that since a long time ago I mean, guys and people are telling me that ‘Awais, you are really different and you seems to be a very, very romantic guy so you can do something special in the world yeah,’ so I’ve been feeling as well right? So that is why I started making videos to introduce me like I am a lovely guy you know…And I’ve been so romantic with the girls as well, people telling me in my school in my college as well.
[The YouTube videos] are my hobby. If you meet me in reality, you will see I am a different Awais. Mashallah, you will see a lot of things in me. That is because on YouTube, I cannot show my eye contact, my emotions, I cannot make you feel everything about me. But if I am in front of you, when you can practically see everything, feel everything then you will know me well. But I can challenge this, that Inshallah the boy you see on YouTube, the real Awais can be ever better than that.
Today a time has come that if 50 people dislike me on YouTube, then 150 people like me. If you remove a bucket of water from the ocean, the ocean remains unaffected. And I treat these haters like that bucket of water that I have thrown out, while my fans are my ocean.
People copy me now because I am a status, Mashallah a lot of people know me now. So they use my name to impress girls, because girls are really attracted to me right now and even before I was on YouTube. People just want to use my name.
AwaisLovely on Pakistan, and Pakistanis:
I've been noticing that people have been looking at Pakistan with a negative image, and we don't like that. I want to show the world that we can also be lovely, we also have love, we can also respect others, we are also romantic, we also have hearts and we are also polite.
I have seen a lot of [Pakistanis] who go abroad and start thinking that no one can watch us here and we can do anything we like. Among the girls, they start believing that a 'gori' is a bad girl, right? These people think that that since we are abroad, we can do as we please and these 'goriyan' won't mind. But they should understand that they are human beings, they got eyes, they can understand right? These girls then have a bad image of Pakistan, and that is why I go out there with the name AwaisLovely. Being a Pakistani, to prove that we are really different and not all five fingers are equal.
I have thought a lot about [Pakistani elites] and I think they are confused as Paki-born-confused-Americans. I ask them, it is fine if you want to keep your an American style, there is no harm in that, but don't do overacting. Don't try to show that 'I was born in Pakistan, but I don't know who I am, or that I am special.' You should say that we love our country... If you overact, you will get confused, because someone else can see that you are overacting, you are trying to be someone you are not, and that is what makes our youth confused.
AwaisLovely on romance and girls:
I think romance is the most important thing. For me, [the question is] how do you treat a girl? If you are really committed, then she should understand that this guy can make me better. Being romantic doesn't mean flirting with a girl. It means to give her a protection, to give her a care of being romantic. That way, I believe that if you look into her eyes, she will understand that he can be my true friend.
I don't know why girls find me so attractive. A lot of people ask me for this but bro, I think this is God gifted. That is why I'm on YouTube because people used to say me that you are really attractive, so handsome Mashallah. Thank God I never commented on this myself but people used to say me you are cute. This ability began from within me, and I felt I could do something. But this thing about women, I think it's within us, I was born like that.
A final message for his fans:
I'm nothing. I'm a normal guy, and [my fans] can see an Awais inside their own selves. When Awais is on YouTube, that Awais they see there is not the real me, and they don't know the real me. That is why they should try to do something that becomes their personality, and somebody you would like to see. I want to make myself such that others look at me and want to become a personality themselves. Awais is a lovely guy and he is a casual guy and my personality is given to me by God, which can't be cheated, and copying it would only ruin your own personality. [My fans] love me, I love them.
(Special thanks to Masuud Qazi and Safieh Shah for their help. And of course, Awais himself.)
The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.