Everyone is born naked, some achieve nakedness and some have nakedness thrust upon them. Or so Veena Malik might contend. —Illustration by Feica
Everyone is born naked, some achieve nakedness and some have nakedness thrust upon them. Or so Veena Malik might contend. —Illustration by Feica

Everyone is born naked, some achieve nakedness and some have nakedness thrust upon them. Or so Veena Malik might contend.

 

The Pakistani starlet bookended this year by being in the news for all the wrong reasons in both January and December and yet managing to garner as many supporters as detractors.

Her biggest splash came when India’s FHM magazine unveiled its December issue, featuring her ostensibly completely nude on the cover and with an ‘ISI’ tattoo on her arm. This of course led to jokes referencing US Admiral Mike Mullen’s notorious phrase, “a veritable arm of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence”. But such was the heat generated by this cover that the morality brigade calling for (of all things) her head couldn’t decide which was the greater sin: a Pakistani woman posing naked in India or the mocking of ISI. Malik claimed that while she had done a “bold”, “topless” shoot, the magazine had “morphed” her pictures to make her seem completely nude. Reports of lawsuits and counter-suits followed, with some claiming the brouhaha was a publicity stunt for both her benefit and FHM’s.

But Veena Malik had already achieved both fame and notoriety by the beginning of 2011 because of media commentary about her stint on the Indian reality show Bigg Boss. She was criticised by the defenders of Pakistani chastity for cavorting on the show with Indian actor Ashmit Patel, while her articulate, proto-feminist defence on television garnered unexpected support from the liberal intelligentsia. Meanwhile, her televised harangue against a hapless cleric (who claimed not to have seen what he was happy to comment on) led to a musical remix of it going viral, and her oft-repeated line, “Mufti Sahib, yeh kya baat hui?” entered the popular consciousness as an all-occasion exclamation.

It’s all been a bit of a leg-up, so to speak, on 2010, when Malik’s celebrity banked on her bitter falling-out with cricketer paramour Mohammad Asif. Sometimes even bad publicity is good publicity, and Malik’s star shines too brightly for it to be ignored. But even she must be surprised at how she has become, quite literally, an embodiment of Pakistan’s liberal-conservative social divide.

Opinion

The ECI headache
08 May 2021

The ECI headache

The ECI sat mute while BJP held huge rallies without following SOPs.
Engaging the enemy
08 May 2021

Engaging the enemy

The ghost of the Musharraf formula has started to haunt the current backchannel process.
Will OIC confront France?
Updated 08 May 2021

Will OIC confront France?

For Pakistan to keep its GSP-Plus status it will have to show the EU that it treats its blasphemy accused fairly.
Standing by Kashmir
Updated 07 May 2021

Standing by Kashmir

A comprehensive failure of governance is always a comprehensive moral failure of the governors.

Editorial

Updated 08 May 2021

Delayed poll debate

THE debate on electoral reforms is going nowhere. Even though the major political parties say reforms are critical,...
08 May 2021

Reducing deficit

THE numbers show that the government has managed to arrest growth in fiscal deficit — the difference between the...
08 May 2021

Rise in dog bites

ON Wednesday, an unusually high number of dog-bite cases were reported in Larkana, when 19 people — the majority ...
Reprimanding envoys
Updated 07 May 2021

Reprimanding envoys

The prime minister should have engaged with honest and respectable officers to identify how solutions can be found.
07 May 2021

Foreign funding case

THE foreign funding case against the PTI has become a never-ending tale. It has been dragging on for years and after...
07 May 2021

Water woes

IRRIGATION experts have voiced concern over the decline of freshwater flow through Kotri barrage, which has led to...