Chaiwala Arshad Khan Hot, Personal Pictures – first Modeling shoot for a Brand (family, wedding)
Fr 3 days now, he has stared at me – a Pakistani phantom with piercing blue eyes haunting my social media feed. For 3 days, I have acknowledged his presence, avoided his gaze and gone about my day, refusing to be drawn into the mass hysteria surrounding him.
It’s not because I don’t acknowledge his good looks. It’s because the way media (both social and traditional) has gone about “appreciating” him makes me very uncomfortable. It sticks out jarringly for its objectification and the exoticisation of ‘the other’.
Ask yourself this – if someone had taken a picture of Arshad Khan and not mentioned that he was a chaiwala, would you still consider him attractive? The chances are, you would. But would you swoon, would you, creepily I must add, share his photo with your friends and tweet about it? Almost certainly not. After all, this is not our response to every attractive person we see.
“He’s famous because a privileged, Louis Vuitton bag-toting Instagrammer Jiah Ali could find him attractive”
The fact is that Arshad is famous not because of himself – sure he’s attractive, but not exceptionally so.There are many others who are equally good looking but languish in everyday obscurity. Instead, he’s famous because of the fact that a privileged, Louis Vuitton bag-toting Instagrammer Jiah Ali could possibly find him attractive. That’s what makes Arshad incredible. Because, in our world where the rich are pretty and everyone else is grimy, the thought of an attractive chaiwala seems exceptional.
In India, it goes a step further, because, in addition to being poor and of a lower social class, he’s also PAKISTANI! At a time when Indo-Pak tensions are at a peak, Khan’s appeal is almost taboo.
Also read -NaanWala & KaamWali take over after Pakistan’s blue-eyed ChaiWala bags modelling contract
This exception to our perceived rules of class and stereotype makes him exotic and desirable. Our perception of Arshad is so tinted by the lens of class that even the backlash against him smacks of classism. Twitter trends like #tharkiwala, #naanwala and #kaamwali showed that those who were upset at the attention Khan was getting, were upset because they found it absurd for someone of Khan’s social class to be seen as attractive.
With all of this being the case, it’s heartening that at least he’s managed a modelling contract out of this whole ordeal. It should go some way to feeding the seventeen siblings Khan reportedly has, a struggle that obviously exists. A struggle that has necessitated an 18-year-old boy to be a chaiwala. A struggle which, even after hundreds of articles, we know nothing about, because this story was never about him. It was about our own socio-cultural hegemony.