April 28, 2009

Adam B. Ellick at the New York Times has produced a 5 minute clip titled 'A Pakistani Underworld'. The blurb for the clip tells us how: "despite a threat from Islamists, two Pakistani brothers stealthily manufacture fetish and bondage wear, earning more than $1 million a year from their Western customers". And as I raise my eyebrows at the description and click on the 'play' button I'm both intrigued and amused at what I see. 

As someone who considers Karachi one of 'her' cities, I both like and dislike the video. I dislike it because it views Karachi through a completely occidental lens refusing to give the city more credit than being 'a sprawl of urban slums'. Mr. Ellick spuriously labels Karachi as bedrock of Muslim fundamentalism, and asserts more confidently than he should that this is the city where the infamous attacks on Mumbai were planned. I also dislike how a profession considered distinctly seedy even for the glorified 'west' is portrayed as one of the 'upsides' of Karachi. What's next Adam? A profile of Napier Road (Karachi's red-light district) as proof of female emancipation?

But, that said (and it had to be said), I like the clip far-far more than I dislike it! :) And (after-telling-him-off-just-a-little-bit) I can't help but give Mr. Ellick a firm thumbs-up and a big smile.  I like it because it's an excellent presentation of an unusual rags-to-riches story from the steamy depths of Karachi. It's wholly believable, just-surprising-enough-to-keep-those-eyebrows-raised-for-a-while and extremely entertaining. The director/producer has a toungue-cheek-sense of humor that promotes quite a few chuckles from the audience regardless of their moral senstivities. I think everyone should definitely see this clip, and appreciate it for what is says, both positive and negative. And after you've seen it, come back to me and tell me what you think! :P

Ps: I just came across the article associated with the video also. Check it out! :) It's a good read. 


DysfunctionaL said...

I came across this as someone shared it on facebook.. it IS rather intriguing.. however, I'm a little surprised at how the entrepreneurs have come out of the closet.. a business that has been such a well kept secret for years is now so openly publicized and i just cannot get myself to see the kick behind it..

p.s. it was hilarious how the guy in the video explained the so-called 'beach chair' used for 'relaxation on the sea side'

p.p.s. call it a stereotype, but i find both brothers hugely perverted, primarily the one with the squeaky voice

Xeb said...

According to the author, they saw the value in being profiled by New York Times. Maybe they didn't factor in web presence?

I agree though, they both look like typical Pakistani men, pretend seedha on the outside and perverted to the extreme on the inside! :P I'm willing to bet you anything they didn't 'randomly' come across a niche market, they probably had a mid-porn epiphany! :P

But speculations aside, it's a an entertaining article/video! :)

Ali said...

its not working i can only hear the audio, video not working is it on you tube

Xeb said...

It's on my facebook. Wait, lemme check the permalink again.

Xeb said...

Ali, it's working here. I have no clue why you can't access it! :(

Ali said...

hmm may be cuz of my university firewalls or something thx any ways..

Xeb said...

According to Adam, who was kind enough to entertain my ever-growing curiosity about the fetish-brothers:

"oh , as for your blog post, i liked it a lot. you are tough and that is good. a few clarifying point- some more trivial than others.

- you quote me on the "sprawl of slums"- but the full quote is "most of it is a sprawl of slum"- why leave out "most of it" when i specifically wrote and said "most of it"?

i spent about 10 minutes on google maps with a karachi native, and i think it's fairly accurate to say that most of it is a sprawl of slum. if nothing else, it's industry land mass. clifton is small.

also, you make another bold leap by saying i label it as a bedrock of fundamentalism. i never said that. i just pointed out a few facts. the attacks were planned there. ISI investigaors and CIA guys on the case have all admitted such. and it is no secret that Mqm and JUI have "strongholds" there, which is what i said. the whole point to the story is to show that while those are both realities, they are not the only face of karachi."