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.