Person of the Week: The Chaiwallah


Person of the Week: The Chaiwallah

Illustration: Rutuja Patil/ Arré

What a week of wonderful contradictions this has been. As most of India tried to figure out how best to get the Pakistan out of Bollywood, one Pakistani man single-handedly created his own Bollywood movie. He came from the hinterlands of Pakistan, has “Khan” for a last name, made a few glasses of chai, was photographed without his consent, and has managed to land a modelling contract. All that’s left is for him to sing a long song about how badly he wants to have sex with his love interest for this to release on Diwali 2017.

For this exceptional feat, as well as his ability to make women’s nether regions melt, we are happy to announce that Arshad Khan, or “hot Pakistani chaiwallah”, is our Person of the Week. Bring Your Own Biscoots, because everyone at this party is going to get baked.
The photograph of this attractive 18-year-old (ahem) man has spawned so any conversations it’s hard to keep track. But we must address the most important issue first: Complaints have come in that several unwarranted chaiwallahs have sprouted up in the Lokhandwala-Versova region wearing Versace knock-offs and their grandfathers’ Rolexes. This isn’t going to work, strugglers. You are neither hot nor poor enough. Please go back to singing “Purani Jeans” at the Versova Café Coffee Day and writing poetry when you are not getting into unnecessarily aggressive fights at fashion shows.

Now that the strugglers have been taken care of (figuratively, of course), let’s get back to our person du jour. Khan is an enigma shrouded in a mystery and a ’70s pornstache. He became an instant Twitter celebrity once a Pakistani photographer, who goes by the name Jiah Photography, uploaded his picture to the microblogging site. She focused on his blue eyes, and just like that, turned him into a poster boy for thousands of women (and men) who are still lugging around their colonial baggage. Pornhub could really come up with a separate section called “Eighteen-year-old eye-fucked by multiple women” to generate more traffic.

Butthurt guys called him ugly and attempted to draw attention to their post-workout selfies. Several women, on the other hand, were delirious merely at the chance to reverse the gaze.

The young boy, meanwhile, comes from a small village in north-west Pakistan and makes chai because he can’t afford an education. Instead of focusing solely on his apparent beauty, there are a few questions we should be asking here: Why can’t he afford an education? Why is there so much poverty in the region? And what about his 17 siblings? But no, to hell with all of that, nobody really cares. Now that Khan is going to walk the ramp at the Islamabad Fashion Week, the rest of the uggos in the region can go fuck themselves. Once all the brands noticed how much attention he was getting, there was no turning back. Khan still had no educational prospects but had television offers, sponsorship contracts, and book deals thrown at him.

Meanwhile, did someone say passing judgment on someone you’ve never met or heard of before? Because that’s one idea social media could totally get behind. Timelines were flooded with debates on whether Khan’s fame counted as objectification and reverse sexism. Butthurt guys called him ugly and attempted to draw attention to their post-workout selfies. Several women, on the other hand, were delirious merely at the chance to reverse the gaze. And the innocent-looking chaiwallah became the face that launched a thousand think pieces. One article argued that harassing a tea boy for his looks is a terrible idea and that the class dynamics mean he cannot even read the language used to describe him or access the forum on which he gained global fame. Which is pretty hardcore – and apt.

Then as predictable as the jokes about India’s own chaiwallah, came the “whataboutery” social media is famous for. Immediately after pictures of Khan surfaced, a slew of images of other good looking kids from around the world began emerging; from the hot security guard at Singapore International Airport, to the hot convict, who had been out of action for a year or so.

Anyway, just like cat videos and Harlem shakes, the Pakistani chaiwallah will come and go, forever to be a trend that lasted one week. Once the make-up team arrives and puts him in shitty outfits to act in shitty movies, the whole thing will blow over, and people will find else to talk about. We have no idea how good an actor this guy is, or whether he can actually string together a sentence.

So all this fuss was really about nothing. Hear that Lokhandwala strugglers?