Photo credit: Propakistani.com
I consciously wanted to avoid political personalities from this list, but Sheikh Rasheed orchestrated such a masterclass in memeworthy behaviour during late 2016 that you just can’t ignore him. His rap-battle-ready postures and dramatic chase sequences made great fodder for a variety of memes in practically any Pakistani context. Just pure boss.
Professional breaker-of-internet Taher Shah is in another league altogether, because of his global reach and on-cue virality. Dubbed the weirdest YouTube celebrity in the world by The Washington Post, 2016’s Angel alone inspired entire genres of memes. Either he’s the most naive person in Pakistan, or the shrewdest. I honestly can’t tell.
Social media’s darling of the hour (or has-been depending on when this goes into print) seemed to have touched the zenith of accidental fame, and I’m sure more people worldwide can recognise his mug (get it?) than any other Pakistani’s. His signature image is easy to fit into any situation, and often appears next to Fawad, Gosling, Modi – even a Nepali sabziwali!
Momina Mustehsan’s appearance in an otherwise lacklustre Coke Studio season helped propel her into fame, and the local internet community quickly responded to perpetuate her as the archetype of Pakistani girl-next-door. They then proceeded to bicker about how she was cute and talented or cute and opportunistic. Jury’s still not out.
The media hoopla around the inaugural PSL spilled out to user-generated content as well, a lot of which became really good memes. From Ramiz Raja’s weird run in with Chitraganda, to wacky antics by foreigner cricketers (OMG so #gora), Shahid Afridi’s polarising performances, and general trolling about Islamabadi sleepiness, the memeverse was hooked.
Umair Kazi is Partner, Ishtehari. firstname.lastname@example.org