When Dananeer Mobeen, a 19-year old social media influencer from Peshawar decided to shoot a short video on a whim, she certainly wasn’t prepared for the media avalanche that was about to roll. Mobeen had probably worked a lot harder on planning and shooting her past videos, which went nowhere. But this particular one was shot completely spontaneously, in the zone with little expectation. And you could have only missed the meme if you were hiding in a bunker sans a device. That or you were dead… because boy did it go viral.
Foggy and beautiful Nathiagali is possibly the best setting to be frolicking with your friends, before flicking out your phone and shooting a five-second video that changes your life. Mimicking the way ‘burgers’ (colloquial for Pakistanis who speak Urdu with a fake accent), Mobeen wasn’t even following a loose script. She was just having fun when she looked into her phone camera and stated the obvious. And that is what tickled everyone’s funny bone.
Pointing to her car, she said, ‘Yeh hamari cawr hai,’ pointing to her friends, she said, ‘Yeh hum hain’ and then added ‘aur yeh hamari pawri horahi hai’ and all of Pakistan fell over laughing before launching their own takes on the meme. Those 13 fated words propelled Mobeen to the kind of fame that many celebrities dream about for years, work incredibly hard for and very often never achieve.
As the video started its swift journey around the globe, Mobeen’s social media following blew up exponentially. #Pawrihorahihai started trending in India and everyone (from janitors to politicians to heavyweight Bollywood stars) pulled out their phones to upload their own take on the meme or were happy to be caught on camera doing the pawri thing. Fun and creativity ruled the weekend when the meme came out and everyone was hopping onto the pawri train. For about a week, Yeh hamari __ hai, Yeh hum hain aur yeh ____ horahi hai became the subcontinent’s anthem. It was especially refreshing because it isn’t everyday that Pakistanis have things to laugh uncontrollably about.
It is always fascinating to watch content that gains a life of its own and goes viral unexpectedly. It is especially so, when a spontaneous bit of content created with zero money surges miles ahead in the face of content engineered and pushed with millions of rupees behind it. Mobeen’s sudden rise was reminiscent of a world created inside Roald Dahl’s imagination. Literally overnight the media sensation’s pretty face started popping up on social media newsfeeds, in the electronic media (even BBC Urdu bagged an interview with her), and there she was showcased at the biggest event in the country – the PSL, hobnobbing with the gorgeous Mahira Khan and Javed Arfidi.
It is tempting to dissect the appeal of the video and ponder on the factors that made it go viral. It is easy to say that the video took off because it was original, perfect for our goldfish attention span and easily replicable. Yet the same is true for a lot of content that is created and uploaded every single day. What will take off is anyone’s guess. We hear about it all the time. From films that suddenly break the box office flops to novels that are routinely rejected by publishers only to become bestsellers. The pawri meme was just more of the same phenomena; replicable, not totally explainable and very, very funny.
By Sheri S.