Nothing makes me miss the city of Karachi more than its crazy zany billboards, banners and adverts. Here in the twin cities, you either see road side boards selling real estate (Gulberg anyone?), the odd billboard of the PM or the President opening an institute or welcoming a foreign dignitary or if you are in Rawalpindi, you would spot chotay Mian sahib (Shahbaz Sharif) celebrating the construction of a nala or kamyab dengue bachao muhim, everything is mundane and nothing touches the creativity and the entrepreneurial spirit of Karachi and its people.
Once upon a time, a cart vendor by the name of Ilyas Quraishi started selling Biryani in my former neighbourhood in Karachi. We don’t know if it was because his biryani tasted better than others or because he was the sole biryani seller in the muhalla or the fact that he used to raise the price of his plate of biryani quite regularly; his business grew phenomenally and in few short years, he moved from a single cart to multiple carts, then to a shack and finally to a proper shop. This reflects two things; Ilyas Bhai is a bonafide Karachiite who is enterprising and knows what works for him and pursues it. Secondly, we in Karachi, can never get enough of Biryani that is why the city has many rags to riches stories of the biryani sellers of all varieties in almost all localities.
This Eid, Ilyas bhai decided to go big and ordered a couple of big Billboards to announce to the world that Ilyas Bhai and his biryani is here to stay.
|Ilyas Quraishi Biryani house wishes you Eid along with Shahid Afridi, Shahrukh Khan and Katrina Kaif
On the extreme right corner of this billboard, we have Bollywood superstar Shahrukh Khan, getting many thelas (bagfuls just does not seem right when we are talking about biryani) of Ilyas Biryani while riding a bike. An unseen acquaintance meets him and the conversation goes like this:
The unseen acquaintance: “Shahrukh Bhai, kya baat hai, itni dher saari biryani lay ke ja rahain hain woh bhi Ilyas Bhai ki, kya mehman aye hain?”
Shahrukh, in his glorious hairdo says, “Kya karain bhai, humaray mehmaan tau Ilyas Bhai ke ilawa kisi aur ki biryani khatay hi naheen.”
It does not end here, in this Ilyas biryani alternate universe, Shahid Afridi – Lala or Shahid Bhai as he is affectionately called by the fans – is married to Katrina Kaif. In their biryani filled coupledom, a conversation goes like this:
Katrina: “Birynai kaheen idhar udhar se mat lana, sirf Ilyas Biryani se hi lana warna mein naraz ho kar apni ammi ke yehan chali jaon gee.
Shahid Bhai gets worried, does not even bother to change and starts running towards Ilyas Birayni in his Pakistan team kit saying, “Naheen naheen, apni ammi ke yehan mat jana, mein Ilyas Biryani hi la raha hoon.”
This too reflects two things; firstly, Bollywood is BIG; from selling soaps to fizzy drinks to Ilyas Bhai ki Biryani, we need Katrina Kaif and Shahrukh Khan. Second of all, if there is anyone who either matches or beats the Bollywood brigade in terms of popularity and selling goods, it is Shahid Bhai. Eat your heart out #TeamMisbah, you can never sell a plate of biryani — or murgh cholay for that matter — it is brand Afridi that does it.
PS: I wonder what numerous Lala fan girls have to say about this pairing of Shahid Afridi and Katrina Kaif by Ilyas Quraishi biryani walay.
Photo Courtesy: Salman Jillani