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Opinion: Beyond The Boundary - The Pakistani YouTubers Winning India's Heart - NDTV

Author: The Pakistani YouTubers Winning India's Heart

Source: https://www.ndtv.com/opinion/beyond-the-boundary-the-pakistani-youtubers-winning-indias-heart-4526593

Image of Opinion: Beyond The Boundary - The Pakistani YouTubers Winning India's Heart - NDTV

What happens when the drama of a cricket match meets the raw emotion of social media?The answer lies in the unfiltered voices of Sawera Pasha and Syed Ali Imran, and Wasey Habib and Syed Qamar Raza Iffi, who challenge how we watch cricket and engage emotionally and politically.On one screen, Sawera Pasha and Syed Ali Imran's voices wrap around you like a warm quilt on a cold night.Flip the channel, and you're in Wasey Habib and Iffi's electric arena, where every word is a firework, every sentence a Molotov cocktail hurled at your senses.Strap in; you're not just a spectator - you're part of the spectacle.First PitchWhy are Indian cricket fans like Abhishek Shukla in Bengaluru, Arpit Pandey and Shalini in Nagpur and Tarun Naulani in Prayagraj bypassing mainstream sports channels to tune into Pakistani YouTube creators?What is it about Wasey Habib's raw, unfiltered commentary or Sawera Pasha's authentic, family-friendly banter that's resonating so deeply across the border?These are the pulse of a new media landscape where the lines between mainstream and alternative are blurring.While Sawera and Ali, and Wasey and Iffi may not see eye to eye or even relish the idea of sharing the same sentence, they are the yin and yang of a cricket-obsessed digital universe. And in this fractured landscape, the love of cricket unites them and us.Melting Pot of Fandom and CritiqueOn October 14, as India and Pakistan clashed at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad for a Cricket World Cup encounter, my anticipation wasn't just for the match itself but for the post-game analysis from Sawera and Ali and Wasey and Iffi.As I toggled between their channels, keeping a tab on their takes on Pakistan's delectable loss, I realised I was part of something larger - a melting pot of love for the game, fandom, critique, and anti-establishment angst.It's like having a dinner conversation after a match, where family members bring every bias, every argument, and every unspoken sentiment to the table and serve it with a side of blunt honesty.You're absorbing information, engaging with it, questioning it, and even challenging it.And that's the beauty of it.The Family Affair: Sawera and Ali PashaSawera Pasha is a rarity in Pakistan and even the Indian sub-continent - a female sports journalist and broadcaster.Alongside her husband Ali, she offers a different spectacle rooted in the everyday.Broadcasting live shows from their middle-class home in Pakistan, the couple brings an endearing slice-of-life authenticity.When their young son appears on screen, visibly sad that his mother will be away for work, it adds an emotional layer that's hard to ignore. It's not just cricket analysis; it's a window into the struggles and joys of a middle-class Pakistani family.Their language and overall behaviour are family-friendly, devoid of the controversial commentaries that characterise Wasey Habib and Iffi.When they argue against each other's opinions, it's intense but respectful - a genuine reflection of a couple navigating life's complexities.In a recent episode, Ali, with the warmth that has become their channel's hallmark, tackled a pointed question about the erasure of minority history in Pakistani schools."Our nine-year-old daughter," he said, "reads the Ramayana and Mahabharata, not as religious texts, but as the shared history of the Indian subcontinent."Ali opened a window into a home where history and culture are not bound by national or religious lines.Ali's passion for sports doesn't stop at cricket.He occasionally delves into other arenas, such as hockey, and even broader sporting events like the recently concluded Asian Games, where India's medal tally crossed 100 for the first time. Ali contrasted India's performance with Pakistan's, raising blunt questions about Pakistan's dismal state of sports.He went further, beautifully sketching the contrasting economic growth in the two countries and its role in boosting national morale.The Provocateur: Wasey HabibWasey Habib isn't your average cricket analyst; he's a firebrand provocateur, turning each commentary into a high-stakes performance.When Iffi coined the term "Ghante Ka King" to describe Pakistan's cricket captain, Babar Azam, it ignited memes and social media trends."Ruhani Mamu" and "Ghante Ka King" in a Theatre of EmotionsWasey and Iffi are dramatists in a theatre of emotions, where abuse, rhetoric, anger, and passion are the building blocks of their narrative.Amid all the noise, what also stands out is their deep knowledge of cricket and their absolute love for the game.Their chemistry is electric, a volatile mix that can ignite at any moment. They alternate between screaming banters and delivering incisive, often searing, commentaries, creating a rhythm as unpredictable as a ticking time bomb.Their commentary is peppered with name-calling that's provocative.They refer to former England cricket captain Nasser Hussain as "Ruhani Mamu," a term that encapsulates the irreverent yet insightful tone that characterises their discussions.But it's not entirely chaos; it's a carefully orchestrated dance.It is a dance of provocation and (rare) restraint, flagging each other when boundaries are crossed, only to provoke moments later, elevating the discussion into a high-stakes emotional drama.In a recent outburst over Pakistan's cricket woes, Wasey Habib veered off script."It's high time we encourage our girls to take up sports," he declared, his voice tinged with an urgency that was revealing."From the narrow lanes of our neighbourhoods to the professional arenas, it's my deepest desire to see women in Pakistan embrace sports." It was a glimpse into the complexity of a man who could oscillate between firebrand rhetoric and genuine social commentary, all while keeping his audience riveted.It's similar to a local tea shop conversation but one where the stakes are high, the banter is explosive, and the chai is boiling over. The channel, "Cricket BBQ with Wasay & Iffi," is about blunt critiques and evocative dialogues.Fast and Slow: A Tale of Two PitchesIn the volatile world of online commentary, where the line between passionate fandom and toxic trolling is often blurred, the duos of Sawera and Ali, Wasey and Iffi stand out as "the glimmer twins" of the YouTube cricket creators' universe.Given the historic and ongoing tensions between India and Pakistan, they operate in a polarised and deeply sensitive environment.Yet, they manage to steer the conversation back to where it belongs: the game of cricket.Of course, they're not immune to the darker aspects of online interaction.They've been trolled, bullied, and even threatened for their opinions and blunt commentaries.And it's not just from one side of the border; the vitriol comes from India and Pakistan.But what sets them apart is how they handle these situations. They share their frustrations, pains, and shocks, not as a form of complaint but as a way to humanise the experience for their viewers.It's a form of emotional labour that often goes unnoticed but is crucial in maintaining a space where meaningful conversations can happen.And in doing so, they influence how we talk about cricket and subtly reshape how we engage with each other in an increasingly fragmented world.As cricket leaps onto the Olympic stage and American soil next year, these creators are the architects of its new global landscape, intricately constructing a narrative that fuses deep-rooted passion with informed fandom.While Pakistan may often lose against India on the cricket field, its YouTube creators are winning Indian hearts and minds.They offer something missing in mainstream media: raw, unfiltered perspectives that resonate deeply with audiences like Arpit Pandey and his girlfriend Shalini in Nagpur.The Litmus Test: Facing Uncomfortable Truths in FandomIn a recent episode, Ali turned to Sawera and said something that struck me: 'The real test for our commentary comes when India loses a match, and audiences still tune in.Our analysis will remain the same, fact-based.' It's a statement that serves as a litmus test, not just for them but for us, their largely Indian audience.Ali and Sawera leave us with a question that lingers long after the applause has died down and the stadium lights are out.Are we, too, willing to face the uncomfortable truths, even when the game doesn't go our way?(Pankaj Mishra has been a journalist for over two decades and is the co-founder of FactorDaily.)Disclaimer: These are the personal opinions of the author.

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