And all my viewers in Nazimabad, Landhi, Pathan Colony, and beyond Karachi in Lahore, Islamabad and then Europe, the United Arab Emirates, the United States, viewers in space, on the moon, on Mars, and to all the people tuned in to my show because they can’t find their television remotes, I say, welcome.
My show is so popular in Australia, immigrants there send me fresh cow’s milk every morning. People from Norway send me letters saying, “Aamir Bhai we love your show, it reminds us of why we left Pakistan in the first place.”
All the affection pouring in is just overwhelming. The other day, I got a message full of blessings telling me how much joy I’ve brought to someone’s world and how often they pray for my salvation. Then a minute later, there was another message saying, “Sorry, wrong number”.
I provide the kind of family entertainment where people of all ages can swear at each other without being told to shut up. Parents come to me and say, “Aamir Bhai without you our children would never have learned to mimic someone’s voice or make fun of their weight.”
Newly-weds come to my show and say, “Aamir Bhai please give us your blessings and four juicer blenders and a microwave.” Older women come and say, “Aamir Bhai my son has just started his first job can we possibly get a motorcycle?“ Cars, refrigerators, mobile phones; I come bearing gifts. I heard my mother once say the greatest gift of all is children, so I gave them away on my show too.
Everyone wins at Inaam Ghar, especially me.
Of course, there has been hate and jealousy too. I receive Pemra notices like people receive wedding invitations. I think the country would be better off if instead of me, Pemra was banned for three days. The other day I was so tired doing the show that my tongue came out; even that became a censorship issue.
Ever since I was a child I’ve wanted to be on television every minute of every hour in a day. Hence #AamirLiaquatNonStop. I am not an attention seeker. I just like people looking in my direction.
I’ve done four-day long marathon transmissions this Ramzan. People ask if I run on batteries but I have always been energetic, never staying too long in one place, in a political party, a profession or even a television channel.
I am a former minister, a naat khawan, scholar, snake charmer, film critic and mango aficionado. I’m a singer too. The only singer better than me this country has seen was that ancient sewing machine.
As of now, I have rejoined the MQM and am back on the Rabita committee — Altaf Bhai wants to be on my show and win toaster ovens too. After all, Inaam Ghar is the number one game show of Asia, and number two in the world only behind its English transmission.
Last month, in the spirit of self-sacrifice, I gave my life on this show and became a martyr, holding on to the flag of Pakistan with my uncomfortably sucked in breath. I went dressed in a soldier’s uniform and they shot me, maybe because I hadn’t put it on properly. It was a blessed occasion. Very few people get to be martyrs while they’re still alive.
My favourite segment on Inaam Ghar is when I ask a question of the audience and run away before they’ve had a chance to answer. Also ‘potli kholiye’ or ‘what’s in the sack’, which used to be Altaf Bhai’s favourite.
These questions have to be interesting yet challenging. Like what is the capital of Islamabad? How many elephants did Mughal Emperor Akbar have? What were their names? Who invented oxygen? How fast can a boat travel on land? What is the leading cause of indigestion in Ramzan? Is it #SaharAamirKeSaath or #IftarAamirKeSaath?
If one person can cut two mangoes in 10 minutes how fast can two persons cut them? The answer is of course that what idiot cuts mangoes?
To deliberate on such questions I also invite renowned religious scholars like Humaima Malik. Her reward for getting them right was the ultimate prize: me. I also randomly re-enact scenes from the film Sholay. I’ve been congratulated on them by Amitabh himself; he often calls from a Peshawar number.
What I feel really captures the spirit of piety and abstinence in Ramzan is a tug of war followed by sumo wrestling. And what says simplicity better than my bright orange double-breasted Sherwani?
This year I got together with the producers to discuss what a religious telecast at iftar could really use to set the tone. Religious discussions? Recitations? Or lions? The vote was 10-0 in favour of a lion. The lion wasn’t as big a hit as we expected however — he couldn’t answer any of my questions.
Next year I’m going to conduct the show sitting on a camel and have contestants walk over hot coal to get to a microphone.
Dr Professor Aamir Liaquat Hussain
This was originally published in the Herald's July 2016 issue. To read more subscribe to the Herald in print.