Pakistani television journalist Chand Nawab is over the moon that he inspired a character in the hit film Bajrangi Bhaijaan, which features Salman Khan as an Indian who sneaks into Pakistan to reunite a speech-impaired girl with her family.
“I saw the film on the first day it was released in Pakistan. And I was very happy with the way Nawazuddin Siddiqui portrayed me in Bajrangi Bhaijaan,” Nawab told Hindustan Times on phone from Karachi on Monday.
“Do you know that all shows of the film have been booked in advance till July 27? People can’t get tickets for any of the four daily shows at all halls in Karachi. And so many people have been calling me to tell me they enjoyed watching the character inspired by me,” he said.
Six years ago, Nawab became an unlikely hit on YouTube after his colleagues posted a video of his flubs as a prank. It was this same video that inspired the character of Chand Nawab, the Pakistani journalist who helps Salman Khan in Bajrangi Bhaijaan.
“I want to thank (director) Kabir Khan, Salman Khan and Nawazuddin Siddiqui for the way they portrayed me and Pakistan in the film. Nawazuddin has done a good role,” said Nawab, a reporter with Karachi-based Indus News.
“I was on a TV show with Kabir Khan and he suggested I should come to Mumbai and work in films,” he added with a laugh.
Nawab said he had been receiving calls from friends and colleagues even at 3am to discuss the character in the film. “Others have been coming to my home with cakes and sweets. My colleagues and bosses have expressed their appreciation,” he said.
And thanks to the film, there have also been offers to appear in Pakistani television commercials. “There have been some offers, let’s see what happens,” said Nawab, whose mother hailed from Agra and his father from Bharatpur.
But there is also a tinge of regret. Nawab said he would have been happier if his wife Riffat, who passed away last year, could have watched Bajrangi Bhaijaan with him.
“She was a doctor and she inspired me a lot. She would always stand by me,” he said, adding that his ‘sasural’ (in-laws’ home) is at Tonk in Rajasthan.
While 52-year-old Nawab is now basking in the fame generated by Bajrangi Bhaijaan, there was a time when he was upset by the video on YouTube that started it all.
“I had once gone to Iran some years ago and I met some Indian journalists there. At the time, I told them that the YouTube video had spoiled my reputation not just in Pakistan but also in India. People would point to that video and say, ‘Look, this is the quality of Pakistani television journalism,’” he said.
But as time passed, Nawab changed his opinion about the video that features a series of flubs he made while recording a P2C or piece-to-camera, the clip that anchors a television report, for a report about people leaving Karachi to spend the Eid holidays with their families in the interiors of Sindh.
Nawab wanted the P2C to feature a train pulling out the railway station behind him but the flubs made him repeat the same sentence almost 20 times. At other times, he was interrupted by people walking up and down the stairway on which he was standing.
Perhaps the ultimate tribute is that the YouTube video inspired a complete scene in Bajrangi Bhaijaan.