Since its release in 1977, the Star Wars franchise has grown into a cultural phenomenon, and the hype surrounding its latest installment Star Wars: The Force Awakens (out in Pakistan today) makes clear that its popularity endures.
You may or may not be a fan of The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Star Trek, Marvel, or DC properties, but you most likely are a fan of Star Wars.
Words from the films like Jedi, Sith, lightsabers, wookies, droids, and phrases such as ‘I have a bad feeling about this’, ‘may The Force be with you’, ‘it’s a trap’, ‘No, I am your Father’, and ‘I find your lack of faith disturbing’, have become a cornerstone of popular culture.
As a longtime fan of the series who has watched the trilogies countless times, read the extended universe books, owns dozens of miniature Star Wars warfare and board games and has played just about every Star Wars video game possible, I have found it interesting how certain aspects of the fiction resonate with Pakistani culture.
For example, the noble Jedi follow an old religion taught to them from childhood, sport beards, wear long flowing robes colored in earthy tones, believe in a guiding intangible mystical force, and are commanded not to give in to their vices. At the same time, some of these whiskered men turn to the ‘dark side’, killing and lording over those who don’t follow the hardline version of their faith, often using politics and corrupt generals to further their goals. Hmmm.
Of course, there is also Tatooine, an isolated desert land considered to be a conduit for gangsters where the illicit trade flourishes, and is ruled by corrupt clans that employ gangsters and militants.
Does this remind anyone of a certain northern portion of Pakistan?
The similarities also continue with the spiritual nature of 'The Force', and how the Jedi turn to it constantly to shape their destinies.
It is reminiscent of how, no matter what their level of religiosity is, many Pakistanis turn to prayer in their time of need. Take for example, how in sporting events, more than any other nation, Pakistanis bring their hands together in prayer during crunch time.
In light of these similarities, I feel Star Wars would make for an interesting localized version. But who would star in the Pakistani version of Star Wars? Here are the people we had in mind.
1. Obi-Wan Kenobi:
This old and wise Jedi was played by Sir Alec Guinness, one of the greatest actors of his time. Naturally, his Pakistani counterpart should be equally respected in local circles. We feel that the golden man of Lollywood, Nadeem Baig, would make the perfect ‘Old Ben’.
2. Luke Skywalker:
The boyish looking Mark Hamill was a relative unknown when cast in the starring role as a young actor. We think the English entertainer of Pakistani origin, Zayn Malik, with his similarly boyish looks, would also make for a great Jedi prodigy. Certainly, his rebellious streak will help him play a young farmer tired of repairing droids and finding power converters. Let’s just hope the controversial Malik turns out to be a nicer guy on set like Hamill.
3. Princess Leia (Skywalker) Organa:
Young Mawra Hocane is the right age to play the member of the Alderaan Senate who is later revealed to be Luke’s twin sister. Clearly, Mawra has the physique to don the iconic golden metal bikini, and as her open letter to Shaan reveals, carries the fortitude to play a rebel leader. Of course, like Leia, Mawra is no stranger to sporting a fake last name.
4. Han Solo:
The actor everyone loves to hate, Hamza Ali Abbassi would make a great Han Solo. Like the smuggler, the cocky Abbassi is skeptical of pretty much everything, and recently turned a leaf when he unexpectedly came out in support of Ahmadis.
We think there is no one better to play the gigantic hairy wookie than Pakistani fast bowler, the seven foot tall cricketer Mohammad Irfan. Sure, Irfan doesn’t have much acting experience, but all he has to do is wear the suit and moan his lines ferociously as if he is appealing for a dismissal in the heat of a cricket match.
6. Darth Vader:
Altaf Hussain could easily play the part of Darth Vader.
One is a misunderstood man considered by many to be baneful, who speaks in robotic tones between gasps of air, is feared by countless, commands a powerful group of troopers… and the other is Darth Vader.
Fans: Bhai, great job on playing Darth Vader.
Altaf Hussain: Shukria.
Fans: We love the special effects they used for your voice!
Altaf Hussain: What…gasp…special effects?
Who better to replace the alien Jedi Master brought to life by Jim Henson than Pakistan’s very own Uncle Sargam? Both Yoda and Uncle Sargam spoke in a cryptic language with more meaning behind their words than initially understood, and a bushy moustache would look good on any Jedi Master.
8. Boba Fett:
It has been difficult to understand the Fett man’s popularity. After barely any screen time in the original trilogy where he had his rear handed to him, the bounty hunter became an instant fan favorite, leaving his toys flying off of store shelves and quickly growing in value. This is why Taher Shah would make a great Boba Fett. Sure, he would look like Peter Griffin in a space costume, but the humble Tahir Shah would be able to handle the fame.
9. Senator Palpatine/Darth Sidious:
With a little makeup, Qaim Ali Shah could look like a spitting image of Darth Vader’s master. As a politician with some questionable statements on record, he would probably pull it off too.
Darth Vader: Yes, my master?
Emperor Palpatine: Kal bhi Sith zinda tha… aaj bhi Sith zinda hai.
Darth Vader: Huh?
10. Jar Jar Binks:
This goofy alien is the most hated character in the Star Wars universe, considered by most to have singlehandedly sullied The Phantom Menace. Although his role was shortened for the two following films, he continued to haunt fans with his presence.
I can only think of one Pakistani who is similarly clumsy and inexplicably found himself to be a regular fixture on our television sets in spite of his incompetence. Of course, the man I speak of is Kamran Akmal, the Jar Jar of Pakistan cricket.
Disclaimer: this article is categorised as humour/satire. Its content is not meant to be read literally, and the views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the writer or the views of the IMAGES editorial staff.