Publicity Stunts

  • 09 Dec - 15 Dec, 2023
  • Mag The Weekly
  • Fiction

Early afternoon, at some traffic signal, there were few vehicles. The lights remained red for five minutes. There were more cars now. Some vehicles were honking their horns. Two traffic sergeants were standing in front of the cars.

Ten more minutes passed. The traffic lights didn’t change. Some drivers stepped out of their cars and walked towards the traffic sergeants. They wanted to ask about why the traffic signal wasn’t changing but the sergeant wasn’t letting them get any closer. In fact, they were warned with harsh tone to stay back. One of the drivers, who was long heighted turned back and saw that there were plenty of cars behind. There was a van in which there were children. He paid attention to it and realised that it was a school van and it had at least thirty children.

That driver went back to his car and sat inside. He tried to turn the engine on but it wasn’t. Something seemed wrong. He kept on trying but his car seemed to be not working. For several minutes he kept on working over it but his car seemed damaged. He stepped out of the car and as he looked behind his car, he saw a huge line of traffic. There were different families in different cars. He then wondered:

I don’t think that this traffic shall clear anytime soon. I better go and get a mechanic over here.

He started walking but before he stepped over the foot path, he saw two men keeping a large brief case on the road. He didn’t give any special attention to it and kept on walking. As he had covered the distance of more than three miles, something quite unexpected and extremely horrifying took place.

A loud and huge bomb blast took place. The explosion blasted away almost all the cars. It was like huge fire that was spreading in around in a circle. The school van also blasted losing away its spare parts.

The driver also flew away forwards. He fell and hit his forehead. A huge fire was spread around the road.

Chaos was spread that screaming of women and children’s crying was constantly being heard. The blast destroyed the entire place making it look like a fire in the jungle.

Every news channel gave breaking news regarding this:

“A Bomb Blast at the Traffic Signal.”

“More than 100 People Died in the Traffic Signal Blast.”

“A Dark Day of Our Country’s History.”

“Tragedy Strikes Several Families.” Every newspaper, every channel, every morning show and every campaign was talking about this issue. The question in everybody’s mind was:

“Who is responsible for this?” some news anchor spoke in his channel.

“Who was involved behind this traffic signal blast?” some politician spoke in his news.

The issue made media frenzy for two months. The mystery was not resolved properly and the entire blame was put on different terrorist groups. However three months following the incident, the driver who survived the incident appeared before the media and gave a long statement. His statement was more of a speech but only two of sentences were focused and displayed by the media channels:

“The traffic sergeants had held us there for around thirty minutes and were not letting us move ahead.”

“I saw two men keeping a large brief case on the road before I left my car behind. I’m sure the bomb was inside it.”

The case was taken to another direction after this statement. The media began to suspect those police sergeants to be involved with the terrorists responsible for the crime. And some other personalities were also suspected but the case never resolved.

A YouTube video regarding the most controversial celebrity got more than 2 million views within one week. Professor Shahrukh Rizwan’s ban on appearing on any TV channel was lifted by court. He was finally allowed to host morning shows and appear on interviews. One of his fans made a short documentary on his controversial TV career and personal life. And that five minutes YouTube video broke several records appearing number one on trending videos.

In the video, Shahrukh’s different pictures were being displayed. The video’s narration was:

“The infamous Shahrukh Rizwan… How could he stay banned forever? After all, he is the leader of all those celebrities whose channels ratings are on top. The ban has been lifted but it was quite inevitable. He is smart, informative and energetic but at the same time, the most disliked and the most controversial of all celebrities.”

“Hold on…let’s start from the beginning. In 2003, Professor Shahrukh Rizwan started his television career when he was just thirty. By then, he used to talk on science and history. His old shows ‘The World of Science’ and ‘Lessons from History’ were such a hit that he grabbed attention of almost everyone in our country. As far as his personal life is concerned, he had one wife and one son. He always kept his personal life secret and hidden from the public.”

“However, in 2008 he started his new show ‘Isn’t this a Crime?’ through which he spread hate speech and provoked people to commit wrong actions. His speeches were very much disliked by the audience due to which he began to lose his good reputation. Afterwards, he was disliked for his constant sarcasm with his guests on the show. That show was basically meant to discuss politics. But as he began to discuss people’s personal lives and matters publicly, the show became distasteful and at the same time quite attention grabbing.”

“After some time, the same show’s behind the scenes video was leaked in which he was caught mocking and degrading the viewers and audience of the show. However, he publicly apologised for that.

“Today, Shahrukh Rizwan has a huge fan following. Now the question is that are those fans really his lovers or his haters. Either way he is on the top of the list. And the channel that he has joined shall have highest ratings.”

“The most important point about Mr. Shahrukh Rizwan is that he tries to prove to the world that he is the most patriotic and country loving citizen of all. He tells everybody that he has never broken any law regardless of how he secretly disagrees with some laws of the country. In 2012, he was caught breaking the traffic signal and not paying the penalty but when asked, he simply replied that it wasn’t him who was driving the car. It was his driver. And he fired his driver immediately after that.

“And lastly in 2014, the last season of his show, ‘Isn’t this a Crime?’ was a big hit. He was indirectly yet constantly spreading hate speech. He was convicted for provoking people from different areas to fight against one another. When one of his speeches allegedly led to a murder of some ordinary street guy, his show got banned. And in 2016, when he spoke against court’s verdict, he himself was banned to appear on any TV show.”

“So the ban has finally been lifted. Mr. Shahrukh Rizwan is back and he might spread the fire again through his hate speech as usual. Or perhaps he might have learned from his past mistakes. Let’s see how interesting he can be for his viewers…Thank you for watching”.

 In the same city where Professor Shahrukh Rizwan resided, there lived a twenty three year old guy Yahya Taimoor. He lived with his mother, his younger sister and his step-father. He was about to graduate from his studies but at the moment he was earning through YouTube.

Yahya Taimoor had a YouTube channel after his own name. His channel had more than 2 million subscribers. His channel was basically about analysis. In his videos, he used to analyse the current affairs of the country related to any field. In another section, he also used to predict and forecast the upcoming events or consequences of any particular event.

His channel had basically five sections: Scope and Studies, Current Affairs, Celebrity Gossips, World Affairs and Publicity Stunts. Whenever some viewer clicked on his video, the video would start up with these five titles appearing on the screen. And the section he would be talking on would emerge in front of other sections. His most interesting and most liked videos were of the section: Publicity Stunts.

He would upload his new video every week on Thursday. His followers used to demand and suggest videos through personal texts and he would always fulfill his fans’ wishes.

One ordinary morning while Yahya was walking with his university friend Khurram outside their campus, they began their conversation. So Khurram asked him:

“As you know that Shahrukh Rizwan’s ban has been lifted, and everybody’s quite excited about it, so what are your comments regarding this?”

“I’m not surprised. This had to happen. I’m not going make any clip on this issue. I’ll watch him for few days and wait until he does something weird”

“I see. So you don’t see him as a bad person.”

“No, of course not,” Yahya lied. “He is entitled to his opinions. But wherever he is wrong I point him out.”

“But everyone dislikes him. And they say that he is not a good person.”

“And yet the likes on his videos are greater than dislikes.”

“That’s true!”

“See the thing is that no matter how much you hate Shahrukh Rizwan, you can’t deny his influence. He has influenced his viewers in such a way that he has revolutionized the thinking of youth.”

“I agree but my question is that why do we hate him, regardless of all his accomplishments.”

“I think because of his sarcastic comments. His constant sarcasm and attitude towards his guests is something that has destroyed his reputation. And now there’s nothing he can do about it.”

“Yeah, you’re right. And what about Ramshah Khan? She is nothing different than him, don’t you think?”

“She pulls a lot of publicity stunts. However, Mr. Shahrukh doesn’t. He doesn’t need to. He has gotten so much fame and attention that even if he tweets something ordinary, it becomes breaking news.”

“That’s true. That is so true!”

“Well, my job is to tell people the truth. My followers and my subscribers expect nothing more than truth from me. This is why I keep all prejudices and biasness aside while making my videos.”

His friend chuckled in response. “Believe me if you want to,” Yahya replied.

“Oh, I believe you. But I don’t believe that you have no dislike for Mr. Shahrukh Rizwan at all.”

Yahya was left speechless for a while.

 Later that night, Yahya was watching television at his home’s living room. He was watching the channel on which he was expecting Professor Shahrukh Rizwan to give his comeback speech. As his mother passed by, she asked him:

“What are you watching?”

“Shahrukh Rizwan has returned back. His ban has been lifted and now he will host his TV shows as usual.”

“Oh no,” his mother responded.

“I’m just waiting for his comeback speech.”

“Yahya please,” she urged. “Please don’t watch him. I’m telling you that this man can only leave a bad influence on your mind. You have got to change this channel, right now.”

“Don’t worry Mom. I’m a mature person now. There is no one who can influence me with his words or with his actions.”

“You’re just saying that. I have seen you venting out your anger over others which is caused because of him.”

“Look Mom, please don’t judge me here. I do not ventilate somebody else’s anger over someone else.”

“Okay, do what you want. But mark my words, no good will come out of watching this man Shahrukh Rizwan.”

“Okay, fine.”

His mother left for her room. He turned his eyes back to the television. He wondered by himself:

My mother’s right. I shouldn’t watch someone like this. But she doesn’t know my actual plan. My secret plan is something that will make almost everyone happy and they all will be grateful to me afterwards.”

Minutes later, the show began.

In the show, a huge number of audiences were seated. They all clapping and cheering as someone was making his way to the stage through descending down the stairs.

Here he comes. Yahya spoke.

The lights shined upon his face. It was none other than Professor Shahrukh Rizwan. He was smiling and there was an expression of arrogance in his face. He was wearing a black suit with white shirt and red tie. He raised up his hands and spoke:

“Thank you. Thank you everyone for your love!”

The clapping faded after a while and he began speaking:

“Thank you, ladies and gentlemen for your love.

But let me clarify something here. I am not back. I have not returned.

Because a lost, disappeared or misplaced person returns.

I was not lost anywhere. I was still among you.