Lately when an ace Bollywood director posted a picture on Instagram and Facebook with the tagline, ‘With Tyrion Lannister at Pahalgam festival’, people in Kashmir who’ve followed Game of Thrones (GOT) reacted in great numbers to the post. But, it turned out that the celebrated character was actually a Kashmiri artist, struggling to make ends meet.
Not only fans, even a Kashmir-based newspaper and an India-based travel website ran stories about Peter Dinklage being in Kashmir on February 19, 2018. But the euphoria lasted till someone on social media pointed out that the man who looked exactly like Peter Dinklage aka Tyrion Lannister of Game of Thrones (GOT)—an American fantasy drama television series—was actually his doppelganger.
Comments on the Bollywood director Imtiaz Ali’s post indicated that most people believed it was really Dinklage in the photo. “Is that an indication,” one Instagram user wondered, “that GOT may finally be shot in India?”
Then fans of the famous TV series started tagging their friends on Imtiaz Ali’s wall to let them know that one of the most iconic characters of the GOT was in town. Others could not suppress their excitement and wished to meet Dinklage.
Not only were social media users fooled into believing that 30-year-old Tariq Mir of Kashmir’s Islamabad district was Peter Dinklage, even those present at the Pahalgam festival were, when they saw Tariq appear, flanked by troops, in the GOT costume.
“It was unbelievable at first,” said Shayan Shah, who was present at the festival, “when we saw him walk in the GOT costume along with other men who were acting like his soldiers. It was an amazing experience. People went crazy after witnessing the scene.”
Little did those present at the festival or those commenting on his pictures know that the man walking as Tyrion Lannister was a fellow who struggles to make ends meet.
Tariq Mir was born in Mir Bazar area of Islamabad, in a peasant family. He first started acting during his school days and received an award for a performance. Later he started working in Srinagar, where work would hardly come by.
“There was not much work then,” Tariq said. He started acting in dramas where he would usually perform comedy. “It would usually be to make people laugh, because I’m a dwarf and people laughed when I acted comically.”
God, he said, has given him sustenance in this form, and he accepts it, though there’re certain issues he does face. “But I’m thankful to God for whatever he has given me,” he said.
Tariq sees his dwarfism as his gift — as he believes people get entertained and then pay you for making them laugh.
“What else do you need?” he asked. “I don’t care if people make fun of me. I believe I’m perfect and those making fun of us are flawed. I’ve been successful if I’m able to ward off stress from people’s minds.”
He feels proud every time he sees Dinklage in the GOT.
“His character is so important,” he said. “Otherwise dwarfs have been mostly portrayed as comedians or evil beings. But in Game of Thrones, Peter is above everyone. The credit should go to the makers for changing the narrative about dwarfs.”
Terming Tyrion Lannister’s character as an inspiration to every dwarf, Tariq said that the character has helped him in believing that even his tribe can do great things.
“Not only has he given me a name,” he said, “but he has given me and others the hope that we can do big.”
Tariq has acted in many TV serials and has been performing for more than ten years now. Apart from Srinagar, he has worked in Delhi and wherever he got the opportunity. “Before this (Pahalgam) festival,” he said, “I had more fan following in Delhi. But now, many in Kashmir know me, too,” he smiled.
Despite all the attention he’s now getting, Tariq continues to live a hard life and earns a meager Rs 7,000 per month.
“Work is hard to come by,” he said. “Sometimes it takes a long time for a programme to happen.”
His struggle makes many believe that Tariq is playing the real life Tyrion Lannister in his own life version of ‘Game of Thrones’. But unlike the reel character played by his inspiration, his character is bereft of limelight and big bucks.
But now when big names like Imtiaz Ali know about him, Tariq expects to get work and even a break in Bollywood. “There’s this hope now, yes,” he said. “Everyone at the festival said they would give me a break. Let us see! I’m hopeful.”
Like this story? Producing quality journalism costs. Make a Donation & help keep our work going.