Politicking parodies and tongue-in-cheek satire in online videos push the right buttons with the youth
When Sultan,the menacing butcher by day and assassin by night,visits the coal mafia don Ramadhir Singh,the antagonist of Anurag Kashyaps Gangs of Wasseypur (GoW) at the formers mansion,it is easy to assume that they will plot something heinous. Instead,the two chat about their Facebook updates and the number of Likes it has fetched. This is a scene from Gangs of Social Media,a spoof on the film. It used clips from the original movie while staying true to the language of Dhanbad.
Released on YouTube,this video fetched a million views in three days. It was also promoted by Kashyap,on social networking sites,lauding it as a great work of spoof. It was produced by The Viral Fever (TVF),an online TV production house,that exclusively creates such online videos. Comprising spoofs,mashups and sketches,original content driven by unusual ideas,it has emerged as an alternate mode of entertainment for the internet-savvy youth averse to Indian television.
While TVF is the most popular and successful of online entertainment portals with over 80,000 subscribers there are other medium and small-scale sites such as mainduck Shorts,Okay Potato and LongyTV. While mainduck Shorts produces a series of short films on different concepts including the popular Shit People Say videos,Okay Potato aims to have everything including parodies,such as I Kissed Abdul,videos on Mumbais indie music scene and mashup videos such as the Tribute to Mamata Banerjee.
Their popularity comes from the growing disconnect between the urban youth and the content available on television. Anyone who wants to get away from television,and has an internet connection is our audience. Such a person spends more time on the phone than watching television, says Rohit Pereira,founder,Okay Potato. For Arunabh Kumar,founder and creative experiment officer of The Viral Fever,it has become a platform to showcase alternate ideas. It is impossible to create something exciting and fresh out of the old system, he says.
Large-scale television production companies are eyeing the digital platform too. Optimystix that makes shows such as Crime Patrol and Baal Veer,will soon launch their digital initiative with channels dedicated to food,comedy and music. The online space is a level-playing field where there is autonomy over content and zero dependence on one person, says Mohsina Ahmad,its assistant vice-president.
Humour works best when it comes to the content. Spoofs appeal to a younger audience who are going through changes and so,question everything. They live on the internet. So its great that companies like Viral Fever are finding a voice through the digital media, says Josy Paul,creative director,BBDO,India. Paul was among a panel of judges for a Spoof Festival held in Delhi last year.
International recognition for TVF came when it was invited to a global festival,held in Singapore last month,to celebrate the most popular YouTube channels . Moreover,a resounding acknowledgment for this brand of entertainment has come from the Hindi film industry. Filmmakers and producers are tying up with TVF to reach out to their desired section of the audience: the youth. For instance,after the spoof on Student of the Years song Ishq Wala Love called Gana Wala Song went viral one would have thought the films producer-director Karan Johar would be miffed. Instead,his Dharma Productions has roped TVF to create similar content for their upcoming films.
However,their creators,especially the ones who make parodies of political figures remain underground. Some of the recent examples are the creators of Tribute to Mamata Banerjee or a mashup video involving TV anchor Arnab Goswami. The former used clips from an official speech by the West Bengal chief minister in her trademark style,set to the beats of dubstep music,making it seem like a hip hop music video. Made around the time when the Bengal government put behind bars anyone who poked fun at its chief minister,a media professional from the city uploaded the video using the Okay Potato portal,without revealing his identity. Its for the thinking audience,who will take a stand, says the creator of the video.