Do you know a cringe pop/humour enthusiast? I know someone who downloaded the Vigo Video app to exclusively access content from Somvati Mahawar, better known as the ‘chaai pee lo frandz’ aunty. That takes some beating, as far as cringe-dedication is concerned. Jokes aside, this situation is a telling commentary on the bemusing age of the internet, and more notably on the increasingly un-filtered (pun intended) consumption of digital content in India (a few months back, Kathua’s eightyear old rape victim was being actively searched for on porn websites).
What exactly is cringe, some might enquire? It encompasses a genre of music and videos that’s acknowledged to be ‘so bad that you cannot stop watching them.’
But what exactly is cringe, some might enquire? It encompasses a genre of music and videos that’s acknowledged to be ‘so bad that you cannot stop watching them.’ Its extension is the internet meme culture. For tech novices, a meme is defined as a piece of media that spreads, often as mimicry or for humorous purposes, via the internet. Once the people of the internet strike gold on a meme mine (usually the likes of Mahawar), the result swiftly burgeons on to our social media timelines, via platforms like Reddit. On one side of this symbiotic data exchange are we, the consumers. India might not have hit internet puberty when the mother of cringe pop, Rebecca Black, earned record haters for Friday in 2011, but the ease of high-speed internet access (mainly thanks to Reliance Jio & Co) laced us sufficiently for the millennial years of content to come. Indians have found it difficult to hold their horses, with the copious amounts of data available at their fingers’ touch, becoming the third highest consumers of porn in 2017, with 86 per cent of the traffic being driven on smartphones, according to PornHub. But even for a country as horny as ours, you do yearn for variety, however bizarre.
Indians have found it difficult to hold their horses, with the copious amounts of data available at their fingers’ touch.
This is where the other side of this byte trade comes into play. The surplus data enables access to the deep corners of the worldwide web, and the conversion of something seemingly inconsequential to something spectacularly popular, aka viral. Of course some content is mildly worthy of attention, like Sanjeev Srivastava (the viral ‘Dancing Uncle’); but for every Srivastava, there are a dozen Mahawars (not a social reference)
Till only a few weeks ago, she was occupying a nondescript place on the servers of Vigo Video. Next thing you know, her tea invitations are ubiquitous – even white people are making their own ‘chaai pee lo frandz’ videos now. You could sum her up as the human equivalent of annoying jpegs from your distant relatives on a family WhatsApp group chat.
“Hello frands Chai peelo”
Vlogger Somvati Mahawar has shared around 400 videos, which are more or less about offering tea, and sometimes even mangoes and watermelons. Before a recent deactivation, she had more than 9,000 friends and around 28,000 followers on her vlog. There is limited information on her whereabouts, but all the internet cares for is her 15-second long chaai offer.
Bhai Bhai Bhai Bhai
A sincere appeal against potholes by Kanpur resident Shahid Alvi quickly took a profane turn, when he fell into one in the middle of his homemade PSA video. Surprise surprise, it soon went viral. He’s now approaching two lakh subscribers on Youtube, and the catchphrase ‘bhai bhai bhai bhai’ – used by his buddies in the video, when he trips over – has become a popular internet meme by itself.
Part of the documentary Nashebaaz – The Dying People of Delhi, a young boy named Kamlesh shot to internet stardom with his candid admissions about consuming ‘soluchan’ (drugs) last year. Kamlesh is now 18, according to director Dheeraj Sharma, who refuses to reveal any further information about him. All we hope is for Kamlesh to not suffer the same fate as another hit addict on the internet, Mukesh.
Deepak Kalal in Goa
An impersonation of Gaurav Gera’s drag acts, this Punebased middle-aged vlogger is often seen with his head wrapped in a towel, trying to seduce the viewer with effeminate mannerisms. For his pro-Kashmir stance, he has gained popularity in the valley, before becoming an internet meme following a kissing offer to PM Narendra Modi if the situation up north is resolved.
Last August, Deepak Sharma released a video in which he was seen beating someone up for ‘making fun of religion.’ He also hurled a list of personal qualifications to prove that he’s not just another nationalist goon. But what did the internet do to him? It turned him into exactly what he was rallying against – a meme.
“Swag wali topi”
India’s answer to Rebecca Black, Pooja Jain’s autotuned rap-imitation has to be our biggest contribution to cringe pop. Her songs Swag Wali Topi and Selfie Maine Le Li Aaj deservingly earned the ire of the internet, before all but one of her videos was taken down on copyright grounds. The UP Youtuber did get a call-up from the Bigg Boss house, nonetheless.
“Bol na aunty”
” The rise of cringe pop in India also led to the discovery of Omprakash Mishra’s controversial song, Aunty Ki Ghanti. Its popularity was such that hundreds of people gathered in Delhi to chant the song together. One section of the internet was quick to point out the sexism in the lyrics, and once awareness spread, there were very few takers for this meme.
Subcontinent cringe pop owes it to the Eye To Eye singer, who later stole our hearts (and wits) with the velvet robe-clad Angel.
Nepal-born English banker Niroula likes to make music videos in his free time. Don’t blame us if you also fall in love with Sunday Morning Love You.
The mother of two from Kerala didn’t want Is Suzann A Sinner? to be seen as cringe pop, but who is she to decide, retorted the internet.
The “Venglish” singer claims to have developed his own language, and maybe that’s why his extraordinary It’s my life has 15 million-plus views on Youtube.