Shirish Kunder Is Making Waves On Twitter With His Wit And Sarcasm
It’s probably safe to assume that more people have read Shirish Kunder’s tweets than have seen his films. Kunder’s two directorial ventures, Jaan- E-Mann (2006) and Joker(2012), barely recovered their money — but he has than 2.5 lakh followers on Twitter. A father to triplets and husband to a fiercely active film-maker (Farah Khan has made twice as many films, choreographed several party anthems and hosted a dozen reality shows in the last decade), Kunder is moonlighting as an armchair activist these days, while showing off an unknown talent for sarcasm.
There are listicles devoted to the best of Kunder’s tweets, some of which include:
Arvind Kejriwal has taken his revenge on Delhi Police. Now they’ll have to learn maths. #OddEvenFormula
— Shirish Kunder (@ShirishKunder) December 4, 2015
Dear Anupam Kher,#AamirKhan was talking about Kiran Rao, not Kiran Kher. Hope this clears the confusion. Jai Ho 🙂
— Shirish Kunder (@ShirishKunder) November 24, 2015
Never get disheartened waiting for success. Remember how long the ‘@’ symbol sat idle on our keyboards before its big break on the internet.
— Shirish Kunder (@ShirishKunder) December 17, 2015
Nothing worse than going to McDonald’s and finding out that a meal is happier than you.
— Shirish Kunder (@ShirishKunder) December 10, 2015
The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. But that’s the longcut. Shortcut is to look hot.
— Shirish Kunder (@ShirishKunder) November 19, 2015
Diwali Offer: Save money on buying a bigger TV by sitting closer to your existing one.
— Shirish Kunder (@ShirishKunder) October 24, 2013
Kabaddi is a true Indian sport. Everyone get together and pull down the one person trying to achieve something.
— Shirish Kunder (@ShirishKunder) August 9, 2014
Was Kunder always funny, and we just didn’t notice? “The wit comes naturally to me,” he says, tucking his satiny hair behind his ears. “I have to try not to do too much. If something happens today, I can quickly see funny side of things. I was never a direct humour kind of guy — mine was satirical, black humour. When I used to do sarcasm earlier, people in India would not get it, and I would get frustrated. A lot of stand-up comedians from the UK and the US would like my tweets. I would wonder why people here don’t get it. But, I see that people’s sense of humour has evolved. They’re getting sarcasm now, which is suiting me. I don’t have to try too hard now. It gives me hope for other things as well.”
Kunder is currently finishing a short film with Manoj Bajpayee, a psychological thriller called Kriti, and he has begun casting for Mrs Serial Killer, a female-centric crime thriller. He’s tasted enough crow to admit, “Comedy has not worked for me. I have no intention of doing comedy films in the future. Now I keep it only for Twitter. I can write funny things,but I think my direction is better suited for dramas and thrillers. The short film is a sort of foreplay towards my feature film.” His popularity on the site has also thrown open other freelance opportunities for him. “I have received offers from all the major newspapers to write columns,” he says. “But, why do I need 500 words if I can do the same in 140 characters? Tweeting is helping me in my film writing also. I’m able to write shorter, better dialogues. After so much difficulty, I’ve achieved the skill of brevity; I don’t want to lose it.”
Kunder started tweeting in 2009, but racked up most of his followers, including some chief ministers, last year. “I was never inclined towards politics. I had no idea what is Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha. I didn’t know which minister is from which party. But, the way things were happening in the country, I started observing current events.” His conscience received a jolt in 2013. “The Nirbhaya incident made me very angry. That incident essentially threw that government out.” Even though he’s relentless in his criticism of the current government (“I don’t like people who polarise based on community”), he doesn’t lean towards anyone else either. He claims to be anti-stupidity. “My intention is to do what RK Laxman did with cartoons — to make socially relevant points with one-liners.”
Since Twitter can easily ratchet up to a fistfight, Kunder has received his share of insults from people he labels “bhakts” and “sanghis”. “Those who agree with me and those who don’t, I can tell just by looking at their spelling. They can’t write even one sentence properly, or spell two words right. Those are the ones who come to your account and abuse you in the worst possible way. At least liberals don’t use that kind of language.” Surveying Mumbai from his tastefully furnished, 35th-floor apartment that comes with a private elevator, Kunder says he’s unafraid. “You can’t just keep silent. If you keep hiding, they will do it more and more. Be it Kanhaiya [Kumar] or AAP, you cannot be scared.” When pressed for a serious answer about his political leanings, though, Kunder backtracks.
“My point is only to make a comment in a funny way. If you see something wrong, you should speak out. Just doing your work and not being a part of the conversation is a waste of your intelligence.” Perhaps, more people from the film industry, who are saturating us with selfies, Dubsmash videos and #awesomeness, could take his advice. Kunder shows that fame and gravitas can go well together.
Who are the tweeters that Kunder follows?
Dr Kumar Vishwas
“He is very interesting. He does things in a very funny way. You see an intelligent writer there. Every time I watch him speak, I envy him. Wish I had his oratory skills.”
Steve Martin and Albert Brooks
“I really like the tweets by them. They make very witty points. Outside of India, there are many people. Because there, they’re not scared.”
“He tweets in a serious way. At least he’s socially relevant and not wasting space.”
“Omar Abdullah started following me, so I followed him back. He is good.”