Interview: @indhavaainko, An Anonymous Handle That Has Taken Tamil Social Media By Storm Thanks To Hilarious Parody Songs
indhavaainko, an anonymous handle, has taken Tamil social media by storm thanks to hilarious parody songs.
In an email interview with Swarajya, @ndhavaainko shared thoughts on the role of satire in driving political discourse in Tamil cyberworld, content creation process, ongoing ideological contestation in Tamil Nadu, how safe it is to parody politicians etc.
Here are edited excerpts from the interview.
Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview
Your viral parody videos suggest that you consume a lot of political content produced in Tamil Cyberworld. So when did you start following politics?
I used to follow political happenings in bits and pieces during my college days, but it is a shame to admit that I started to follow politics actively only after 2004. As a voter, it was a watershed moment for me when Vajpayee was not reelected despite a successful tenure. At that time, many of us did not understand the role of the media in influencing the perception of voters. Only after the advent of the social media era did the voice of actual citizens find an outlet. And only after Facebook and Twitter succeeded did people like me start to pen our views.
You have pioneered a new form of political satire in social media by repurposing popular Tamil songs to present contemporary politics humorously. So tell us something about your musical interests and sensibilities. Have you ever received any formal music training?
Thank you for acknowledging my "Musical Aptitude" :-). "Meme" is the Gen Z word for any form of satire. But our intent is not about creating memes. There are 1000s of ppl who are better at it.
Tamilnadu is one state where movie heroes have shaped politics. I am not talking merely about three former chief ministers (M.G. Ramachandran, Karunanidhi, and Jayalalitha) who hailed from cinema industry backgrounds. It is much more than that. Using cinema (and the entertainment industry as a whole) as a political propaganda tool is the primary reason for the success of DMK (primarily) and ADMK (to an extent).
I don't own a studio to create content from scratch. So the easiest way to reach masses with an alternate political view is to recreate famous songs with lyrics that would convey what we want to say. It has been received well so far :-). I also wish to say that we did not pioneer repurposing popular film songs as political satire. This was how Maestro Iliayaraaja started his musical career back in the 60s. I don't have any formal musical training. Raja is more than an inspiration for me as far as music is concerned. I wouldn't call him a Guru as he might not appreciate it :-)
Tamil cyberworld (across the political spectrum) revels in producing hilarious film-inspired memes. Also, the ability to channelise a Vadivel comedy track to any given political situation is remarkable. What explains this?
Memes have been an effective medium for quite some time now. But they are all over the internet now. And some of them have started hitting below the belt, but we will never do it as the message will be lost in the humor. And I believe memes will start losing their power unless it is more focused with a good recall value. I like Vadivelu a lot, but I am Goundamani fan :). These great comedians have produced so much content that can inspire us for a lifetime.
The first two videos you produced on the finance minister of Tamil Nadu (an otherwise erudite person) catapulted you to instant popularity on Twitter. What was the inspiration behind those two videos? Of course, modesty and humility is not something we can accuse Tamil Nadu Finance Minister of, but any particular event triggered the videos.?
I am a great fan of BoneyM's Rasputin. The lyrics of that song always created a curiosity about that character Rasputin. Like Rasputin, I saw PTR (finance minister of Tamil Nadu) as unstoppable with his attitude mocking people who questioned him.
I was taken aback by how an elected representative(a finance minister) went on a mocking spree targetting ordinary netizens. And that too in response to rather innocuous criticism. It was disappointing that such a condescending, arrogant, patronizing, supercilious, haughty person was at the helm. He started terming anyone who disagreed with him as uninformed and uneducated (I don't have to stress again about his boasting of his legacy in every interview). All this was running in my mind, and when I saw somebody coined him a name "DWD - Double Watch Douglas" after he explained why he sported two watches (for his legacy's sake). So I thought he must be trolled in a sophisticated way that he understands, not with memes. Thus came Dow Dow Douglasu Double Watch Douglasu (Ra Ra Rasputin :))
Except during the brief tenure of Edapadi Palanisamy when the citizenry and media could mock and deride ruling party politicians without any fear of consequences, the state (both under DMK/ADMK under Jayalalithaa) is intolerant to critics. We have seen media offices burned and those expressing political dissent arrested. Jayalalithaa filed hundreds of defamation cases against critics in media and outside. The DMK government of Stalin has jailed critics under the draconian Goondas Act. Does this climate of intolerance weigh on your mind when producing content?
To be honest, i don't know enough about this issue. We decide to operate anonymously under the handle "IndhaVaainko" because we believe that our attempt at humour should reach wider audiences. Staying anonymous helps in focusing on the message rather than the messenger.
Tamil cyberworld is full of colorful characters doing political analysis. From Seeman followers to Dravidian-Periyarists to evangelical support to Sangh supporters, it does have some diversity. Who are your favourite personalities, especially from a parody potential perspective?
We did a series called "Conversations" where we have featured these characters :). From DWD, to Neutral Raman (Sumanth Raman) to Sarakku Shankar (Savukku Shankar) to China Periyaar (Thiruvalluvar) we've featured all of them :). Season 2 is underway.
We do understand your need for anonymity. Tell us something about yourself without revealing much? Especially on your educational and professional background?
I am an Engineer by Education and a Nationalist at Heart. Music runs in our family.
A lot of people enjoyed your video on Punjab CM Channi. Do you follow politics outside Tamil Nadu?
Not regional politics outside TN. Channi song happened through a random idea that came from one of our follower's tweets. There is one more Hindi song planned after the election results on March 10th.
Obviously, your video demonstrates your political preference, and you're pretty overt about it. If not electorally, BJP has gained mindshare in Tamil land, especially after the elevation of former police cop Annamalai as their leader. How do you see the political scenario in Tamil Nadu evolving?
I am one among those 1000s of Rajnikanth fans who were banking on him for a political change in TN. I was keenly looking forward to the arrival of Super Star Rajnikanth on political centre stage. I believe that his intent was good and, with his film background and larger-than-life persona, he could attract voters and sow the seed for a political change in TN. But it did not materialise. And the only other alternative I see is BJP, as it is more or less aligned to my way of looking at things (I am an Indian from Tamilnadu and not a Tamil from India).
BJP as a party didn't inspire confidence, and many like me to be an alternate political force in TN. So we backed Rajnikanth. I work in the private sector, and I even decided to take a sabbatical in 2021 to work for his party during election time. After he announced it would not happen, and after Annamalai took over TN BJP, there is new hope for people like me for alternate nationalistic political ideas in TN.
The last question is on content creation. Do you do all of this by yourself? Do you have some volunteers helping with ideas and execution?
We have a team of like-minded people for creative brainstorming and execution. All of us either have a full-time business or a job. We do this out of our special interest for ushering in a political change in TN. And we are not a part of any IT wing, and no one pays us to create content. Our only aim is to oppose the DK (Dravidar Kazhagam) ecosystem tooth and nail through hard-hitting decent creative content that could easily penetrate people's minds with a good recall value. We also use the content suggestions and lyrics from our followers and give due credits to them. That has worked wonders.
A parody video of @indhavaainko that went viral nationally
Thank you so much for the responses. We wish you the best.
Twitter handle: https://twitter.com/indhavaainko
As you are no doubt aware, Swarajya is a media product that is directly dependent on support from its readers in the form of subscriptions. We do not have the muscle and backing of a large media conglomerate nor are we playing for the large advertisement sweep-stake.
Our business model is you and your subscription. And in challenging times like these, we need your support now more than ever.
We deliver over 10 - 15 high quality articles with expert insights and views. From 7AM in the morning to 10PM late night we operate to ensure you, the reader, get to see what is just right.
Becoming a Patron or a subscriber for as little as Rs 1200/year is the best way you can support our efforts.