Published: 15th May 2019
Meme this way: Meet the peeps who make India's best loved memes
You've shared them. You've laughed at them. You've marvelled at the wit. Have you wondered who was behind them? We talk to young meme artists in India to find out how it is helping them to
In the era of social media, the meme maker is jester and king all at once. While memes get shared across cyberspace at the speed of light, very few people stop to wonder who took the time to create these works of comic art - make no mistake, meme creation is an art form that is as satirical as Chaplin V Hitler.
So we decided to look behind the memes and find the men and women who ply this satirical trade. While for some people meme making is a full-time profession, others just dabble in it, using it as a medium to express their emotions or convey a message. From politics to controversies and sport, pretty much anything can be turned into a meme. For instance, last week, memes about different looks of actors and actresses at the Met Gala made waves across the internet. Perhaps the most viral of them all was the one linking actor Priyanka Chopra's hairdo to the late forest brigand Veerappan's famous moustache.
What are you waiting for? Let's meme the peeps who matter:
Anuj Nakade's Meme Regime
A few months ago, when Anuj's friend was asking him if he likes memes, he said that memes are in his bloodstream. Anuj Nakade is a meme artist from Pune who has not limited his art to social media but has been showcasing his memes at exhibitions. The founder of a meme exhibition called Meme Regime, it was in September 2018 that he put up his first exhibition in TIFA Working Studios in Pune. The response was overwhelming. From then, there was no looking back for Anuj and he decided to hold the same exhibition in Mumbai on February 22, 2019. Coming down South, it was held in Bengaluru on March 1 and on March 2 in Mysuru. When we asked him about how this exhibition has been able to make a difference, he explains, "It is not just an exhibition of memes. Artists come from different parts of the world and India to tell us their perspectives about memes and how they can be used to highlight the problems in the real world. In this process, I got to meet many meme artists and form a network. This May, people in Goa will be witnessing our meme exhibition," says this young artist who has already started working to set it up.
Taking them serious: Anuj Nakade will be holding Meme Regime in different parts of India
Anuj started creating memes when he was just 15 years old. Whenever he created them, he would just show it to either his parents or friends. When he graduated from college, he told his parents that he would create memes and make a living out of it. He still remembers that his parents and friends were in shocked when they heard about his choice of career. Some of his friends thought it was pretty cool though. According to Anuj, creating memes is nothing but fun. He says, "A meme is nothing but art that consists of an image and words. These words and a picture convey a deeper message or even humour. It's getting a fun thought out of your mind as unfiltered as possible."
Anuj doesn't create memes everyday, opting to do it once or twice a week. On the flip side, there have been days when Anuj has created thirty to fifty memes in a day. But that happens rarely. Big game days basically. He is good at making surreal memes which are bizarre and sometimes absurd. Though his plan is to finish law school, he wants to continue creating memes and putting up various exhibitions across India that lead to creating spaces for meme discussions and research. Anuj says that he is not a meme artist but a meme curator and a meme maker. "I am a meme curator because I buy them from others to exhibit and try to find these spicy memes in the market. At the same time, I consider myself a meme maker because I make them but have not tried my capacity at different artistic levels."
Meme page on Instagram:
Cool Spiderman: This one is the most liked meme from Anuj's Instagram page
Currently, Anuj has a meme page on Instagram called Deep Fried Neurons which has around 184 followers. He started this page in September 2018 and till date, the page has over 100 memes on it. Apart from sharing his memes, he shares memes created by other artists, with descriptions. The most liked meme on this page is a meme having pictures of a dog describing a corporate job and how to be productive at work. It has got around 72 likes. Similarly, another meme page run by Anuj along with his friend, Karan Shah was called Mutual Fund Memes. The meme which has spiderman with a hookah has got over 71 likes. It also has a message saying, 'Me after a hectic day at work commenting aayega toh Modi hi everywhere.'
Memes for the clinically depressed soul
Shreyasi Bose who has a Masters degree in English from EFLU in Hyderabad and works as an educational game designer at Byju’s started her Clinically Depressive Memes page on Facebook in 2017. It all began when she was going through a low phase and turned to memes for comfort and laughter. She says, "I am clinically depressed and have bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder and a panic disorder. A lot of us with mental illnesses express ourselves through memes. My page is one of many that deals with mental health content. My life is entrenched in my mental health, so it made sense to have that in my memes."
What do they mean: Memes mean humour, art, wit and much more for Shreyasi Bose
Since Shreyasi is clinically depressed, she makes memes whenever she feels like it. She believes in posting original content and she isn't iffy about the frequency. In a span of two years, Shreyasi's meme page has got over 20,000 followers. She says, "Memes are fun for me and I do it purely out of the pleasure of doing it. It is an art and a lot of members use their considerable skill set to make memes. Memes show humour, art, wit and much more."
Talking about some of the themes that she uses in her memes, Shreyasi says, "Memes have no themes but some of us have preferences for content. There are particular templates that people use. Apart from that, memes can be anything. You can write a line to an image and that is a meme. You can even have just text memes like a dialogue between two people etc. I even made a meme with my cat in the image."
In a short time: At present, Clinically Depressive Memes page on Facebook have over 20,000 followers
Till date, Shreyasi has posted over 100 memes and most of her stuff has won her a lot of appreciation on social media. But, according to Shreyasi, people usually like and share relatable content. So, the more vague or relatable a meme is, it gets shared accordingly. "Viewers mostly see their thoughts reflected in my page, so they appreciate the fact that at least someone said what they were thinking," she says happily.
Meme Page on Facebook
Her meme page on facebook is called 'Clinically Depressive Memes'
The most liked meme on her facebook page is a picture of a bear with text that reads:
Person: I like you
Me: You are heading directly into the path of danger my friend
It has got over 83 likes
So cute: Shreyasi Bose's most likes meme from her facebook page
Satire on her mind
Memes can be classified either by the kind of audience that they appeal to or by the art style. Sometimes, people use doodles or comics or clip art to convey a message which also gets counted as memes. Rachita Taneja is a comic artist from Bengaluru who uses the panel form to drive memes. She made her first comic when she was studying Mass Communication at Delhi University. In 2014, she made her first comic when her friends got arrested for expressing their political opinions. "I made a comic to criticise PM Modi. The meme was about him delivering a speech in public and when students criticised him, they were thrown behind the jail. That's how my art got a momentum," says Rachita.
Social media fans: Rachita's meme on facebook standards got over 8,000 likes and was shared drastically on all the social media platforms
At present, she runs a page on facebook called Sanitary Panels where she keeps posting about feminism and the challenges that women go through. Her most liked and shared comic was about Indian men criticising women for not following a western culture of talking frankly about sex and the next picture was about a woman expressing that she likes sex because if which people called her a slut. "I made a comic strip about Facebook community standards but what led to the creation of this comic is more interesting. I wrote 'Men are trash' on my facebook page and Facebook blocked my page for three days. But my question was about when people call me dirty words and abuse me online, Facebook never takes down those comments. So I created this comic in order to criticise their standards. I got over 8,000 shares and it got shared on the international circuit also. Unfortunately, Facebook took down the comic after a week. However my friends had taken a screenshot of it and they shared it on their page. They also tagged facebook in their posts. Eventually, they had to put it back on my page."
Cyber case: Some times her memes created to criticise politics were misused by trollers
Surprisingly, Rachita's comic strips which she designed to criticise politics were misused. She says, "Many Modi followers used my art and changed the wording or message to make it sound pro-Modi. They had posted it on their Instagram page too. I wrote a complaint to Instagram to take it down from the trolls page. They took it down twice but unfortunately, the comic art keeps circulating. Therefore it's very difficult to stop something from getting viral when it goes on social media."
Something serious: Her memes are creative, humurous and convey a serious message relevant to the current situation in society
Most popular on Facebook
Rachita is a freelance comic artist who works with different companies and designs their content into comics. She has a page on Facebook called Sanitary Panels and she usually posts the doodles that she draws along with a message written on it.
Her recent post on BJP's revolutionary liquid soap got over 305 likes
Super popular memes that we found
Success kid (also known as "I hate sandcastles") became popular in around 2008 when a photo of a smug baby at the beach was used across the web on social media, mainly as personal profile photographs
Grumpy Cat is a particularly irritable looking cat who goes by the real name "Tardar Sauce". This meme again took off thanks to Reddit, in late 2012 when original photos of Grumpy Cat were posted online.
Amitabh Bachchan's photo from KBC with a message saying that he will not be able to help a common man in any circumstances. This message refers to the Indian Judiciary system
The memeable still from the 1950 Tamil movie Andha Naal with five family members holding a gun in their hand.