What you see is not what you get

Anjali Jhangiani
Saturday, 25 August 2018

Anjali Jhangiani explores why mash-up videos continue to excite the makers and the takers alike

Browsing the internet, we came across this video of the royal wedding held earlier this year and saw James Corden talking about how he’s delighted thinking about the kulfi dessert, Amal Clooney in all her yellow talking about how someone she met there accused her of stealing a thali from a previous wedding and wearing it as a hat in this one, Kate Middleton complaining about how her ears were swollen because she had to wear such heavy jhumkas at another function, and the choir master leading the orchestra to play I Love You Sayyoni. It was simultaneously bizarre and brilliant. 

While scrolling through your news feed on various social media, you might have come across these mash-up videos where what you see and what you hear are juxtaposed. This started about a year ago, and unlike most online trends, it seems like this one is here to stay for a while longer. 

The content

Recently there have been mash-up videos of scenes from Avengers: Infinity War featuring Thanos popping up in the digital space. East India Comedy posted a video where the big purple villain drags his beloved daughter Gamora on the planet Vormir. They contrasted this highly emotional scene with the audio from the melodramatic end scene of Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge with Babuji saying “Jaa Simran Jaa...” as Thanos tosses her off a cliff so he can procure the Soul Stone. Dark, yes but funny nonetheless. 

Viraj Pradhan, social media head at East India Comedy, says, “We have been doing video mash-ups for a long time too. Recently we got really obsessed with old cartoons and films and we’ve been doing a series of mash-up videos with them. Most of our memes are about whatever song, movie, or show my team is obsessed with at that moment.”

Samarth Mathur, social media manager for Gaana.com, who has also worked on these mash-up videos for his clients, talks about noticing a surge in this trend after Nucleya’s multi-city tour last year titled Sub Cinema. “I think it became a ‘thing’ when mainstream artists like Nucleya introduced the concept of mash-ups on his last tour. Mash-ups of Bollywood clips were playing on the massive LEDs in the background throughout Nucleya’s set,” he recalls.

He points out that the content of these memes is subject to change everyday. “Like,the world was obsessed with Chai Peelo Aunty. Then the Kiki Challenge, then a video of two famous people hugging.”

By the time the world was getting obsessed with the Chai Peelo Aunty, the meme community had already moved on to someone else,” he explains. There are thousands of memes made and uploaded on the internet every minute, in every format. “EIC, All India Bakchod (AIB) or BuzzFeed are not the only ones creating content, now even a user with hardly 10 followers is making memes. And it’s a good thing — this country needs to learn to see the funnier side of things,” says Pradhan.

But the funniest part is that you never know what will go on to become a meme trend. “Why is a lady asking her friends to have garam chai funny? No one knows. But people love it. I hope she is on the next Koffee with Karan season having chai with all the other meme celebrities like Gormint Aunty, SaltBae and NagarPalika guy,” he quips, adding, “Our job as memers is to constantly evolve our humour, create more meme formats and look out for the next viral trend or better create one.”

The ‘viral’ factor

Like most things in life, timing is paramount for the success of these videos. Mathur says, “The timing is the most important part! Getting the lip movements or overall choreography in the original video rightly matched with the chosen song plays the most integral part. The second thing taken into consideration is what’s trending. 
For example, right now, you will find a lot of videos featuring clips from Priyanka Chopra’s earlier films mashed up with a song by Nick Jonas.”

There are many different kinds of mash-up videos, and each type has different ‘viral’ factors to consider. Talking about these categories, Pradhan says, “When you look at a meme, all you see is a funny video but there’s a lot more that goes behind it. The idea, the edit, the design, the captions, the topicality, and so on. Then there’s the pressure of making sure that you’re the first one to crack that joke. It is almost scientific.”

Generic mash-ups are where you take a video and a song, and sync the dance moves to the beat, like the videos featuring Baburao from Hera Pheri dancing to a popular EDM track, or Sunny Deol grooving to Sia’s Cheap Thrills.

Pradhan shares, “The videos we have been doing for the EIC social media belong to a more evolved format of mash-ups. Editing these is slightly difficult but I have some ‘boss’ editors in my team. We choose a song which has a funny connection to the video it is being synced with. Basically, we try to add another layer of joke to the sync that will follow.”

Pradhan’s team worked on videos like the Led Zeppelin song Stairway to Heaven synced to the iconic scene from Hum Aapke Hain Koun..! where Renuka Shahane falls down the stairs, and the original motion picture soundtrack See You Again from Furious 7 with visuals of Katekar and Sartaj from Scared Games. “These videos had ‘feels’ written all over them!” he says. 

But not all their videos will make you feel a stab of guilt for laughing at it. “During the 7th season of Game of Thrones, we did musical recaps after every episode. We’d mash up iconic scenes with Hindi songs. For example, Jon Snow coming back to Daenerys Targaryen had the audio of the song Mera Piya Ghar Aaya from movie Yaraana,” he describes. 

Pradhan points out how memes have become a way of life now. “Meme partners are a real thing. People talk in meme references. Don’t believe me? Watch our video about this or watch my team talk for five minutes! We watch movies or trailers and immediately look for meme-worthy moments. It’s like subconscious process. We can’t not meme stuff,” he says, adding, “I call these people HuMeme Beings. Patent pending.”

Audience love

The reason this trend hasn’t died out already is that the audiences just can’t get enough of it — be it Hollywood movie scenes dubbed in Bhojpuri, interviews of Bollywood celebrities dubbed as a brawl, or videos of politicians edited to use rather unparliamentary language. “While most of the trends last for a month, this concept has managed to trend for more than a year or two,” says Mathur, adding, “My favourite mash-up videos are definitely by this guy named Dipraj Jadhav. His video of Jethalal Champaklal Gada (one of the main characters in the Hindi sitcom Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah) dancing to DJ Snake’s Magenta Riddim has got over 1.5 million views!”

Jadhav’s Instagram account boasts of loads of hilarious mash-up videos including the video of the current Prime Minister’s speech in the Parliament synced to the Indipop song Tera Ghata, Zeenat Aman in her original Laila O Laila from Qurbani singing Camila Cabello’s smash hit Havana, Childish Gambino’s controversial video of This is America (which received a lot of flak due to its alleged insensitivity towards the school shootings in the US) synced to My Name Is Lakhan from Anil Kapoor-starrer Ram Lakhan. 

Pradhan lists an iconic Rishi Kapoor proposal scene to the funniest mash-ups he’s come across. “That video did so well even Rishi Kapoor tweeted it,” he says, adding that his other favourites include some of his team’s work. “We did a mash-up with scenes from the American television series Brooklyn Nine-Nine with the Dilbar remake recently and the fans responded in great numbers. Our Bob the Builder and Lagaan mash-up made a lot of people miss their childhood — one even commented saying he wanted to rewatch it, but I’m not sure whether he meant our video, the Aamir Khan movie or the cartoon show. I hope he meant our video,” says Pradhan. 

He reveals that the EIC social media team is always excited to read the comments 10 minutes after a funny video goes live. “Comments on the video range from ‘You have ruined this song for me!’ to ‘This is the best thing on the internet today.’ Some people will comment with their own meme captions, others suggest more shows and songs that can be ‘meme-ed’,” he says adding that the internet is a funny place — it can give you intense validation and can take it away in the very next second.

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