That very-human impulse to react on Twitter…

[Continued from the earlier post titled, The Violence of Words]

December 2001.

Shah Rukh Khan has just moved into his sprawling new mansion in Bandra, Mannat. It was earlier called Villa Vienna, and given his recent hits like Mohabbatein and Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham, there has been a steady increase of people outside Mannat, to get a glimpse of their superstar.

Vikas had come to Bombay all the way from Gwalior. His agenda was simple – cover as much of Bombay in 2 days as possible and spend the second day (a Sunday) afternoon outside Mannat to get just one glimpse of Shah Rukh Khan, his hero!

While in the autorickshaw, Vikas strikes up a conversation with the auto driver, Sundar, and finds out that there is a Mannat tour guide who knows the inside out of the outer part of Mannat. Sundar promises Vikas that he will personally introduce him to the guide, Sudhir, for a fee. Vikas agrees to the fee (a princely sum for him – Rs.750!) and true to his word, Vikas is soon with Sudhir.

Sudhir takes Vikas to one side of Mannat where there aren’t many fans, though the outside of the building is full of fans looking up at the windows and the balconies to get a glimpse of King Khan.

Sudhir offers Vikas a vantage point to the main balcony from which Shah Rukh Khan often waves at the crowd below on days when he is at home. Today is one such day and Sudhir instructs Vikas to wait for the Khan to come to the balcony. Then, he offers a trade secret to Vikas: “Shah Rukh will come to the balcony… stroll across it and come to this side corner of the balcony and then you’ll be the closest to him. Shout whatever you want from this spot and he can hear you. If you are lucky, he may even smile at you directly and perhaps say something to you directly too!”

Vikas was thrilled! Imagine Shah Rukh Khan… the King Khan!… saying something to him!

Sudhir was right, that day… Vikas’s lucky day!

Shah Rukh Khan walks into the balcony and waves at the people gathered outside. The crowd goes wild, as expected.

Vikas waits patiently in his vantage point and true to Sudhir’s words, Shah Rukh Khan walks up to that corner of the balcony and waves again. Vikas shouts, to the best of his ability, “SHAH RUKH BHAAAAI…. MAIN VIKAS… AAPKAA BIGGEST FAN!”

Vikas’s voice must have been really loud, because the next instant Shah Rukh Khan was looking down straight at him! And the Khan sends a flying kiss to Vikas.

Vikas was on cloud nine by now. He couldn’t believe his luck and he immediately makes up a mental note of how he is going to narrate this glorious experience to people back in Gwalior and who he has to tell this to!

—–

April 2009.

Karan Johar had finalized the set to shoot a part of My Name is Khan. The next schedule is going to be in San Francisco and was clearly going to be grueling. He had to find a mosque to shoot at and his crew was finding it difficult to zero-in on one yet.

But that can wait for now. Right now, Karan’s priority was to explain the scene to Tanay Chheda, the child actor fresh from the success of Slumdog Millionnaire. The set was erected to resemble Borivali’s chawl and everything was ready for the take. There was a small crowd of fans that had managed to sneak into the corner of the set unknown to the unit.

The camera rolls, on Karan’s order and Tanay is doing well. Minutes pass, the shot is canned and Karan is very happy. That day’s shoot is over and Karan calls for a wrap.

As he walks towards his chair, he hears a loud guffaw from the corner that he had not noticed till now.

“Abey O Karan hai na… woh gay hai… tujhe maaloom nahi?”

Karan is furious… understandably. He rushes to the small crowd that now seems excited by the prospect of meeting, and perhaps talking to, Karan Johar.

Karan bellows: ‘Kisna bola abhi… mere baare main?’.

The crowd is silent.

Karan shouts at them again. No one reacts. They are all shell shocked to witness this outburst from Karan.

After a few seconds, Karan realizes the futility of what he was doing. The small bunch of people… no one is going to come forward. Karan moves away in an angry huff, still unable to get that sentence off his mind.

—–

28th January, 2017

Anurag Kashyap is furious. He has been watching video clips of Sanjay Leela Bhansali being attacked by a fringe group called Karni Sena, at the sets of Padmavati in Rajasthan.

He is so angry that he picks up his phone and shares a string of tweets denouncing the incident.

Given his 224,000+ followers on Twitter, his mentions tab lights up quickly. He is getting responses fast and thick, from all directions. Within seconds of his initial tweets, he is inundated with nearly 5,000+ tweets!

Anurag is flabbergasted. So many views and opinions, from all directions! If he was standing on a podium and saying the same thing, imagine the entire audience, in front of him below the podium, shouting to him at the same time! That’s precisely what was unfolding.

He quickly glances his mentions tab. He couldn’t read all of them, but a few catch his attention. There’s one from a Raj. There’s another from a Luv Singh. And then there’s one more from Tushar.

But there is one from an Amarjeet that seems particularly taunting! Amarjeet says, in his tweet, “When we do take a stand, you’ll be nowhere, Anurag. Just sleep over it, your alcohol high will be off and you will be back to Earth”.

Anurag is furious! “How dare this chap say this! Let me show it to him”… and off goes Anurag, letting a string of Twitter responses directed at Amarjeet, Tushar, Raj and Luv Singh.

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Those folks couldn’t be more happier. This is precisely what they wanted – a reaction from Anurag! And today is their lucky day – they got it!

Now, they are going to go to town retweeting reactions for their prized response!

Meanwhile, Vikas Pathak tries a different tactic. He responds to Anurag, by tagging Karan Johar, “hey buddy let me give u free advice stop sleeping with @karanjohar”

That must have hit particularly hard because within a minute, at 10pm, Karan tweets a furious response, but posted as a quote-tweet, aiming to showcase what a lowlife Vikas is.

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“That will show this Vikas what he is, who he is… how dare he!”, fumes Karan as he tweets.

But Vikas was waiting just for this reaction! His mentions tab goes haywire instantly. He has after all been quote-tweeted by none other than Karan Johar. He had expected a reaction from Anurag to whom he had tweeted originally, but this is even better! Karan has almost 10 million followers and a reaction from him means his mentions tab is going to be very, very busy for a long time.

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5 minutes later, Indraneel tries to reason with Vikas about the kind of language and thought he has posted on Twitter and how his family, co-workers may see him, after this.

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Vikas seems unrepentant. He goes on to explain his stand to Indraneel, but soon Indraneel loses interest in the argument since it ends with, “oh yeah i hav problm u hav no problm..hey buddy get a beer 4 urslwf..u dnt know what u talking” from Vikas’s side.

—–

The point? A reaction is all they want. Decide carefully who you want to react to. And how. Impulsive reactions will come and haunt you a lot more.

Yes, we are all human and when reactions come in thick and fast from every direction, it is almost impossible to not react. Quick, caustic responses seem like a great way to get some steam off. But what you don’t realize is that this is exactly they are waiting for. Do not give them what they are craving for. The logic is similar to FoE (freedom of expression) – if you don’t like it, ignore it (say, offered to Karni Sena, with regard to Padmavati).

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  • Gokul Krishna

    I think the people who read this would be the people who already follow it I guess, Nevertheless a necessary write-up.

    Apart, has there been a Black Mirror Episode in respect of what you’ve written?
    I just seen till season 2 though, Reminds me a bit of Waldo. 🙂