It's been a wild year for Indians on Twitter. PM Modi and his entourage embraced social media enthusiastically, so did other politicians and big names across various expertise, shifting the base of armchair discussions, trolling, name-calling and chest-thumping to the platform. There were good stories too, as people connected easily with their favourite celebrities, engaged in conversations or reveled in their wit and humour.
Filmmakers, actors, journalists, diplomats, writers and trolls—they all had their fair share of Twitter fame this year. But some tweets went viral and are more likely to be remembered than others. Here's a quick round-up of the most viral tweets of the year that Twitterers will remember for a while:
Shah Rukh Khan stuck at the US airport again
Detained at the Los Angeles airport once again in August, Shah Rukh Khan put out his frustration through tweets that quickly went viral, as Indians asked why the US airport authorities were not aware of his “stardom”.
I fully understand & respect security with the way the world is, but to be detained at US immigration every damn time really really sucks.— Shah Rukh Khan (@iamsrk) August 12, 2016
The tweet was followed by another one an hour later: “The brighter side is while waiting caught some really nice Pokemons.” Both the tweets got more than 20,000 favourites, 13,000 retweets and 4,300 replies. This was the third time, after 2009 and 2012, that Khan was stopped at a US airport because someone with the same name was in the 'no-fly list'.
Shobhaa De's Olympics fiasco
De drew flak for her 'insensitive tweet' during the Olympics. On August 8, De tweeted:
Goal of Team India at the Olympics: Rio jao. Selfies lo. Khaali haat wapas aao. What a waste of money and opportunity.— Shobhaa De (@DeShobhaa) August 8, 2016
She said this just a few days after the Olympics had begun in Rio, when India's performance had not yet shined as expected. The backlash was massive and De was trolled and abused. The drama lasted a few days. Her tweet got nearly 12,000 replies, 896 retweets and 1,400 favourites. When badminton champ P.V. Sindhu won a medal, breaking India's bleak performance, twitterers brought up De's comment again. Her tweets following medal wins by Sindhu and wrestler Sakshi Malik were seen by some as “damage control”.
Virender Sehwag's Morgan comeback
The king of dad jokes on Twitter, Sehwag's tweets are often a source of light humour. But jokes and funny birthday wishes are not the only reason for his popularity among Twitterati. During the Olympics, British journalist Piers Morgan provoked Indian sports fans by tweeting, “Country with 1.2 billion people wildly celebrates 2 losing medals. How embarrassing is that?” Sehwag, with his legendary wit, responded:
Sehwag was showered with praise, and he was retweeted more than 20,000 times with 33,200 favourites and 2,900 replies. Morgan riled up the crowd again a week later when he bet Sehwag “one million rupees to charity” that England won an ODI world cup before India wins “another Olympic Gold”. Being the bigger person, Sehwag did not respond to the tweet, instead choosing to ignore the obvious jibe.
Chetan Bhagat's misunderstood tweets
Author Chetan Bhagat has been the butt of many jokes and trolls on Twitter this year. Whether it was his attempt at promoting his latest novel One Indian Girl, his spat with Twinkle Khanna, Manish Sisodia or getting trolled by Piers Morgan for misspelling his name, Bhagat had been in the limelight often. Earlier in March, he had directed a tweet at Pakistanis when India won a World T20 match against it. “See Pakistan if your forefathers hadn't insisted on partition, you wouldn't have to see this day,” it said, and wasn't well received by both Indians and Pakistanis. Recently, when the Supreme Court ordered theatres to play the national anthem before a film, Bhagat surprised everyone by speaking against it.
Sushma Swaraj's tweets of hope
The beacon of hope for NRIs and Indians stranded abroad, Swaraj is known for swooping in to save the day. The minister of external affairs has had a busy year. She rescued Indians stranded in Yemen, helped people who lost their passports abroad, and assisted foreigners lost in India. She quickly sorted out passport and visa issues for numerous Indians going abroad or PIOs coming to India. Whenever someone tweeted to her for help, she ensured they were helped—even if she was recovering in the hospital. All of these tweets went viral, along with her personal tweets. When she mentioned that she was admitted in a hospital for kidney failure, nearly 35,000 wishes of speedy recovery were tweeted back to her.
Anurag Kashyap's ADHM rant
In the aftermath of the Uri attack in September, there was massive backlash against signing Pakistani artists in Bollywood films. With Karan Johar's Ae Dil Hai Mushkil close to its release date, a group of cinema exhibitors banned the film owing to Fawad Khan's presence. Anurag Kashyap spoke up for Johar on Twitter and criticised Modi, inviting the wrath of hundreds of people. In his long rant, he questioned why films had to be banned in the name of nationalism.
I would rather ask my questions directly to the PM than trying to impress him by fake nationalism of banning "what puts you in news"— Anurag Kashyap (@anuragkashyap72) October 16, 2016
Besides 2,500 favourites and 1,700 retweets, he got nearly 2,000 replies, most of which slammed his rant.
Twinkle Khanna's #MarriedNotBranded
Mrs. Funnybones is not just funny—she shuts down chauvinistic trolls gracefully and reacts to criticism elegantly. Sometimes, her tweets are personal, revolving around her husband and two children. At other times, she would be responding to current issues in her own witty manner that is hard to argue against, whether it is her view on karva chauth or even Art of Living. But the tweet that wins the most, by making a feminist statement, has to be this one:
A follower repeatedly tweeted to say that she should change her last name. Khanna's epic response got nearly 4,000 favourites and 1,000 retweets.
Misdirected anger against an ad
In August, a viral illustration of the Draupadi Vastraharan—with Krishna shopping for “extra long sarees” on the Myntra app—quickly drew flak from the public. The ad using Myntra's logo was part of a series of illustrations by Scroll Droll, which had other pictures with Hindu deities using other popular apps. But before any of that could be explained, twitterers who were offended jumped to #BoycottMyntra and deride the brand. By the end of the day, after Myntra made their stand clear and Scroll Droll apologised, most of the anger cooled off. Coincidentally, at around the same time, Flipkart had also released a TV commercial that didn't go down well with the Gurkha community.