In ‘Basti Bounce’, a groovy single released by Bengaluru-based hip-hop star Brodha V on January 11, the comedy duo JordIndian (comprising Vineeth ‘Beep’ Kumar and Nasser Al Azzeh aka Nas) features in a colourful street fight. The song, powered by Brodha V’s amazing lyrical prowess and JordIndian’s hilarious acts and dance moves, has already got over 23 lakh views on YouTube. The duo’s quirky and relatable comedy sketches, often delivered in Indian and Arab accents, are inspired by the streets, their surroundings and the people they know. Over the last six years, they have created a unique fandom, with over 27.5 lakh followers and 5.5 crore views on YouTube alone.
“Two friends, one from Jordan and the other from India, came together and said, ‘Hey... Let’s make some videos’. Hence the journey of JordIndian began,”―that is how they describe their origin on their YouTube bio. But there are backstories that go back to the late 1980s. “My dad is a Jordanian with a Palestinian bloodline. And my mom is Indian,” says Nas. “My dad studied in Bengaluru, and my mom grew up there. They met through mutual friends. I was born [in the Middle East]. We were in Kuwait at that time. With the war going on in 1990, we had to move. We went to Jordan for a while, and then came back to Bengaluru. So, I am half-Jordanian. And that explains the Jord part of JordIndian.” The two were batch-mates in senior secondary school in the late 2000s, and they bonded over a joke by Canadian stand-up comedian Russell Peters. According to one version of the story, Nas was explaining a joke to a friend, and Kumar eavesdropped on the conversation and gate-crashed into it. They soon realised that they were from the same neighbourhood, too.
“Another thing on which we connected was hip-hop,” says Nas, who founded The Black Ice Crew, a professional break-dancing crew. The crew―which has brought to the limelight some of the top break-dancers in the country―was formed after Nas’s high school girlfriend told him that he was no dancer. “Black Ice became a crew with B-boys, breakers and beatboxers.…,” says Nas. “And, an emcee (pointing at Kumar). We started in college. At that point, I guess we thought that this was going to be a career. Which went to a certain point where we were making a living out of it. And then we founded JordIndian, which made better money.”
It was during his emceeing days that ‘Beep’ became Kumar’s stage name. There are multiple narratives about how that happened. “The real story is that I was a good child when I was growing up. I never used bad words. And, if someone ever used bad words, I used to cover their mouth and say, ‘Beep’,” says Kumar with a deadpan expression. “So, one of our friends, Likith, gave me the name Beep. And it just stuck with me.”
JordIndian was formed in 2016―eight years after Russell Peters brought the duo together. Before that, they were pursuing different careers. “Nas was in Dubai and I was in Mumbai for a while,” says Kumar. “We were creating content for other people. But whenever we came back, I think we missed each other a lot more.” Nas adds that there came a point when both of them were not enjoying their respective jobs. “We were sitting in the car and discussing people putting up all these cringe videos,” he says. “We were like, we can do so much better probably. So, we gave it a try.” They gave themselves six months to “follow their gut” and try things out. “And here we are, six years later,” says Kumar.
‘Smoke Shisha, Play Fifa’, a music video they released four years ago, is JordIndian’s greatest hit so far. The rap which spoke about the Arab elites’ fancies and fantasies got more than 1.9 crore views on YouTube. The idea of ‘Smoke Shisha, Play Fifa’ was born during the duo’s trip to Jordan around 11 years back. “Beep asked this genuine question: What do people do here for fun? At that point, there was no party scene in Jordan,” says Nas. “There was no real place to go except to visit monuments and all of that stuff, and food. And what people did for fun in the evenings was, literally, to smoke shisha and play Fifa. Likewise, all our videos come from real-life experiences.”
During the pandemic, the duo came up with the song, ‘Eat, Sleep, Binge, Repeat’, to pay homage to their lifestyle that became the world’s staple during the lockdown. “We were always following that lifestyle. Eat, Sleep, Binge, Repeat. It is just that the world caught up with us during the pandemic,” says Kumar. “And we became 2X that lifestyle,” adds Nas.
This ‘take it easy’ philosophy reflected in their answers when THE WEEK quizzed them about their long-term plans. “We are the kind of guys who focus on short-term plans―and that also does not work out. So, we do not go for the long-term,” says Nas. “Our next short-term plan is to go eat lunch. So that is how we plan things.”
And, when making comedy, they are not too concerned about being “politically correct”. “Being politically correct and incorrect changes every six minutes in this day and age. So, we try not to focus too much on it,” says Kumar. But they accept that what people see onscreen is a “censored, watered down” version of what they talk about behind closed doors. “When we talk to each other, it is always in an unadulterated way. It is raw,” says Nas. “One day, when the world is ready for it, hopefully, we can share that version of us, too.”