Not just for laughs

Faking News Website  

‘Irked by Chennai Express, Kollywood hits back; announces Rajdhani Express starring Vijaykanth’ reads a headline in The Unreal Times. ‘China to send fake terrorists in army uniforms for future incursions’, reads a headline in Faking News.

They make you laugh. And they make you think. The new age satire, spoof and parody sites have gained cult status in recent years with such websites setting the trend for more out there. More than providing escapist entertainment, these websites have started contributing food for thought and focusing on bringing about changes. A look at five such websites and the brains behind them…

Faking News

F aking News has come a long way since its inception as a blog and now it’s a widely read and anticipated news satire website. Their editorial team has a few youngsters who work towards the betterment of Indian satirical news. Chandan Kumar and Vikram Bhalla are two such youngsters at Faking News who changed their careers and joined Faking News as full-timers.

Chandan Kumar was working as a software engineer and wrote satire as a hobby for Faking News 2.0, when he was offered a full-time job. Vikram Bhalla, in his own words, was a regular, thankless and unpaid contributor for Faking News who got a full-time job when it expanded.

Striking a chord among the readers, Faking News has the right mix of humour, satire and parody. Asked about its impact amongst the readers, Chandan says, “I am not saying that these websites will create an immediate impact but yes, slowly and steadily, they will work for sure. They are like slow antidote.” Vikram feels that satire of this kind is still in a nascent stage in India. “But we have managed to form a strong loyal base who understand our sarcasm and are able to relate to it,” he adds.


Fake News India

Ravi Moirangthem, editor of Fake News India, goes by the mantra ‘If you can’t face the news, fake it’. Born in a family of writers, Ravi’s penchant for this profession was only logical. A passionate writer, he founded Fake News India while he was pursuing MBA. Managing the writing, advertising and website maintenance himself, Ravi has come a long way in making the website a successful one.

Fake News India posts political satire, besides business, sports, technology and entertainment parody as well. “A satire site like Fake News India exists as a distorting mirror to the society reflecting back the same image, but caricatured and overblown, hopefully, rendering a new perspective–feat that mainstream newspapers cannot accomplish, says Ravi.

Satire websites are a recent phenomenon in this country and Ravi feels that the conditions need to improve. “Sadly there have already been instances of internet censorship. So until the next constitutional amendment provides for special provision protecting satire writers, I would refrain from many topics that may invite trouble,” says he.


Mocking Now

Started out as a hobby, Mocking Now aims to send out serious message in a lighter vein. Praveen Tiwari, the man behind the website, is a IIT-Kanpur graduate whose keen interest in politics, sports and societal happenings, led to its inception. “The inspiration was in a way automatic, a result of two things — having interest in what happens around politically, socially, and otherwise; and having the passion to express opinion on at least some of those,” says Praveen.

Being a one-man army, Praveen is the editor, content creator and news writer for the website. He posts an average of 10-15 posts per month under various topics. “I would like Mocking Now to grow into some sort of a ‘Newtainment’ brand (News + Entertainment) in the times to come, where the medium to entertain people along with the relevant news is not just text.”


News That Matters Not

Founded by Tanay Sukumar, who just finished his engineering, News That Matters Not is one site that goes beyond political satire and humour and posts articles that everyone can relate to. Numerous discussions with friends in school and college about the society, people and politics made Tanay realise that today’s generation had a lot to say but they needed a proper platform to do so. And hence, NTMN was born with the aim of encouraging people to say what they wanted to, in a different way and to give the serious news a humorous twist.

Currently running with a team of 17 editorial members, Kumar Pratik and Sugandha manage the website and have made sure that NTMN is different and stands out. “If charity begins at home, our scamster ideals begin at college fests as organisers, and yet we blame our politicos,” says Kumar, chief editor. “We loathe obsolescence, but smoke the old-fashioned hookah with ancient pride. There is a lot in this world to laugh about and change and we felt the need to embarrass ourselves as a society. The tool we had to use was something that could blend well with the ridiculous things that we wanted to point out.” On the slowly rising popularity of satire websites, Kumar believes that at some level, satire and humour do affect the mentality of the general population. “There are those of us who wish to make a change in the bigger scheme of things, NTMN is a wonderful platform to channelise all the anger and despair in the right direction and spirit.”


The Unreal Times

True to its name, The Unreal Times has churned out posts that are highly hilarious and satirical. Ashwin Shiv Kumar, a regular columnist for the website, started out by writing satirical news articles and submitting them to various websites. He hit the jackpot with The Unreal Times which was most receptive and helped in turning his ideas into reality. He soon started writing more which led to him becoming a regular columnist.

“Humour/satire is a powerful way to present a perspective and reach a wide number of people,” says Ashwin. “Because it makes for an entertaining read, a humorous piece finds more takers than a serious piece, and also has better chances of going viral.” He cites the example of a recent article in The Unreal Times titled ‘Nation writes a letter to Arnab Goswami, says it never demanded any answers’ which poked fun at Arnab’s mannerisms. It went instantly viral and garnered 23,800 Facebook likes. “ The Unreal Times believes in bringing a smile to the reader’s face, with irreverent and engaging content,” he says.

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Printable version | May 16, 2021 1:19:44 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/nxg/not-just-for-laughs/article5044722.ece

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