NEW DELHI: Even as schools around the Capital, the country, and the planet remain shuttered, while the world wheezes through its latest pandemic, Antakshari, that bane of many an Indian school bus driver, returned to make rounds of people’s homes, through their phones.
After PM Narendra Modi had announced that a 14-hour self-imposed Janta Curfew will be taking place on March 22, as a stop-gap measure against the spread of Covid-19, people stocked up on goods, got their household help to keep vegetables cut and spices ground for this day of reckoning, and figured out how they were going to spend their Sunday, aside from 5 pm obligations.
For those who didn’t have a fixed idea of what to do, everyone from the authorities to Amazon to advertisements had suggestions. Adding her considerable voice to that chorus was Union Minister for Textiles and Women & Child Development Smriti Irani. The politician and former soap star didn’t, as might have been presumed, post a video on the best way to wash your hands, but instead initiated a round of #TwitterAntakshari.
With everyone confined indoors, and glued to screens of various sizes, many took up the clarion call, joining the minister in an extended round of that favourite children’s and travelling game, the polar opposite of whom can stay quiet the longest, which is every young parent’s favourite game.
As might be expected, classic Bollywood songs came out on top, with thousands of people posting links to old-timey technicolour movie song videos on YouTube (which is not streaming HD-quality anyway, thanks to the current strain on the Internet bandwidth), even as others belted out lyrics from their favourite tracks, mercifully within 280 characters and in a reading medium rather than an audible one.
That being said, the entire exercise seemed to lift flagging spirits and for several hours on Sunday, #TwitterAntakshari soared high on Twitter’s trending lists. As with any performance and or sport, there are always critics, and this time was no different.
Even as the minister and her choir caroled out their songs of choice, others were quick to voice their condemnation of fripperies such as online sing-alongs when what’s really going viral, around the country, and the world, is the actual novel coronavirus, even as the number of cases in India continue to climb.