It is said that there’s no better recourse in trying times than humour and music. The year 2020 might just have proved that right.
With limited to no travel for most of the year, locked-down humans turned to their internet messiahs in search of comfort, entertainment and some much-needed stress relief.
As screen time went up, so did expectations and the manifestation of ‘good content’ led to the discovery and exponential rise in fame of some entertainers amid a pandemic riddled world.
Here’s our pick of six ‘lockdown stars’ who made the most of a challenging situation to showcase their talent and tickle our funny bones.
Yashraj Mukhate, India
Regardless of your tribulations, at least you’re sure to enter 2021 knowing the answer to ‘rasode mei kaun tha’, thanks to Aurangabad native Yashraj’s quirky composition that caused a frenzy among netizens.
The trick – adding rhythm to funny, catchy or even obnoxious film and television dialogues to stitch a tune that will remain etched in one’s memory.
And it worked. His ‘rasode mei kaun tha’ song, dialogue courtesy of Star Plus’ popular television drama ‘Saath Nibhaana Sathiya’, went on to garner over 13 million views on Instagram alone.
And then, there was no looking back.
From Taapsee Pannu to Raveena Tandon, celebrities did more than just break a leg to perform their own renditions of Mukhate’s remixes.
So, in case you missed out on a ‘biggini shoot’, we’ve got you covered.
Arslan Naseer, Pakistan
When social commentary meets satire, with a bonus of comic sketches, show reviews and parody videos, you know you’ve reached Pakistan’s rising YouTuber Arslan Naseer’s channel.
Arslan rose to fame via his sketches, but it’s his idiosyncratic takes on social situations in the South Asian subcontinent, packed with hilarious punchlines, that helped him carve his niche in the digital content arena this year and gained him over 5 lakh subscribers on YouTube and a Hum Social Media Awards 2020 nomination in the ‘Most Popular Content Creator’ category.
Elsa Majimbo, Kenya
At a time when terms like ‘social distancing’ and ‘quarantine’ have made their way into our 2020 vocabulary, it’s only natural to seek out youth icons who embody that spirit.
Enter Elsa Majimbo, a 19-year-old Kenyan journalism student, who lends her voice to our guilty pleasures with ease, humour and sans shame, whilst munching on snacks, in her mass-popular Instagram reels and videos.
The appeal lies in Majimbo’s relatable tirades that resonate with over 1.5 million Instagram users and bring some respite to those who are often subjected to ridicule by society for their ‘laziness’.
In a culture that worships overachievers, Elsa’s inclusivity finds an inadvertent target audience in 'regular' people trying to make it from one day to the other, many of whom viewed her videos during the lockdown as a coping mechanism and reassurance that there are people ‘just like them’.
This also didn’t go unnoticed by Forbes, and earned Majimbo a feature in their article, essentially turning her into a global millennial / ‘Gen Z’ icon overnight.
You can watch one of her hilarious videos here:
Niharika NM, USA
Twenty-three-year-old Niharika NM, who shifted base to California in 2019, has become Instagram’s favourite South Indian woman.
Also riding high on the relatability quotient, this Namma Bengaluru girl has potent truth bombs, rants and life advice up her sleeve, depending on what you’re in the mood for.
Her versatile accent and usage of colloquial slang add a humorous tinge to her videos that both set her apart from others as well as leave an indelible impression on her viewers, one that is hard to shake off.
Consequently, turning her 1 million followers rich on Instagram and finding fans in actor-turned-politician Kushboo, among others, who have reposted her videos on more than one occasion.
Most recently, Niharika appeared on Netflix’s ‘Behensplaining’, hosted by fellow social media sensations, Kusha Kapila and Srishti Dixit.
‘Stay Homas’ (musical group), Spain
‘Creativity with a purpose’ describes the nature of this Barcelona trio who channelized their collective frustration against coronavirus restrictions to churn out melodious tracks.
Flatmates Guillem Bolto, 25, Klaus Stroink, 25, and Rai Benet, 28, composed songs straight from their terrace that doubled as effective public service announcements and encouraged citizens to ‘stay home’ when cases were peaking in Spain.
The amalgamation of their talent and unique presentation of what they had to offer struck a chord with fellow ‘at home’ Spaniards and others, and opened up new avenues for them.
With four lakh followers, the release of their first official album and several concerts lined up, it’s safe to assume that the lockdown acted as a blessing in disguise for these budding musicians.
Saloni Gaur, India
Ending the list with 2020’s favourite ‘Aapi’ (elder sister), 21-year-old DU graduate Saloni Gaur, alternatively known as ‘Nazma Aapi’, won several virtual accolades across the country for her portrayal of a fictional woman (Nazma) who addresses social issues and current affairs from the perspective of an average middle-class woman in India.
Additionally, making it all the more special with a teaspoon of sass, and two tablespoons of insight and comedy.
From Nazma Aapi, came Kangana Run'out' and a slew of other characters Gaur caricatured and mastered, ensuing in a loyal and growing fanbase.
As of November 2020, Gaur has landed her own show ‘Uncommon Sense With Saloni’ on the OTT platform SonyLIV.