SonyLIV web series 'Meme Boys': A self-aware fun ride that largely works
Tamil films set in educational institutions, like the recent Don, have been a lot about taking down teachers, those wielders of power and authority.
Published: 23rd July 2022 08:00 AM | Last Updated: 23rd July 2022 08:00 AM | A+A A-
Tamil films set in educational institutions, like the recent Don, have been a lot about taking down teachers, those wielders of power and authority. In SonyLIV’s latest Tamil web series, Meme Boys, the focus is not on a number of teachers, but on just one authority figure: Dean Narayanan (a terrific Guru Somasundaram). The series is about a group of boys and a girl taking him down using the digital weapon of mass destruction Memes.
Creators Rajiv Rajaram-Drishya and director Arun Koushik are well aware of the uncomplicated nature of their central plot and weave an unpretentious narrative. There is a meme-making competition, and four engineering college students — Mojo (Aadhitya Bhaskar), Julie (Namritha), Power (Jayanth) and Jumbo (Siddharth) — form a team to win the grand prize of Rs 10 lakhs.
Through the power of their memes, they create changes in their Apoorva University and earn the wrath of their disciplinarian dean. With a wafer-thin plot and eight episodes to take it through, the writing becomes important that the makers of Meme Boys get their writing on point. For starters, the character arcs work. Mojo is a dreamer and a goofball. Power is an enterprising go-getter. Julie is a spunky and no-nonsense achiever. Jumbo is a scared but determined believer.
And the four of them happen to be good with memes. It is interesting how the writing doesn’t really allow strong friendships to be forged, or even hint at a semblance of a romance track between the leads. Not all friendships are for life, and not all of them turn into love in weeks. This idea is a giant leap for moviekind. Also, points for representing the change of idols—Sivakarthikeyan and Rohit Sharma, for example—in the present generation of college-goers.
The narrative is set in this college, a self-sufficient landscape that gives credence to even the most outlandish of premises. Take, for instance, the set-piece where the Dean shuts down the Wi-fi system in the college to weed out the Meme Boys. Setting this college in a godforsaken place with no mobile internet connectivity, this becomes enough of a plot point to push an episode or two. Similarly, every obstacle for the meme creators comes with a simple solution that doesn’t really warrant an elaborate plan. While it might seem too convenient for most of its runtime, I liked how there is that proverbial plot twist towards the end that quells some of these doubts.
However, it is not all smooth sailing. The specificity of their target audience runs the risk of alienating ones looking for different styles of comedy. It is made for the social media generation, for those who know the difference between normal memes and dank memes. It is for those who know the antecedents of the memes that are being shared around mindlessly and are aware of the various groups involved in the manufacturing of such content. We recently saw in Fingertip Season 2 how trolling and memes are weaponised by the powers that be, and even in Meme Boys, such things are alluded, but we are shown that behind all this digital wizardry, it is a person who has to choose between right and wrong. It was one of the many responsible moments in Meme Boys.
While the leads are fairly effective, especially Siddharth and Jayanth, Aadithya’s antics don’t always hit the mark, even though it’s his role that brings in the OTT-ness to the show. Julie’s character begins with a sense of individuality, but it is disappointing that her strong voice gets drowned among the boys. Guru Somasundaram has a ball as the Dean and brings in a sense of gravitas to a predominantly fresh cast that feeds off the energy of this powerhouse. Meme Boys does have a repository of strong supporting roles that anchor the series whenever it gets too indulgent. There is Badava Gopi’s Kathiresan, Latha Sathyamurthy’s warden Sivagami, and Devadarshini’s Nandini, who are so much fun as recurring characters in the series that makes us root for more of them in the Season 2 that is hinted at the end.
Many web series in Tamil often aim for the stars only to find themselves down in the sidewalks. However, the makers of Meme Boys don’t have lofty ambitions. It is interesting to see that barring a line or two about certain political developments in the State, the memes in Meme Boys and the references are largely inoffensive. It knows its target audience and caters to them without missing a beat. The series might not make us laugh out loud, but a chuckle here, a giggle there, and a whole lot of eye-rolling in between, ensures that Meme Boys is definitely engaging and well… worth a share or two.
Director: Arun Koushik
Cast: Guru Somasundaram, Aadhitya Bhaskar, Siddharth, Namritha
Streaming on: SonyLIV